The Best Museums in New York City
Collected by AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
Museum-goers are spoiled for choice in the Big Apple. For many, the MoMA and the American Museum of Natural History are givens. But let us introduce you to some local favorites, including art collections in historic mansions and venues that celebrate the immigrant experience and roots of this great American city.
225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA
The JP Morgan Library's grand, old-world elegance immediately transports you to turn-of-the-century New York. And at that time, there was almost no one more powerful than financier JP Morgan. He launched U.S. Steel and even served as the...
103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, USA
These days, wandering the Lower East Side (the area between the Bowery and the East River, with Houston Street marking its northern border and Canal Street its southern one), it can feel impossible to recall that this neighborhood was once among...
1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, USA
The Guggenheim Museum is a work of art in itself. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building's iconic curved facade stands out on the orderly row of edifices lining its stretch of Fifth Avenue. Completed near the end of Wright's career (it...
1114 6th Ave, New York, NY 10036, USA
For photography and art enthusiasts visiting NYC, don't overlook the International Center of Photography. Founded in 1974, ICP is conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan (42nd Street and Sixth Avenue). It's a world-leading museum, school, and...
11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA
The Museum of Modern Art, one of the city's—and the country's—premier institutions for modern and contemporary art, first opened its doors in 1939. Its permanent collection of almost 200,000 works includes masterpieces by many of the...
1 E 70th St, New York, NY 10021, USA
The phrase "jewel box" may be overused when referring to exquisite galleries and museums, but there's no better way to describe the Frick Collection, at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue. The early-20th-century neoclassical mansion facing Central Park,...
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art—or, commonly, the Met—is one of the world's great museums, alongside the Louvre, the British Museum, and a handful of others. It would be easy to devote an entire week's visit to the museum alone, and...
99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, USA
For most of its history, the Whitney Museum, originally founded by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1931, was located on New York's Upper East Side, in the building that now houses the Met Breuer. In 2015, it reopened in a new, larger space designed...
9-01 33rd Rd, Queens, NY 11106, USA
The Noguchi Museum is one of New York's most surprising museums, a serene, contemplative space in a once-industrial section of Queens. It's a fitting tribute to one of 20th-century art's most unusual figures. Isamu Noguchi was born in Los Angeles...
2 E 91st St, New York, NY 10128, USA
While this New York institution has been around in one form or another since the end of the 19th century, it has a long and complicated history. It originally began as part of Cooper Union, a college in downtown Manhattan, but was later...
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002, USA
New York's New Museum dates from 1977, but for the first 30 years of its existence it was an itinerant institution, moving between different leased buildings. In 2007, it finally found a permanent home—a 58,700-square-foot structure on the...
Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, USA
Located on the Upper West Side, at 79th Street and Central Park West, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the world's largest museums. It has 45 different halls, occupies more than 2 million square feet, and has some 33 million...
36-01 35th Ave, Astoria, NY 11106, USA
Between 1920 and 1933, some of the most successful films of the early 20th century were shot at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, including The Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino; several Marx Brothers movies; and the first Sherlock Holmes...
150 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011, USA
Happy hour with live tabla music; a mindful meditation session; a collection of imposing shaman masks; and temporary exhibits like Henri Cartier Bresson’s photos of Gandhi’s final days. These are just a few of the varied reasons to...
99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
The entrance isn't easy to find. At the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn is a single subway entrance. And on the corner of the building above it is a simple sign stating "New York City transit museum." Head down...
200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238, USA
When plans for the Brooklyn Museum's building on Eastern Parkway were conceived in 1890, the borough was still its own city; it wasn't until 1898 that the five boroughs would be united into the New York City we know today. Brooklyn's leading...
99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040, USA
The Cloisters, a museum devoted to medieval art and architecture, is a delightful respite from the hustle and bustle of NYC. This tranquil treasure is definitely worth a half day (or more) trip on your next visit. A branch of the Metropolitan...
4 Cortlandt Alley, New York, NY 10013, USA
The world's "overlooked, dismissed, or ignored" objects are the purview of the delightfully quirky Mmuseumm, which exhibits everything from paintbrushes and Dustbusters to kids' rolling suitcases and empty potato chip bags. It's oddly touching to...
1048 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
Neue Galerie New York is devoted to early 20th century German and Austrian art and design. Located in a renovated 1914 town house on Fifth Avenue at 86th Street (two short blocks from the Met), the museum consistently presents high quality...
Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Commissioned during World War II, the USS Intrepid is now a wonderful museum and a National Historical Landmark anchored at Pier 86 on Manhattan's West Side. The space shuttle Enterprise and a British Airways Concorde are among the top attractions...
215 Centre St, New York, NY 10013, USA
Chinese-American architect Maya Lin designed this small museum that makes a powerful impact. Oral histories, artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays document the Chinese immigrant experience from the 1800s to the present. (You might...
22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, USA
This contemporary-art center dates back to 1971 and has been at its current location, a renovated Romanesque-revival public school in Long Island City, since 1976. In 2000, it merged with the Museum of Modern Art. The Queens facility offered room...
233 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA
Here's a novel idea for date night: MoSex, which stays open until 10pm on weeknights and 11pm on weekends. (Those under 18 are not admitted.) Its curators, who are well-versed in the art and history of the sensual arts, lead guided tours. Now,...
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