New York is one of the best cities for museum in the world. Our top picks in the list of New York City Museums include:
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: I had not been to the Guggenheim in many years, so I wanted to go back to explore this major institution. You can experience special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, lectures by artists and critics, performances and film screenings, classes for teens and adults, and daily tours of the galleries led by experienced docents. Founded on a collection of early modern masterpieces, the Guggenheim Museum today is an ever-growing institution devoted to the art of the 20th century and beyond. I always love the Frank Lloyd Wright designed building which opened in 1959 and several temporary exhibitions. In 2019 it was one of eight of Wright’s major works added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.
I went back recently and enjoyed a small exhibiton, Young Picasso in Paris, about this formative years spent in Paris.
The Metropolitan Museum: One of the top art museums in the world with 17 curatorial departments and the largest in the US. The permanent collection contains classical antiquities and works from Ancient Eqypt, European sculptures and paintings, American and Modern art as well as large collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories. There are also new galleries of Islamic art. Make sure to the view the current exhibition schedule. They have a wonderful museum shop and several dining options. You can certainly spend an entire day in the museum!! I tend to focus on a few areas at a time since I have been several times over the years. For example in July, 2023, I went to see the exhibiton of Van Gogh’s Cypresses, which was excellent. 1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
MoMA: The Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1929 as an educational institution. Today, it is one of the best museums of modern art in the world and is not to be missed. I have seen some wonderful exhibitions there. Even if you have been in the past you need to go back. The museum reopened on October 21, 2019 after being closed for four months. They have added 30% more gallery space which allows for the display of 1000 new works of art. On my recent visit I enjoyed an excellent exhibition, Georgia O’Keeffe: To See Takes Time, featuring her early series of works in charcoal, pencil, watercolor, and pastel. 11 W. 53rd St.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum: This museum is part of the Smithsonian. As the National Design Museum, it is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. The Cooper Hewitt is housed in the former residence of Andrew Carnegie and is a New York City and National Historic Landmark. I enjoyed seeing it on a most recent visit. They feature temporary as well as exhibitions from the permanent collection. I enjoyed a temporary textile exhibition. They also have a lovely cafe and outdoor garden. Nearby is the Upper East Side location of Bluestone Lane coffee located in an historic church building. The cafe features breakfast and lunch items in addition to coffee drinks.
Museo del Barrio: This is an institution, at 1230 Fifth Ave., with a focus on the artistic and cultural landscape of the Caribbean and Latin American. I really enjoyed seeing some of the permanent collection as well as its Street Files 2011 exhibition which is the museum’s sixth biennial of the most innovative, cutting-edge art created by Latino, Caribbean and Latin American artists currently working the NYC area.
The Jewish Museum: Make sure to check out the current exhibition schedule of this great NYC Cultural institution. I have seen two great temporary exhibitions on my last two trips. One on the works of Edouard Vuillard and Collecting Matisse and the Modern Masters by the Cone sisters of Baltimore. Both were outstanding. The Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment, understanding, and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people through its collections, exhibitions and education programs. It is located at 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St.
Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Ave.: One of my favorite museums in New York, the Neue Galerie is a museum dedicated to 20th century German and Austrian art and design. On the second floor, you will find works from Vienna circa 1900 from such artists as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiel. The third floor features German art from various movements of the early 20th century. Artists featured include Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Franz Marc, Lyonel Feiniger, Laslo Moholy-Nagy and Mies van der Rohe. The highlight for me is always going to the Museum’s Cafe Sabarsky which overlooks Central Park and 5th Avenue. It is designed to give the feel of being in one of the great old Viennese cafes. Don’t miss having one of their Sachertortes! You will feel like you are in Vienna! 1048 Fifth (at 86th St.)
MAD/Museum of Arts and Design: At 2 Columbus Circle, I was very impressed with this museum which “explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. MAD focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from artisanal to the digital. You can see a number of items from the permanent collection as well as from temporary exhibitions. I loved a jewelry exhibition of the work of Margaret De Patta who was influenced by famed Bauhaus teacher, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Don’t miss Robert, the sleek restaurant on the 9th floor with amazing views of Columbus Circle and Central Park.
One other museum not to miss is The Rubin Museum of Art, at 120 W. 17th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenues). Through its collection, exhibitions, and programs, the museum is an international center for the preservation, study and enjoyment of Himalayan art. It was opened in 2004 and is housed in a very attractive contemporary building.
New York Historical Society Museum & Library: Located on the West Side at 170 Central Park West at 77th St., this is a museum featuring art, photographs, historical items and temporary exhibitions. If you are in the area, I would check out the calendar.
Frick Collection: The Frick Collection includes masterpieces of European painting, major works of sculpture (among them one of the finest groups of small bronzes in the world), superb eighteenth-century French furniture and porcelains, Old Master and nineteenth-century works on paper, Limoges enamels, porcelains, and other works of remarkable quality. 1 East 70th St. at 5th Ave.
The Morgan Library & Museum: At 36th and Madison in Mid-town, the Morgan Library began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. As early as 1890 Morgan had begun to assemble a collection of illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints. The largest expansion in the Morgan’s history, adding 75,000 square feet to the museum, was completed in 2006. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano, the project increased the exhibition space by more than fifty percent and added important visitor amenities, including a new performance hall, a new entrance on Madison Avenue, a new café and a new restaurant, a shop, a new reading room, and collections storage. Piano’s design integrates the Morgan’s three historical buildings with three new modestly scaled steel-and-glass pavilions. A soaring central court connects the buildings and serves as a gathering place for visitors in the spirit of an Italian piazza. I enjoyed seeing the exhibitions and particularly the library.
International Center of Photography If you are into photography, make sure to visit this museum in its new location to see their current shows on view. They have a number of galleries and a small cafe on first floor. The center offers lectures and tours centered around the current exhibitions so check out the website for information. The center also offers photography and video workshops and travel programs. There are online courses for those living outside the area. 79 Essex Street.
The Noguchi Museum: One of my favorite new finds is the The Noguchi Museum which was founded and designed by internationally renowned, Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) for the display of what he considered to be representative examples of his life’s work. His work is abstract and really exceptional. Opened in 1985, the Museum is housed in a converted industrial building, connected to a building and interior garden of Noguchi’s design. Located in Long Island City, Queens, the Museum is considered in itself to be one of the artist’s greatest works.
The neighborhood is also home to the Socrates Sculpture Park across the street; SculptureCenter; MoMA PS1 with its new restaurant Mina’s, a Greek-influenced restaurant from chef Mina Stone. The Museum of the Moving Image which you might explore at the same time is located at 9-01 33rd Road (at Vernon Boulevard), Long Island City, NY.
New Museum: Founded in 1977, The New Museum of Contemporary Art at 235 Bowery, is a highlight of the neighborhood. The sleek building has several floors of exhibition space with a cafe and shop on the first floor. Check out their calendar for current exhibitions.
Pratt Institute Sculpture Park: Pratt Institute is a 127 year-old art school with beautiful grounds and old architecture. These grounds have been turned into a large sculpture garden with over 50 works by Richard Serra, Mark de Suvero and many more. Make sure to enter through the entrance at Dekalb Ave. at Hall St. It is well worth the visit.
Just south of Chelsea in the historic Meatpacking District is the recently opened Whitney Museum of American Art at 99 Gansevoort St., at the southern end of the Highline. This is a major museum that is now located in its new building designed by famed Italian architect Renzo Piano. The building is known for its views, terraces featuring contemporary sculptures, large glass windows overlooking the Hudson river and surrounding neighborhood and high ceilings. Make sure to book your tickets online before you arrive. As most people start on the eight or top floor and work down, I found that the crowds were quite large. I opted for going down to the fifth floor and working my way back to the eighth. They offer tours and gallery talks, programs, music and dance performances as well as films. The museum focuses on 20th and 21st century American art and is known for its Whitney Biennial, held every two years.
On my last visit, I was pleased to have found the Fotografiska New York, a branch of the Swedish photography museum Fotografiska in Gramercy Park at 281 Park Ave. S. The museum’s home is the Church Missions House, a six-story, 45,000-square-foot Renaissance Revival landmark from 1894. It opened in December 2019 and features a number of photography exhibition throughout the museum. The museum also has an upscale restaurant, Verōnika and an upscale bar, the Chapel Bar.
I also was excited to find and visit the Museum of Broadway which opened in November, 2022. It is the first permanent museum dedicated to documenting the history and experience of Broadway theatre and its influence upon shaping Midtown Manhattan and Times Square. On its three floors, you can see exhibits with photographs, Playbills, costumes, props and other articles from many plays and musicals. Since I have been going to Broadway since the 1960s, I was excited to be able to relive my many past experiences. 145 W. 45th St.