New York is a treasure chest when it comes to museums and cultural institutions. With well over 80 museums dedicated to history, culture, art, immigration, military, science, natural history and cinema; museum choices in New York are abundant. With so many options, narrowing them down to fit your travel itinerary can be difficult. In this guide, we will look at the 10 Best Museums in New York City. This guide focuses on museums which are home to some of the most exquisite collections and exhibits in New York. Among the horde of museums in New York, these are also the largest and most popular.
We have arranged the 10 Best Museums in New York in order of popularity based on Tripadvisor ratings and Headout customer reviews; so choose your pick and go museum ambling in New York. Make sure you don't plan more than 2 museums a day as it becomes hard to really absorb what the museum has to offer if you're rushed.
Quick Jumplinks - Best Museums in New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the country’s largest art museum and the fourth largest museum in the world. With seventeen permanent curatorial departments housing over 2 million works, and exhibits spanning 5000 years from across the world, this museum tells the history of civilization through its art. Popular exhibits include Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Cypresses, a bronze cast of Rodin’s Thinker, and Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s Ugolino and His Sons. The Museum doesn’t just contain art - you can also find armory, weapons, costumes, and musical instruments.
The MET also displays its exhibits based on their geographic history. In the Egyptian Art section, you will find the Temple of Dendur, an entire Egyptian temple transplanted right into the museum. With exhibits from around the world, you can explore Greek and Roman art, European paintings and sculptures, Modern art, and Arts of Oceania, Africa, and the Americas.
Sunday to Thursday: 10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM Address
MET, 1000 5th Avenue, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
• Benin ivory mask, Iyoba, 16th century Nigeria
• Bronze Chola Statue of Nataraja
• Emanuel LeutzeWashington Crossing the DelawareEmanuel Leutze
• Amathus sarcophagus, from Amathus, Cyprus
• Antioch Chalice (The Holy Grail)
• Fragment of a Queen's Face (ca. 1353–1336 B.C.), Egyptian Collection
• Jacques Louis DavidThe Death of Socrates
Visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is an emotionally heavy experience, guaranteed to stir emotions among the visitors. A tribute to the victims of the deadly twin towers tragedy, the 9/11 Memorial Museum allows you to explore the events before, during and after the day. Featuring a collection of over 11,000 artifacts, ranging from ephemera, textiles, artwork, books and more, the museum’s exhibitions attract over a million visitors each year.
The Memorial's twin reflecting pools, located within the foundation of the twin peaks, is nearly an acre in size each and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in North America. The names of every person who died in the attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools and serve as a powerful reminder of the horrific events. At the 9/11 Memorial be sure to keep an eye out for the Survivor Tree. This Callery Pear tree was badly damaged after attacks of September 11th and was nursed back to health before being returned in 2010. Another important element in the 9/11 Memorial & Museum are the white oak trees which surround the pools. These trees serve as a reminder of the individuals who lost their lives.
Sunday to Thursday - 09:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Friday and Saturday - 09:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Address
180 Greenwich St, New York
Famous Exhibits at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
• Two Reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial, formed in the footprints of the original Twin Towers
• In Memoriam, dedicated to the people who lost their lives that day in 2001 as well as the people killed during the World Trade Center 1993 bombing
• September 11, 2001, a three-part exhibition narrating tale of the fateful day
• Oak Trees as well the Survivor Tree, serving as a reminder of the individuals who lost their lives
• Collections of photographs
• 'Before 9/11' and 'After 9/11' exhibits
One of the largest and most influential museums on modern art, MoMA (as the museum is fondly known), is situated in Midtown Manhattan and is home to a comprehensive collection that includes paintings, drawings, works of architecture and design, sculpture, photography, prints, books, film, and electronic media. MoMA's art collection alone consists of more than 150,000 individual pieces, 22,000 films and 4 million film stills.
MoMA brings contemporary art to the forefront of the art scene and houses art from some of the best known artists from across the world, like Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Salvador Dali, Ai Weiwei and others. The museum also includes an attached cinema, a sculpture garden with works by Picasso and Rodin, and the Modern, a restaurant run by Danny Meyer.
Daily from 10:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM Address
11 W 53rd St, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art
• Paul Cezanne, The Bather
• Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night
• Paul Gauguin, Te aa no areois (The Seed of the Areoi)
• Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory
• Claude Monet, Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond
• Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
• Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31, 1950
• Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans
One of the largest museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History consists of a complex of 28 interconnected buildings that are home to 45 permanent exhibition halls, a planetarium and a library. The museum collections contain over 33 million specimens of animals, plants, fossils, rocks, meteorites, human remains, and cultural artifacts. Established in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has the largest collection of dinosaur fossils in the world, making it a must-visit for children and adults alike.
Through its 45 halls of permanent collection and exhibitions, the museum gives visitors the chance to engage, discover, and learn about the past, present, and the future of the natural world, human culture, and the universe. It is also home to the Rose Center for Earth and Space, which houses the Hayden Planetarium, and has exhibitions on history of the universe and our journey through space.
Daily from 10:00 AM - 5:45 PM
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM Address
Central Park West & 79th St, New York
Famous Exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History
• Tyrannosaurus Rex, Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs
• Dynamic Earth Globe, Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth
• The Blue Whale, Milstein Hall of Ocean Life
• Giant Sequoia, North American Forests
• The Hall of African Mammals
• The Rose Center for Earth and Space
• The Dzanga-Sangha Rainforest, Hall of Biodiversity
The Morgan Library & Museum is a museum and research library that was founded in 1906 to house the private library of J. P. Morgan. The museum's collection consists of old manuscripts and printed books in rare bindings and a vast collection of prints and drawings. The Morgan Library & Museum will take you on a journey of literary excellence; the rarity and quality of the collections here are quite elevating. These include prints and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles, ancient Egypt and medieval literature, autographed scores from Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, and Verdi as well as hundreds of other valuable pieces of our culture.
Tuesday - Thursday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday: 10:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM Address
225 Madison Ave, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Morgan Library & Museum
• Mozart's handwritten score of the Haffner Symphony
• Gutenberg Bibles
• A limited edition of the collected works of Phillis Wheatley
• A manuscript article by Albert Einstein describing how he developed his General Theory of Relativity
• Drawings by Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael and others
• Scraps of paper on which Bob Dylan wrote Blowin' in the Wind and It Ain't Me Babe
• Manuscript of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Opened in 2004, with Donald and Shelley Rubin’s private collection of Himalayan art at its core, the Rubin Museum of Art is a one-of-a-kind museum experience with immersive exhibits which encourage a path of personal discovery and a feeling of unity in diversity. A unique space to sit back and contemplate ideas that are beyond history and culture, the museum also offers a diverse range of exhibitions and programs, like films and concerts. While the museum displays art and artifacts from India and its neighbouring regions, its main focus is on Tibetan art, including a Tibetan Shrine Room. The Rubin Museum's collection of Himalayan art includes over 3,800 objects ranging from more than 1,500 years to the present day.
Monday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Thursday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday: 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM Address
150 W 17th St, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Rubin Museum of Art
• Ritual Hammer from 15th century Ming Dynasty
• 19th century Tibetan Prayer Beads
• 15th century Drenpa Namkha statue
• Early 18th century portrait of Terdak Lingpa Gyurme Dorje, the founder of Mindroling Monastery
• 19th century Amulet box
A collection of museum ships, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is an American military and maritime history museum in New York City. The main highlights of the museum consist of the aircraft carrier the submarine USS Growler, a Concorde SST, a Lockheed A-12 supersonic plane, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The museum also includes exhibits from around the world like an Israeli Kfir and a Polish Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-17.
However, the most popular exhibit is the eponymous carrier, the USS Intrepid which played a massive role in the Pacific theater of the Second World War and is hailed historically for surviving five kamikaze attacks and a torpedo strike. Through its exhibitions and educational programs, the museum aims at showcasing the best of America's maritime and military history.
November 1 to March 31 -
Daily from 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
April 1 to October 31 -
Monday to Friday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday, Sunday, and holidays: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Address
Pier 86, W 46th St & 12th Ave, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
• General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon that was flown in Operation Desert Storm
• USS Growler (1989), a diesel electric submarine
• Bell AH-1J Sea Cobra gunship
• Space Shuttle Enterprise
• British Airways Concorde G-BOAD (2004)
• Aurora 7 Mercury capsule replica
• Exploreum, an interactive hall designed to showcase life on an aircraft carrier
Founded in 1923 by Henry Collins Brown, The Museum of the City of New York aims to preserve and display the history of New York City. The museum's collection consists of over 1.5 million items from the 19th and early 20th centuries and includes paintings, drawings and photographs featuring New York City. The collection also consists of costumes, furniture and antique toys. Other New York related artifacts on exhibit at the museum include ship models, books, military, police and fire collections.
The museum is home to some very rare and unique items, like a number of Eugene O’Neill’s handwritten manuscripts, a room full of Duncan Phyfe furniture, a suit worn by a man to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball, and the Carrie Walter Stettheimer dollhouse, containing miniature works by Alexander, Archipenko, George Bellows, Gaston Lachaise, Marcel Duchamp, and Marguerite Zorach.
Daily from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM Address
1220 5th Ave & 103rd St, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Museum of the City of New York
• A chair that once belonged to Sarah Rapelje, said to be the first child born in New York State of European parentage
• Photographs by prominent photographers such as Percy Byron, Jacob Riis and Berenice Abbott
• Depression-era Federal Art Project photographs
• Still photography by film director Stanley Kubrick
• Furnished rooms from the house of John D. Rockefeller
• The Bay and the Harbour of New York, Samuel Waugh
• Model of New Amsterdam based on the Castello Plan of 1660
The Whitney Museum was established in 1931 as a museum dedicated exclusively to American art, with a special focus on living artists. The museum was located in the Upper East Side for 50 years before moving to its current location. The building, spread over 220,000 square feet and distributed through 9 floors, was designed by the renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano and is a work of art in itself. The museum consists of exhibition spaces, an education center, a reading room, a theater and a conservation lab. The museum's collection has helped define what is innovative and influential in American art since the beginning of the twentieth century.
The permanent collection at the Whitney consists of works by artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Man Ray, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol, Peggy Bacon, Charles Demuth, Edward Hopper, Reginald Marsh, and more.
10:30 AM to 6:00 PM Sunday to Thursday
10:30 AM to 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday Address
99 Ganasevoort St, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art
• Theodore Robinson, Etude
• Maurice Prendergast, Central Park
• Robert Henri, Laughing Child
• Thomas Hart Benton, House in Cubist Landscape
• George Bellows, Dempsey and Firpo
• Edward Hopper, Blackhead, Monhegan
• George Luks, Armistice Night
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is the home to an ever-expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art. Its collection spans mid-19th century Realism to Postmodern artwork, sculptures, and installations. Designed by the genius Frank Lloyd Wright, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is now known as the youngest New York City landmark. Following the architect's vision behind "one continuous floor" for the art exhibits, the exhibits are lined along a spiral walkway that goes up all the way to the glass dome at the top.
Founded in 1937, the museum was known for its display of the most vibrant and dynamic styles of European modernism artworks, including over 150 works by Vasily Kandinsky. At this museum, you can view works by artists from the 19th Century through the 20th Century, such as Brancusi, Braque, Calder, Chagall, Robert Delaunay, Giacometti, Klee, Leger, Miro, Picasso, and Van Gogh.
Closed on Thursdays.
Sunday-Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 AM - 5:45 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM - 7:45 PM Address
1071 5th Ave, New York
Famous Exhibits at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
• Edgar Degas, Spanish Dance
• Pablo Picasso, Woman Ironing
• Paul Czanne, Bibmus
• Paul Gauguin, In the Vanilla Grove, Man and Horse
• Georges Seurat, Farm Women at Work
Top Free Museums in New York
While the Top 10 Museums in New York barely scratch the surface of the options available in the city, here are a few more museums that deserve a visit. Plus point - these are Free Museums in New York, just in case you're on a budget!