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Insider’s Guide to NYC Museums

Insider’s Guide to NYC Museums

New York City has some of the most famous art museums in the world. But that’s only a part of the story. Whether you’re a fine art aficionado, fascinated by science, a devotee of heritage and culture, or just like the weird and wonderful, New York City has a world-class museum for you. See our top picks below or jump to the section that best suits your interest! Fine Art Museums, Architecture & Design Museums, Culture & Heritage Museums, Science Museums, Memorial Museums, Novelty Museums.

Fine Art Museums

From modern art masterpieces to innovative emerging trends to Renaissance paintings, New York City is renowned for its collections of fine art.

1| The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

No matter how many times you visit NYC, there is always something new to discover at the Met. Housing a permanent collection of over 2 million works of art from every corner of the world, the Met. Don’t leave before finding your way to the roof deck -- one of our favorite NYC skyline views -- with tasty cocktails to boot!

Location: Uptown -- Museum Mile, Upper East Side

Address: 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd street)

Hours: Open 10am – 5:30pm Sun – Thurs, until 9pm Fri – Sat

Cost: $25 suggested admission*

*The Met is a public museum and technically, completely free. The suggested donation is $25 per adult. Admission to the Met will also get you into the Cloisters, in Fort Tyron Park

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2| Museum of Modern Art (MoMa)

You could spend a full day getting lost at MoMa and that’s exactly what we recommend you do. There are world-famous works from artists like Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso and so many more. Insider Tip: Start on the top 5th floor and work your way down – this way you’ll observe the development of modern art chronologically. We highly recommend the café for tasty treats. On your way out, don’t skip the gift shop which has a collection of unique items any modern art lover will appreciate. Crowds are heaviest on Friday nights between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm.

Location: Midtown

Address: 11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019

Hours: Saturday – Thursday, 10:30 am – 5:30 pm; Friday 10:30 am – 8:00 pm

Cost: $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for students, free for 16 and under

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3| The Whitney

The Whitney is dedicated to the the work of living American artists. Frequently purchasing works within the year they are created, this museum is one of the finest institutions of twentieth century American art in the world and plays an integral role in the success of the contemporary American art industry. Works by Georgia O’Keefe, Alexander Caldher and Edward Hopper are on display here. This new, impressively designed building with floor to ceiling windows overlooks the High Line -- a 1.5 mile elevated walkway and park. Don’t miss the remarkable views from the outdoor terraces.

Location: Midtown - Chelsea

Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York City, NY 10014

Hours: Sunday – Monday, 10:30 am – 6:00 pm; Wednesday – Thursday, 10:30 am – 6:00 pm; Friday – Saturday, 10:30 am – 10:00 pm. Closed Tuesdays.

Cost: $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, students and visitors with disabilities, free for 18 and under

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4| The Guggenheim

Some of the world’s most sought-after modern art is housed in this iconic architectural masterpiece. There is no standard museum layout here - you’ll follow the cylinder shape of the building up a series of gradual ramps, where art is displayed holistically. Calder, Chagall, Kandinsky, Klee, Picasso and van Gogh are all here on permanent display, as well as Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Pissarro, and Renoir. From Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, to sculpture and works of the avant-garde, this museum will make a huge impression on you. The Guggenheim is known for its special events and exhibitions in addition to its permanent collection.

Location: Uptown -- Museum Mile, Upper East Side

Address: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY (between 88th and 89th Street)

Hours: Sunday – Wednesday, 10:00 am – 5:45 pm; Friday 10:00 am – 5:45 pm; Saturday 10:00 am – 7:45 pm. Closed Thursdays.

Cost: $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, free for children under 12 Pay what you wish on Sundays, between 5:00 – 7:45 pm

5| MoMa PS1

Looking for adventurous new work or want to support emerging artist? Head to Queens and visit MOMA PSI where you’ll find displays of the most experimental art in the world. Serving as a catalyst and an advocate for new ideas and trends in contemporary art, MoMa PS1 is an exhibition space rather than a collecting institution, actively pursuing emerging artists, new genres and innovative new work by recognized artists in an effort to support innovation in contemporary art.

Location: Long Island City – Queens

Address: 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101

Hours: Thursday - Monday, 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Cost: $25 for adults, $18 for seniors, $14 for students, free for 16 and under

6| The Frick Collection

For those who revel in stunning architecture AND Old Master paintings and sculptures, this tranquil mansion is the museum for you! Step back in time and enjoy the peaceful gardens at this Gilded Age mansion --one of the few remaining in New York City. Home to masterpieces by Bellini, Monet, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Whistler, this small, uncrowded museum boasts an unrivaled collection of European masterpieces in an oasis-like setting that feels miles away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

Location: Uptown -- Upper East Side

Address: 1 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm; Sunday, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, Closed Mondays.

Cost: $22 for adults, $17 for seniors, $12 for students and children (children under ten not admitted) Pay what you wish on Wednesdays, between 2:00 – 6:00 pm

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Architecture and Design Museums

From the buildings where we work and live, to the clothes we wear, to the everyday objects we use - these museums take a closer look at the evolution of architecture and design, how it affects our daily life and even allows for you to get creative yourself along the way.

7| Skyscraper Museum

Are you fascinated by the concrete jungle? If so, you’ll want to spend an hour or two at the Skyscraper Museum. Examine these tall building as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate and places to work and live. We love this museum as it’s a great place to learn an incredible amount of information in a short time and for only $5.

Location: Downtown - Battery Park

Address: 39 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280

Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Cost: $5 for adults, $2.50 for students and seniors, children under 12, veterans and members of military, police or fire are free

8| Cooper Hewitt Design Smithsonian

HGTV fans, interior designers and makers take note: This is the nation's only museum dedicated to historic and contemporary design. Originally named the “Museum for the Arts of Decoration” here you’ll find an original collection of decorative and design objects, with a focus on architecture, sculpture, painted architecture, decorative arts, woodwork, metalwork, pottery, costume, musical instruments and furniture. Located in the landmark Andrew Carnegie mansion, it has a beautiful public garden. Our favorite exhibit can be found in the "Immersion Room" -- an interactive space providing visitors digital access to the museum’s collection of wallpapers where you can both browse and create your own. This is definitely worth an hour or two to explore.

Location: Uptown - Upper East Side

Address: 2 East 91st St. (between 5th and Madison Avenues), New York, New York 10128

Hours: Daily 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, until 9:00 pm on Saturday

Cost: $18 for adults, $12 for seniors, $9 for students, under 18 is free

*Save $2 online or pay what you wish Saturdays after 6:00 pm

9| Museum of Arts and Design

Originally named the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in the 1950s, this museum pays homage to the intersection between art, design, and craft today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the traditional and artisanal to the digital. We highly recommend taking the one-hour guided tour (free with admission) for a more informative and interactive experience (tour begins at 11:30 am and 3:00 pm).

Location: Central Park West, Columbus Circle

Address: 2 Columbus Circle New York, NY 10019

Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Thursdays until 9:00 pm. Closed Monday.

Cost: $16 for adult, $14 for seniors, $12 for students, children under 18 free

Pay what you wish on Thursdays after 6:00 pm

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Culture & Heritage Museums

New York City is a true melting pot, home to people from every corner of the world. From indigenous people to immigrants who came seeking a better life, the stories of culture, struggle and triumph are rich. Whether you come to explore your own heritage or to learn more about people different than you, a visit to any one of these museums will leave you with a greater appreciation for the humanity we all share.

10| El Museo Del Barrio

Celebrating more than 800 years of Latin creativity with drawings, paintings, sculptures, prints, photography, films, as well as video and installations, this museum appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds. Famed for its ever-changing and vibrant program of festivals, workshops, lectures and special exhibitions, this museum is a special look at the history Spanish Harlem and the Caribbean and Latin American cultures that have defined it.

Location: Uptown -- Central Park, East Harlem

Address: 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, New York, NY 10029

Hours: Wednesday - Saturday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 - 5:00 pm

Cost: Suggested donation of $9 for adults and $5 for students and seniors

*Gain free entrance to Museum of the City of New York with your El Museo Del Barrio ticket

11| Museum of Chinese in America

You’ll want to visit Chinatown for the tasty meals, but we recommend you stay for the history. America’s premier Chinese heritage museum provides an exceptionally interactive experience. 160 years of diverse Chinese American history and culture will give you new insight into the influence the Chinese have had on our society. This small but mighty institute is chock full of artifacts that tell the Chinese story within American history. We love the countless oral narratives and the fact that this institution is a quick walk down the street from Wah Fung No. 1, a popular fast food joint that will likely have a line out the door. Add this museum to your list as a must-see for your next visit to Chinatown.

Location: Downtown -- SoHo

Address: 215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm, Thursdays until 9:00 pm. Closed Monday.

Cost: $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, students, military, educators and children

*Entrance is free on the first Thursday of every month.

12| National Museum of American Indian

This is one of NYC’s hidden gems. A branch of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian found in Washington D.C., this museum offers an in-depth history of Native American strength and resiliency from early times to present day. Located within the gorgeous U.S. Custom House, you’ll find stunning artifacts from indigenous populations spanning the Americas. And the best part? Admission is free.

Location: Downtown - Bowling Green, Lower Manhattan

Address: Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004

Hours: Daily, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm, Thursdays until 8:00 pm

Cost: Free

13| New York Historical Society Museum and Library

New York City’s very first museum predates the Met by nearly seventy years. Founded to preserve eyewitness evidence of the historical movement happening in the wake of the American Revolution and British occupation of New York, this museum is today home to four centuries of history and art, a Children's History Museum and one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation. Here you’ll learn the stories that shaped the character of New York City into what it is today. Our favorite exhibition? The Center for Women’s History, which tells the untold stories of the women who have shaped the American experience.

Location: Uptown

Address: 170 Central Park West, New York, NY

Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, Fridays until 8:00 pm; Sunday 11:00 am - 5:00 pm. Closed Monday

Cost: $21 for adults, $13.00 for children

Free admission included with all CitySightseeing All-Around Town Bus Tours

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14| Museum of Jewish Heritage

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is devoted to educating visitors of all backgrounds of Jewish life and culture before, during and after the Holocaust. With a unique collection of around 30,000 works of art, ceremonial objects and records will help people from all walks of life understand what it means to be Jewish. The museum teaches the dangers of bigotry and intolerance and challenges us to allow the painful lessons of the past guide us to a better future. Even it’s location is meaningful, directly across from the Statue of Liberty, where millions entered America seeking refuge. While you’re there - take note of the architecture -- the core building’s six-sided shape and six-tiered 85-foot roof is a reminders of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

Location: Downtown

Address: Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280

Hours: Sunday - Tuesday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Wednesday - Thursday, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm; Friday 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Cost: $12 for adult, $10 for senior, $7 for student or child, children under 12 free

15| The Tenement Museum

The Industrial Revolution shaped America. Thousands of immigrants worked in crowded, overheated factories -- and lived in apartments much the same. Here at the Tenement Museum, you can get a feel for exactly what that like. This building, once home to more than 15,000 working class immigrants, has been carefully restored -- like snapshot of 1920 come to life -- so you can experience what their life was like. Costumed staff members roam the halls and tell the story of their life.

Location: Downtown -- Lower East Side

Address: 103 Orchard St (btwn Broome & Delancey)

Hours: Daily, 10:00 am – 6:30 pm, Thursdays until 8:30 pm

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors (children under the age 6 not permitted)

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Science Museums

You probably remember the fun field-trips to the science museum when you were a kid… update: they’re still fun! These exhibits inspire interests and ideas from the history of science through present day in an entertaining and educational way for people of all ages.

16| New York Hall of Science

New York City’s only hands-on science center offers more than 450 interactive exhibits, including the award-winning Science Playground and Rocket Park Mini Golf. Offering opportunities to Design Make Play that will engage people ages 1 - 100, it's impossible to get bored here. We recommend bringing a picnic and enjoying the outdoor space where there is an additional 60,000 square feet of displays and exhibits.

Location: Queens -- Corona

Address: 47-01 111th Street Corona, New York 11368

Hours: Monday - Friday, 9:30 am - 5:00 pm, Saturday - Sunday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Cost: $16 for adults, $13 for students, seniors and children 2 - 17.

17| Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

This museum is a genuine representation of America’s innovation and bravery with dozens of restored aircraft, a military submarine and the world’s first space shuttle. We love that when you step aboard a military aircraft carrier or submarine, you will get a thorough military history lesson directly from a veteran who once worked aboard the very same aircraft or vessel. Located on the piers of Hell’s Kitchen, be sure to take in the views before you head out.

Location: Midtown -- Hell’s Kitchen

Address: 12th Avenue & 46th Street, Pier 86, New York City, NY 10036

Hours: Daily 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Cost: $33 for adults, $31 for seniors, $24 for children 5 - 12

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18| American Museum of Natural History

Every exhibit within the American Museum of Natural History is impressive. The collections and exhibits are so vast you can visit again and again and never be bored. A visit here is an opportunity to discover and examine human culture, the natural world and scientific research. We recommend taking your time visiting this massive museum and exploring the giant dinosaur replicas with real fossil pieces or one of the science research exhibits on climate change or disease and eradication. This place is bigger and better than what you saw on screen in the movie Night at the Museum.

Location: Uptown -- Central Park West

Address: Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024

Hours: Daily, 10:00 am - 5:45 pm

Cost: $23 for adults*, $18 for seniors and students*, $13 for children 2 - 12*

*This museum is a public museum and technically free. * Indicates the suggested donation.

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Memorial Museums

To honor the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack that took that lives of so many, NYC has several thoughtfully constructed memorial museums to to educate, reflect and remember these events and those they affected.

19| National 911 Memorial & Museum

The 911 Memorial and Museum is the “official” memorial of 9/11, located directly on the site of the Twin Towers. The Memorial includes the largest man-made waterfalls in North America and a series of reflecting pools in which the name of every victim has been engraved. It is a quiet place for remembrance and reflection, and is free to the public. The Museum opened in May of 2014 and tells the story of 9/11 through interactive technology, archives, narratives and a collection of artifacts. Hear stories from first responders, see panoramic timelapse footage from Ground Zero and learn about the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in this 110,000 square foot space, located within the remnants of the original World Trade Center site.

Location: Downtown -- Lower Manhattan

Address: World Trade Center site at 180 Greenwich Street

Hours: Museum - Daily, 9:00 am - 8:00 pm and Friday and Saturday until 9:00 pm.

Cost: Museum entry is $26 for adults and $17 for children. The Memorial is free to the public.

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20| 9/11 Tribute Museum

Located across the street from the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, you’ll find the 9/11 Tribute Museum, which is operated by the September 11th Families’ Association. These exhibitions share the first person perspective of people who experienced 9/11. Learn about the unprecedented rescue and recovery operations, the rebuilding of communities, be inspired by personal journeys of healing and the unprecedented acts of generosity from around the world. People who work at this museum are survivors, family members who lost loved ones, first responders, people who lived in the area and recovery workers. It makes the experience a very personal and moving one and it is geared toward children and students.

Location: Downtown -- Lower Manhattan

Address: 92 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10006

Hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Cost: $15 for adults, $5 for children

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21| Ground Zero Museum Workshop: 100 Images and Artifacts Tour

In remembrance of the victims, survivors and first responders, the Ground Zero Museum Workshop is an intimate, one-room museum featuring the personal images and items of its founder, Gary Marlon Suson. Gary was the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association. He spent six days a week, 17 hours a day capturing the recovery moments of the terror attack on September 11, 2001. It’s a highly rated, very moving experience. Please note that this exhibit is located in Chelsea, a subway ride away from the site of the World Trade Center.

Location: Midtown -- Meatpacking District

Address: 420 West 14th Street, Floor 2 New York, New York

Hours: Wednesday - Sunday, 11:00 am - 3:00 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Cost: $25 for adults, $20 for children

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NYC is known its for its cultural art museums, but it's also known for being a quirky, one-of-a-kind city. Spice up your museum experience by visiting one of these specialty museums that consist of all things weird, wonderful and theatrical.

22| Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Before you step out of the bright and glittery Times Square intersection, head to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Get silly with your selfie stick at this centuries-old institution and pose with red carpet A-listers, sports legends and great world leaders. Their 3D and 4D interactive experiences will keep you busy when you’re done rubbing elbows with the bigwigs.

Location: Midtown -- Times Square

Address: West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036

Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm; Friday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Cost: $39 for adults, $33 for children

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23| Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

The world is full of weird and a lot that weird made it into Ripley’s Believe It or Not It! So, if you didn’t get your dose of weird in Times Square and you’re entertained by the curious and unique make a visit to this historic museum. This museum houses endless one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive exhibits. The NYC location is special as many of the displays of eccentric art and detailed sculptures were discovered by Robert Ripley himself. We love that this is located right next door Madame Tussauds so you can get your double dose of unique selfie moments.

Location: Midtown -- Times Square

Address: 234 West 42nd Street (between 7th & 8th Avenues), New York, NY 10036

Hours: Daily, 9:00 am - 1:00 am

Cost: $32 for adults, $24 for children 4 - 12

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24| Spyscape Museum and Experience

007 wannabe alert! This interactive museum is as entertaining as it is educational. You’ll immediately feel like you’re a part of the secretive world of espionage upon arrival when you enter an oversized briefing elevator with access from a chip on your ticket. Visitors are immersed into the dramatic spy world of hacking, surveillance, encryption, deception and special intelligence with the creative interactive exhibits and true stories of infamous spies. We’re slightly convinced this may be a covert CIA recruiting headquarters after testing our agility in the laser-beam tunnel.

Location: Midtown

Address: 928 8th Avenue (entrance on SE corner of 55th Street)

Hours: Monday - Friday, 10:00 am - 9:00 pm, Saturday - Sunday, 9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Cost: $42.46 for adults, $34.84 for children 3 - 12, $30 for seniors and military

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25| Gulliver’s Gate

Take a journey around the globe in the heart of Times Square. Explore a 50,000-square-foot world of miniatures. Gulliver’s Gate will ignite your imagination and shift your perspective. Discover miniature versions of famous landmarks and world heritage sites, all rendered in stunning detail by local artists and international model-makers. Find humorous moments and hidden surprises. Try a scavenger hunt and see what you can find. See New York City, Great Britain, Europe, Russia, Mecca, Asia, Jerusalem, Latin America and the Great Pyramids.

Location: Midtown - Times Square

Address: 216 W 44th Street New York, NY 10036

Hours: Daily, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

Cost: $36 for adult, $27 for senior and children 4 - 12, free for children 3 and under

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26| The Museum of Sex

Not for the conservative and definitely not a family kind of NYC museum…MoSex celebrates human sexuality while preserving and presenting its history, evolution and cultural significance. This progressive institution was a leader in the world of museums when it opened its doors in 2002. Its permanent collection has over 20,000 artifacts of art, photography, clothes, costumes (think outlandish S&M gear) and historical memorabilia, but it's the rotating exhibits that the crowds rave about. You’ll find books and arty toys at the in-house store and aphrodisiac drinks in the new cafe.

Location: Midtown -- Flatiron district

Address: 233 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10016

Hours: Daily, 10:30 am - 11:00 pm and until 12:00 am on Friday and Saturday

Cost: $17.50 Monday - Friday before 1:00 pm, $20.50 all other times

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Special Note -- Museum Mile

While this list was built to highlight our favorite museums by interest, it would be remiss to not mention the geographic concentration of New York City Museums known as Museum Mile. Bordering Central Park, on Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th streets, you will find the greatest concentration of art, history, design and culture collections in the world. If your time in New York City is short, and your desire is to visit as many renown museums as possible, we recommend concentrating your efforts here.

These are the museums along Museum Mile :

  • El Museo del Barrio at 104th Street
  • Museum of the City of New York at 103rd Street
  • Jewish Museum at 92nd Street
  • Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design at 91st Street
  • National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts at 89th Street
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum at 88th Street
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art from 82nd to 86th Streets
  • Goethe House German Cultural Center at 82nd Street

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