New York is home to some of the world’s most renowned and loved museums as well as plenty of off-the-beaten-track and little-known gems. Whether you want to discover ancient sculpture, explore the realm of modern photography, or delve into the world of ancient art, here are some of the best museums to visit in New York City.
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1.American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)
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The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) is one of the largest museums in the world. Located in Theodore Roosevelt Park opposite Central Park on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the vast museum is made up of 28 interconnected buildings that house 45 permanent exhibition halls, including a library and a planetarium. The museum’s collections feature more than 33 million specimens of animals, plants, human remains and cultural artifacts, meteorites, minerals, and rocks, only a small fraction of which is ever on display at any given time. The American Museum of Natural History is open every day of the year and can be explored on self-guided or guided tours.
Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, Phone: 212-769-5100
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2.The Morgan Library & Museum
© The Morgan Library & Museum
Formerly known as the Pierpont Morgan Library, the Morgan Library & Museum is a museum and research library in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan that is an architectural landmark and historic site as well as an independent research library, music venue, and museum. Located on Madison Avenue, the Morgan Library & Museum features a complex of buildings with a newly renovated campus, designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, and the original library, which has been beautifully restored to its former glory. The Morgan Library & Museum is one of the world’s most important repositories for the history, art, and literature of Western civilization from 4000 B.C. through to the 21st century.
225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016, Phone: 212-685-0008
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Designed by New York architects McKim, Mead & White, the Brooklyn Museum aimed to be the largest cultural edifice in the world. While only one-sixth of it was completed, the museum today is one of the most influential cultural institutions in the United States and is home to a permanent encyclopedic collection of over one million pieces. The museum houses one of the finest and most extensive art collections in the country, including a unique selection of Native American art from the Southwest, American period rooms, exquisite pieces of ancient Egyptian, Islamic, and African art, and essential American and European paintings. Innovative, cutting-edge exhibitions and programs showcase a contemporary view of historical and traditional as well as modern works, and offer engagement with some of today’s most important artists and ideas.
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11238-6052, Phone: 718-638-5000
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4.Museum of the City of New York
© Museum of the City of New York
The Museum of the City of New York is an art and history museum that presents the history of New York City and its people. Founded in 1923 by Henry Collins Brown, the museum is housed in a neo-Georgian-style red brick building with marble trim that was designed by Joseph H. Freedlander. Located on Fifth Avenue at the northern end of the Museum Mile opposite Central Park, the museum hosts a variety of exhibitions, including the first-ever museum presentation of New York City's four centuries of history. The building’s facade has Adolph Alexander Weinman statues of DeWitt Clinton and Alexander Hamilton facing Central Park.
5th Ave & 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029, Phone: 212-534-1672
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5.New-York Historical Society
© New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society is an American history museum and library that explores the rich history of New York and the nation. Located at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West in Manhattan, the New-York Historical Society was founded in 1804 as New York's first museum and presents an array of exhibitions, public programs, and research projects for scholars, students, and the community. The museum and library are housed in a landmark granite building that was designed in a classic Roman Eclectic style by York & Sawyer and holds an extensive collection of works of American art, historical artifacts, and other materials documenting the history of New York and the United States. The New-York Historical Society also offers an extensive variety of academic fellowships, educational programs and workshops, and curriculum-based school programs.
170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024
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MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest art institutions in the United States dedicated solely to exhibiting contemporary art. Located in the neighborhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens in New York, MoMA PS1 is an exhibition space that is devoted to displaying the most experimental art in the world. In addition to its range of exhibitions, the art institution is also involved in educational programming such as the Warm Up summer music series, the International and National Projects series, and the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, which is run in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art.
22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, Phone: 718-784-2084
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7.Museum of Jewish Heritage
© Museum of Jewish Heritage
Located in Battery Park City in Manhattan, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is a memorial to those who perished in the Holocaust. Housed in a six-sided building designed by Roche-Dinkeloo to symbolize the six points of the Star of David and the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust, the museum was founded in 1997 to educate people about the “the broad tapestry of Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries, before, during, and after the Holocaust.” Topped by a pyramid structure known as the Living Memorial to the Holocaust, the museum features a collection of more than 25,000 items relating to modern Jewish history and the Holocaust, ranging from artifacts and photographs to documentary films.
36 Battery Pl, New York, NY 10280, Phone: 646-437-4202
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8.The National Museum of Mathematics
© The National Museum of Mathematics
The National Museum of Mathematics, commonly known as MoMath, is an award-winning Manhattan museum highlighting the history and vital role of mathematics in everyday life. The dynamic museum is designed to be enjoyed by the entire family, featuring exhibits meant to stimulate the minds and imaginations of visitors from age 5 to 105. It has received the prestigious MUSE Award for Education and Outreach from the American Alliance of Museums and has been named as the state's best museum for kids by New York Magazine. Two floors of exhibits explore mathematical concepts through interactive fun with sports, painting, light, robotics, and puzzle game activities. Special events hosted at the museum throughout the year include monthly Family Fridays events and a regular Math Encounters speaker series.
11 E 26th St, New York, NY 10010, Phone: 212-542-0566
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9.Tenement Museum New York City - NYC Museum
© Tenement Museum New York City
Located in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum showcases two historical tenement buildings that were home to a multinational community of more than 15,000 people between 1863 and 2011. A National Historic Site, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum was established to educate the public about the immigrant experience and encourage tolerance. The museum features a variety of exhibits and programs, including a documentary film about the tenement houses, and restored apartments and shops that visitors can explore on public tours to learn more about the lives of the immigrants who lived in them throughout the 1900s. The museum also offers tours with costumed interpreters, tastings of their communities' typical foods, and neighborhood walks, and provides a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages.
103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, Phone: 212-982-8420
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10.Neue Galerie New York
© Neue Galerie New York
Housed in the William Starr Miller House on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 86th Street on New York City's famed Museum Mile, the Neue Galerie New York showcases early 20th century Austrian and German art. Established in 2001, the Neue Galerie New York features two sections – one houses works of fine art and decorative art from early 20th century Austria and the other displays various German works from art movements of the same era, such as Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), Die Brücke (The Bridge), and the Bauhaus school. Works include those by such notable artists as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Paul Klee, Ernst Ludwig, Otto Dix, and George Grosz, and museum facilities include a design shop, a bookstore, and two Viennese cafés.
1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, Phone: 212-628-6200
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11.New Museum of Contemporary Art
© New Museum of Contemporary Art
The New Museum of Contemporary Art features a modest collection of around 1,000 works of contemporary art across an array of media. Located on Bowery Avenue on Manhattan's Lower East Side, the New Museum was founded by Marcia Tucker in 1977 and currently presents the work of little-known and under-recognized artists before they received widespread public recognition, such as Paul McCarthy, Ana Mendieta, Andrea Zittel, David Wojnarowicz, and William Kentridge. The museum hosts biennials and triennials every year as well as organized exhibitions and summer shows and has exhibited works by artists from all the world, from Brazil and Bulgaria to Colombia, Cuba, and South Africa.
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002, Phone: 212-219-1222
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12.New York Transit Museum
© New York Transit Museum
The New York Transit Museum, also called the NYC Transit Museum, tells the story of the history of the New York City subway, bus, and commuter rail systems. Located in the decommissioned Court Street subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, the museum displays an impressive collection of artifacts and objects from the transport systems of the greater New York City metropolitan region. The museum also boasts bus, bridge, subway, and tunnel memorabilia, vintage signage and in-vehicle advertisements, and dioramas and models of other transport-related equipment. The New York Transit Museum also hosts a variety of lectures, films, workshops, and seminars for visitors of all ages as well as offsite programs and opportunities to ride vintage railway and bus equipment.
99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Phone: 718-694-1600
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13.El Museo del Barrio
© El Museo del Barrio
El Museo del Barrio, often known just as El Museo, is dedicated to Caribbean and Latin American art with a collection of works from Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican artists living in New York. Located at the northern end of the Museum Mile on the Upper East Side, El Museo features an extensive collection of over 8,500 works comprising photographs and traditional art from Puerto Rico, Mexican masks, conventional and pre-Columbian artifacts, textiles from Chile, and arts and crafts from the 20th century. The museum features permanent and traveling exhibitions and sponsors numerous festivals and educational programs throughout the year.
1230 5th Ave, New York, NY 10029, Phone: 212-831-7272
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14.Rubin Museum of Art
© Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art is dedicated to the collection, exhibition, and preservation of the art and cultures of the Himalayas, India, and nearby regions. Located between the Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) and Seventh Avenue in the upmarket neighbourhood of Chelsea, the 70,000-square-foot museum features six-story gallery tower with a variety of featured exhibitions, a permanent collection focused particularly on Tibetan art, an art-making studio, a theater for multimedia events and performances, a space for contemporary and historical photography, a café, and a gift shop. The museum also boasts a new 5,000 square-foot education center, which hosts an array of educational programs as well as public seminars, talks and discussions, film screenings, live music, dance, poetry and other performances, and art demonstrations.
150 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011, Phone: 212-620-5000
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15.National September 11 Memorial & Museum
© National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum, also known as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, is a memorial and museum dedicated to commemorating the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which took 2,977 lives, and of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six people. Located at the site of the World Trade Center, where the Twin Towers used to stand before they were destroyed during the September 11 attacks, the museum and memorial was designed by Israeli architect Michael Arad and is surrounded by beautifully sculpted landscapes designed by landscape-architecture firm Peter Walker. The monument features two square reflecting pools in the center of the site and is surrounded by a forest of swamp white oak marking where the Twin Towers once stood.
180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, Phone: 212-312-8800
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16.The Frick Collection
© The Frick Collection
The Frick Collection is located in the Henry Clay Frick House on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and is one of the pre-eminent small art museums in the country. The Frick features 19 galleries of varying sizes in the former residence that house an exceptional collection of Old Master paintings and period furniture that is shown in both permanent and focused temporary exhibitions. The collection features well-known paintings by major European artists, as well as Limoges enamel, 18th century French furniture, pieces of porcelain and sculpture, and oriental rugs. Notable works include Mistress and Maid by Johannes Vermeer, Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s masterpiece The Progress of Love, and Piero Della Francesca’s St. John the Evangelist.
1 E 70th St, New York, NY 10021, Phone: 212-288-0700
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17.The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
© The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is a collection of museums that are dedicated to promoting an appreciation and understanding of art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. Founded in 1937, the Guggenheim Foundation began with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and has had since expanded to include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The Guggenheim Foundation focuses specifically on the modern and contemporary periods of art and celebrates an array of art, architecture, and design through various initiatives such as the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative, and the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative.
1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, Phone: 212-423-3500
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18.The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
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The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is dedicated to highlighting American military and maritime history through a collection of beautifully preserved museum ships in New York City. Located at Pier 86 at 46th Street in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum features a selection of impressive and fascinating ships and planes, including the behemoth aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid; the USS Growler, a cruise missile submarine; the supersonic reconnaissance plane, the Lockheed A-12, a Concorde SST, and the space shuttle Enterprise. The museum also features the fully interactive exhibit space known as the Exploreum, where visitors can climb into a real Bell 47 helicopter and land a space shuttle.
Pier 86, W 46th St & 12th Ave, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 212-245-0072
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19.The Jewish Museum
© The Jewish Museum
Housed in the former Felix M. Warburg House along the Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue, the Jewish Museum contains a vast collection of more than 30,000 works of art and Jewish culture and is the oldest existing Jewish museum in the world. The museum, which was the first Jewish museum in the United States, features a repository of cultural artifacts and art that was established in 1904 and focuses on art and objects of Jewish history as well as contemporary and modern art. The collection is exhibited in a permanent exhibition called Scenes from the Collection, along with multiple temporary displays and presentations throughout the year. Notable artists in the collection include Marc Chagall, Deborah Kass, James Tissot, and George Segal.
1109 5th Ave & E 92nd St, New York, NY 10128, Phone: 212-423-3200
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20.The Met Cloisters
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The Met Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York that is dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe. Located on four beautifully manicured acres in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park and named after the medieval cloisters that form the core of the building, the Met Cloisters features a collection of more than 2,000 artworks and architectural elements from medieval Europe. Boasting enchanting gardens and spectacular views over the Hudson River, the Met Cloisters presents over 5,000 years of art from every corner of the world with collections that include stained glass, ancient tapestries, and masterpieces of medieval sculpture. The Met also offers a range of educational programs for scholars and students of art, community outreach programs, classes, workshops, and symposiums.
99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040, Phone: 212-923-3700
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21.The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, also known as The Met, is one of the world’s largest art museums with an exceptional collection of more than two million works spanning 17 curatorial departments. Located on Museum Mile on the edge of Central Park, the museum features a main building with one of the biggest gallery spaces in the world and a second smaller location known as the Met Cloisters at Fort Tyron Park in Upper Manhattan that focuses on art and artifacts from medieval Europe. The museum also recently opened the Met Breuer on Madison Avenue, which extends the museum's modern and contemporary art program. The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York’s permanent collection includes paintings, drawings, and sculptures by European masters, art from ancient Egypt, an extensive collection of modern American art, an encyclopedic collection of costumes and musical instruments, and impressive holdings of Asian, African, Byzantine, Islamic, and Oceanic art.
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, Phone: 212-535-7710
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22.American Folk Art Museum
© American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum is located on Lincoln Square on the Upper West Side in Manhattan and is dedicated to the appreciation of folk art as well as to showcasing the creative expressions of contemporary artists from America and around the world. The museum features a collection of more than 7,000 objects dating from the 18th century to the present and spanning several genres from traditional folk arts to European Art Brut and an array of media. The collection boasts paintings on canvas, drawings, and works on paper, textile items, sculptural objects, ceramic objects, pieces of furniture, and decorated household items. The American Folk Art Museum hosts a variety of ongoing exhibitions, both permanent and traveling, educational programs for visitors of all ages, and art-based outreach community projects.
2 Lincoln Square, New York, NY 10023, Phone: 212-595-9533
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23.The Museum of Arts and Design
© The Museum of Arts and Design
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is dedicated to collecting, displaying, and interpreting contemporary and historical innovation in arts, crafts, and design. Located on Columbus Circle in Manhattan, the Museum of Arts and Design boasts more than 54,000 square feet of space, which includes four floors of exhibition galleries for works by established and emerging artists, a 150-seat auditorium for lectures, symposiums, films, and performances, and a restaurant. The museum is also home to the Center for the Study of Jewelry and an education center with multi-media classrooms and studios where interactive educational programs are held that celebrate the creative process of arts and crafts and how they enhance contemporary life.
2 Columbus Cir, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-299-7777
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24.The Museum of Modern Art
© The Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a world-renowned museum dedicated to the collection and interpretation of modern and contemporary art. Located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, the MoMA is hailed as being one of the most influential museums of contemporary art in the world with extensive collections of architecture, paintings, sculpture, prints, photography, design, drawings, illustrated books, artist’s books, and electronic media. The museum also houses the MoMA Library, which includes approximately 300,000 books and exhibition catalogs, over 1,000 periodical titles, and over 40,000 files of ephemera about individual artists and groups.
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, Phone: 212-708-9400
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25.Whitney Museum of American Art
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The Whitney Museum of American Art, fondly known as the Whitney, is an art museum in Manhattan that focuses on 20th and 21st century American art. Founded in 1931 by prominent American socialite and art patron Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the Whitney has a permanent collection of more than 21,000 paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, photographs, films, videos, and historical artifacts as well as new media by more than 3,000 artists. An extensive permanent collection showcases notable works from the first half of the last century, while other galleries are dedicated to exhibiting the work of living artists. The museum is based in a Renzo Piano designed building on Gansevoort Street in the creative West Village / Meatpacking District neighborhood of Lower Manhattan and hosts popular annual and biennial exhibitions each year, which showcase lesser known and up-and-coming artists.
99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, Phone: 212-570-3600
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25 Best Museums in NYC
- American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Photo: Courtesy of Rafael Ben-Ari - Fotolia.com
- The Morgan Library & Museum, Photo: The Morgan Library & Museum
- Brooklyn Museum, Photo: Courtesy of lightphoto2 - Fotolia.com
- Museum of the City of New York, Photo: Museum of the City of New York
- New-York Historical Society, Photo: New-York Historical Society
- MoMA PS1, Photo: Courtesy of Tomas - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Jewish Heritage, Photo: Museum of Jewish Heritage
- The National Museum of Mathematics, Photo: The National Museum of Mathematics
- Tenement Museum New York City - NYC Museum, Photo: Tenement Museum New York City
- Neue Galerie New York, Photo: Neue Galerie New York
- New Museum of Contemporary Art, Photo: New Museum of Contemporary Art
- New York Transit Museum, Photo: New York Transit Museum
- El Museo del Barrio, Photo: El Museo del Barrio
- Rubin Museum of Art, Photo: Rubin Museum of Art
- National September 11 Memorial & Museum, Photo: National September 11 Memorial & Museum
- The Frick Collection, Photo: The Frick Collection
- The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Photo: The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
- The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Photo: Courtesy of PnPy - Fotolia.com
- The Jewish Museum, Photo: The Jewish Museum
- The Met Cloisters, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel21 - Fotolia.com
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photo: Courtesy of Luciano Mortula-LGM - Fotolia.com
- American Folk Art Museum, Photo: American Folk Art Museum
- The Museum of Arts and Design, Photo: The Museum of Arts and Design
- The Museum of Modern Art, Photo: The Museum of Modern Art
- Whitney Museum of American Art, Photo: Courtesy of Brad Pict - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Fotos 593 - Fotolia.com
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Located in the historical landmark Carnegie Mansion on Manhattan’s Museum Mile on the Upper East Side, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is devoted to historical and contemporary design. One of 19 museums that fall under the wing of the Smithsonian Institution, three of which are based in New York, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum features a comprehensive collection of works that reflect more than 240 years of design aesthetic and creativity. The Cooper Hewitt consists of an impressive selection of decorative and design objects, including architecture, costumes, furniture and decorative arts, pottery, metalwork, musical instruments, sculpture, and woodwork.
2 E 91st St, New York, NY 10128, Phone: 212-849-8400