10 Must-See Museums in New York City

January 24, 2019 0 0

The best museums in New York City aren’t hard to find. But while popular museums like MOMA, the Met, and the Guggenheim are must-sees, you’ll also find a multitude of lesser-known and -frequented museums, galleries, and cultural centers waiting to be explored in NYC that are worthy of your time as well. For example: Those who like modern art will be attracted to MoMa PS1 or Gagosian Gallery, while The Frick and The Morgan should prove a fun fit for those interested in the Renaissance or Medieval Times. You could even visit a hidden museum housed in a freight elevator called Mmuseumm to explore the more indie side of the NYC art world. Looking for a good spot to hit? Simply read on to find out more about the best museums in New York City – you’ll be glad you did.

Name Location Description
The Frick Collection 1 E 70th St The Frick, housed in the former 19th mansion of art collector Henry Clay Frick, is often overlooked by people visiting museum mile. The building itself is a work of art, but its collection also features an impressive selection of Old Masters like Rembrandt, Holbein, Vermeer, and more modern artists like Renoir. Admission is pay what you wish on Wednesdays from 2pm to 6pm and, on some Fridays, you’ll also find free admission for college students, lectures from visiting art historians, and the occasional concert. Pictures aren’t allowed inside the gallery, but you can take some in the common area with a grand fountain and pillars that hails from America’s Gilded Age.
Neue Galerie 1048 5th Ave Neue Galerie is a museum dedicated entirely to 19th and 20th century German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. It’s conveniently located near other major institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim and also has pay what you wish admission on Fridays starting at 6pm. The vast collection features work from the Vienna Secession, German Expressionism, Neue Sachlichkeit, and Bauhaus, with artists like Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Vasily Kandinsky, and Franz Marc on display among others, though it’s most famous for housing the work Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I by Klimt. Children under 12 aren’t allowed inside, but they can still visit the museum cafe and various educational events.
Park Avenue Armory 643 Park Ave Park Avenue Armory is an arts and culture center that takes up nearly an entire block on the Upper East Side. No matter when you visit here it’s guaranteed you’ll find a large amount of events overlapping like art shows, musical performances, and lecture series. The 2018-2019 season showcases Brandenburg Concertos in homage to Bach, a Malkin Lecture series, and the Lehman Trilogy, a play written by Stefano Massini. You can also take a tour of the actual space itself on Saturdays and learn more about the history behind this former house of the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard.
Socrates Sculpture Park 32-01 Vernon Blvd Socrates Sculpture Park is a hidden gem located in Queens. Unbeknownst to many locals and tourists like, it boasts free admission, rotating artworks, and musical performances and events. The Socrates annual starts in October and runs all the way until March, featuring artists like Antone Konst, Jesse Harrod, and Amy Brener, among others. Also, definitely check out the event calendar for other activities like fitness Capoeira, a mini market, and a Halloween festival. After you tour the grounds, the area is great for lounging, overlooking the skyline, and even enjoying a picnic nearby.
New York Historical Society 170 Central Park West Spend some time learning more about the historic city you’re in by visiting the New York Historical Society. It’s actually NYC’s oldest museum, dating back to 1804, and it focuses on Gotham’s role throughout American history, politics, and culture. Inside, you’ll find a collection featuring over a million items like Hudson River School paintings and preparatory studies by James Audubon. Harry Potter fans will also love the upcoming exhibition in October, which surveys the history of magic, and there’ll also be a special exhibition focusing solely on Billie Jean King. You can also browse thousands of historic manuscripts in the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library or bring your kids to one of the many family-oriented programs.
Gagosian Gallery Multiple Locations In the past, the Chelsea location of Gagosian has bragged big names like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons. The 20,000 square foot space often presents works on a massive scale, and has more than 5 rooms for you to peruse. There’s about one exhibition each month to be found at each location, with the UES side location housing the Gagosian Shop where you can shop for art-related memorabilia. On view right now is Urs Fischer, but upcoming shows include contemporary artists like Mary Weatherford and Harmony Korine.
Museum of Arts and Design 2 Columbus Cir MAD is dedicated to a slew of decorative arts like jewelry, tableware, tapestries, and sculpture. The venue’s proximity to Columbus Circle and the Time Warner Center make it a convenient location explore four floors of intricate design and detail. The exhibition lineup for 2018-2019 includes Rays by Liz Collins, and Ceramics by Sterling Ruby among others that explore light and space. After you’ve toured the museum you can eat at Robert, the in-house restaurant on the top floor that offers scenic views of Central Park.
MoMa PS1 22-25 Jackson Ave MoMa PS1’s setting in an old public school is often just as striking as the vanguard art that is exhibited there. The Renaissance Revival building attracts creative types from all over the city and houses over 200,000 modern art works from contemporary artists like James Turrell and Ai Weiwei. It also happens to be the spot for some popping parties and events, like their Warm Up summer series which features a range of electronic live music, Sunday Sessions that showcase dance and film, and record release parties.
Mmuseumm 4 Cortlandt Alley Mmuseumm is probably the most eerily interesting and smallest museum you’ll find in NYC. It’s located in a random freight elevator in Chinatown and has a $5 suggested admission to browse selection of quirky and eclectic objects like 3D prints of people’s faces, objects found in bodies, and cornflake taxonomy. The exhibits rotate often so there’s always something unusual to discover. Plus, afterwards you get to keep the map/exhibition guide as a keepsake from your unexpected adventure.
The Morgan Library and Museum 225 Madison Ave The Morgan offers a unique opportunity inside the life and collection of entrepreneur J.P Morgan. Inside, you’ll find works or preparatory drawings by Old Masters like Jan Van Eyck, Michelangelo, and Raphael; more modern art like murals by Sol LeWitt; and one of the original Gutenberg Bibles. Aside from being architecturally beautiful, the library also provides a closer look at ancient manuscripts and other highly-valued books and allows you to explore the life of the enigmatic man who managed to collect some of the most brilliant works of art from all over the world.



For more on the best museums in New York City, and top NYC arts and culture destinations, also see:


Tags: Culture, Top 10 Guides, Travel Categories: Culture, Top 10 Guides, Travel
Christina Elia

Assistant editor Christina Elia is currently pursuing her BA in Art History Communications at Fordham University, and writes about various topics ranging from arts and culture to practical tips and how-to advice. She has been published on online platforms such as The Odyssey. You can follow her on Twitter via @stinaelia

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