New York is the USA’s cultural heartland, with more than 80 museums peppered throughout the city’s five boroughs. Art, history, science, culture – New York’s museums cover it all. Spend your days gazing at world-class works, learning about life-changing events and appreciating the history of our planet.
This vast and varied group of museums is part of the Big Apple’s essence. Some have stood in the city since the 19th century but their appeal hasn’t diminished. In fact, they’ve gone from strength to strength, evolving collections and bringing groundbreaking exhibitions to the eyes of millions of visitors.
As there’s a dizzying number to choose from, here are nine New York museums you need to visit while on a city break to the Big Apple.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- American Museum of Natural History
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- Brooklyn Museum
- Guggenheim Museum
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
- The Frick Collection
- The Museum of Modern Art
1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Spread across three Manhattan locations, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the top museums in the world. Established in 1870, its collection has grown to now include pieces that span more than 5,000 years of art. Of all New York’s museums, this is the most visited, with more than six million people heading through its doors each year.
Take a journey through time as you make your way past works in the permanent collection, including ancient Egyptian papyrus, Van Gogh’s The Potato Peeler and medieval armour and weaponry.
2. American Museum of Natural History
After a dose of art, move onto this famous institute of science and culture. The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 to exhibit the nation’s foremost findings. A parade of dinosaur skeletons, a 94-foot-long blue whale model and a section of a giant sequoia tree are just some of the top things to see.
Beyond the permanent and temporary collections, there’s a beaux-arts theatre where you can watch 3D films, as well as a magical planetarium which puts on an extraordinary simulation of the observable universe.
3. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Dedicated to the devastating events of 11 September 2001, this thought-provoking museum examines the tragedy through a series of videos, technology and artefacts. As you wander through the archaeological heart of the World Trader Center site, you’ll get a better idea of the events of the day, as well as those that preceded and followed it.
One of the most sombre parts of the museum is the Memorial Exhibition, filled with photos of the 2,983 victims of both the 11 September 2001 and 26 February 1993 attacks. Touchscreens offer more information about each person, including audio remembrances.
4. Brooklyn Museum
Escape Manhattan for the afternoon and head across the East River to the Brooklyn Museum. Inside this gorgeous white beaux-arts building you’ll find an enormous collection of art that’s more than one million pieces strong.
The first floor offers a collection of sculptures, while the second floor takes you through the arts of Asia and the Islamic world. Up on the third floor, gaze at Egyptian and European art, before seeing contemporary pieces on the fourth floor. Finish off on the fifth, a floor dedicated to American art.
5. Guggenheim Museum
Wander along Fifth Avenue and it’s hard to miss the striking Guggenheim Museum. This white spiralled building is any art lover’s heaven, with more than 7,000 works to see within the permanent collection.
International artists such as Monet, Matisse, Picasso and Van Gogh feature alongside homegrown heroes, including Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. Work your way up the seven floors, stopping off on the third to enjoy the brilliant views of Central Park from Café 3.
6. Whitney Museum of American Art
The nation’s best works are on show inside the Whitney Museum of American Art. More than 23,000 pieces from 3,000 US artists created during the 20th and 21st centuries grace the walls of this museum. Make your way through and marvel at works from the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper.
7. Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
Stand on the spot where more than 12 million immigrants once did when you visit the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Between 1892 and 1954, this site played an important role for those entering the USA.
Across the museum’s three floors, you can gain a better understanding of the process new arrivals went through, discover stories of immigrants and admire the architecture of the Registry Room.
8. The Frick Collection
The wealth of works at The Frick Collection is a sight to behold, housed inside Industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s former residence on the Upper East Side. What started off as a personal collection has grown since Frick’s death in 1919 and includes paintings, sculptures and decorative art.
Wander through the beaux-arts mansion and marvel at masterpieces from Rembrandt, Vermeer, Titian and Bellini. There’s also 18th-century French furniture, Chinese porcelain vases and Italian bronzes to admire.
9. The Museum of Modern Art
New York’s Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA, attracts three million visitors every year. They’re drawn here by the incredible collection of contemporary works hidden within its walls – paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and photographs are among the eclectic line-up.
Different stylistic movements and themes are on show, chronicling the way in which modern art has evolved during the last few centuries. Work your way through and you’ll spot pieces from famous artists including Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Henri Matisse.
Inspired to go discover the crème de la crème of New York’s museums?
Posted: 19th Dec 2018.