A Guide to the 8 Best NYC Museums

NYC is filled with incredible food, architecture, shows and museums. We highly recommend checking out at least one of the many NYC museums when you visit, or if you’re local, check them all out! Since moving to the city, we have been working our way through the NYC museums and these are our top 6 favorite museums. We have visited these spots more than once and every visit leaves us finding something new.

The Museum of Modern Art

Location: 11 West 53rd Street

The Museum of Moderate Art, often referred to as the MoMA, is located in Midtown Manhattan and features modern art pieces. The MoMA is know for housing the most expansive and impressive modern art collections in the world. The museum will often host featured exhibits, so even if you’ve visited before there is always a chance at seeing something new. One of the reasons we love this museum is that it also features an outdoor area. The outdoor garden area is home to many sculptures and is a great space to find some outdoor calm among the midtown chaos.

Tickets are $25/adult and are currently timed tickets, meaning you reserve a time slot when you pay for a ticket to ensure that capacity is not exceeded during the Covid pandemic. If you are a New York resident, then you ticket price is by donation.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a the MET)

Location: 1000 5th Avenue

This is one of Janessa’s favorite museums and for good reason! First you have the iconic front steps which are perfect for photo ops. Second, you have the amazing artwork and sculptures inside. We love the greek sculptures and feel that you would almost think you were in a European museum. Third, you have an outdoor rooftop bar. If you are looking for a peaceful spot to enjoy a drink, a snack and some skyline views, this is your spot.  This rooftop overlooks Central Park as well and is often not too crowded. Overall, if you have to choose one museum, we recommend the MET. Tickets are $25/ person, however for NY residents and their guests it is pay what you wish anytime.

 

The Frick Collection

Location: 1 East 70th Street (off of 5th Avenue)

This is also an art museum, however it is Henry Clay Frick’s house. Henry Clay Frick was one of the first wealthy New Yorkers to build a mansion in the Upper East Side. So, while you view all these art pieces, you also get a glimpse into what an historic mansion looks like. The museum just re-opened in early 2021 after being closed for re-construction over the previous year. Tickets are $22/ person and are timed entry tickets due to the pandemic. They do have pay-what-you-wish days on Thursday (previously was Sunday) from 4-6pm.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Location: 1071 5th Avenue

The Guggenheim Museum is an art museum. However, the building design by architect Frank Lloyd Wright is a sight to see in itself. The museum runs along the circular ramp, all the way to the top of the building. We went when they had the exhibition Countryside, the Future and really enjoyed the integration or art and technology. Furthermore, the balance of modern art with historical art pieces offered great contrast. We are by no means museum experts, but this museum is one of our favorites. Tickets are $25/ person and during the Covid pandemic these are now timed entry tickets. Luckily, they also pay-what-you-wish days which take place on select Saturdays between 4-6pm.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Location: Pier 86, W 46th Street

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum features American military maritime history, all while you are standing on an aircraft carrier, the USS Intrepid. In addition to getting to to explore the USS Intrepid, the museum features many other military aircrafts including the Concorde SST, a Lockheed A-12 supersonic reconnaissance plane, and best of all, the Enterprise Space Shuttle. Tickets for the museum are $33/adult and during the Covid pandemic these are now timed entry tickets.

American Museum of Natural History

Location: 200 Central Park West

Located just off of Central Park on the west side of Manhattan is the American Museum of Natural History. This museum also happens to be the largest natural history museum in the world. Once you enter, you will quickly realize how expansive it is. We have been here several times and still feel like we haven’t seen every exhibit, so we recommend prioritizing the exhibits you really want to see to ensure you don’t miss them. Tickets are $23/adult for general admission and during the pandemic they are timed entry tickets, which helps eliminate the long waits prior to entering. If you are a New York, New Jersey or Connecticut resident then your ticket price is by donation (pay-what-you-wish).

Whitney Museum of American Art

Location: 99 Gansevoort Street

The Whitney Museum of American Art largely features 20-21st Century American art, however they do commonly have featured exhibits. The museum was founded in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an American socialite. Today there are over 25,000 pieces of art from sculptures to paintings to film photos — there is a lot to take in. Once you reach the top floor of the museum there’s a large outdoor patio with a restaurant. This spot offers spectacular views of the city, including the Empire State Building, and is something that few other museums in the city can offer. Tickets are $25/adult for general admission and they are doing timed ticket entry due to the Covid pandemic. Additionally, tickets are pay-what-you-wish on Fridays from 7-10pm, however you do need to still book these in advance.

Museum of the City of New York

Location: 1220 5th Avenue

If you’ve seen Gossip Girl, then this is a must see spot. Many of the outdoor scenes in Gossip Girl take place on the steps leading up to this museum. However, if you are not a fan of this show or haven’t even heard of it, it’s still a great museum to check out. The museum goes over the history and art that has made New York City what it is today. Admission is $20/adult for general admission and they are also doing timed ticket entry due to the Covid pandemic.

While this is not an exhaustive list of all the NYC museums (it’s not even the complete list of museums within Manhattan), these are our top recommendations. Each museum offers some spectacular displays and different highlights, and we highly recommend visiting at least one! If you need help planning out a weekend in NYC, check out some of our other posts including top instagram spots and exploring Governor’s Island.

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