13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

Kevin Brown

Whether you love history, art, or interactive displays, there’s a museum in NYC for you to enjoy. The best museums in NYC are worthwhile for both visitors and locals.

Best NYC Museums

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

Exploring the Treasures of New York’s Museums

Below are 13 great New York museums that both locals and tourists can appreciate. Tourists should also check out the tallest buildings in NYC during their visit.

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The Met is the largest museum in the country and the 5th largest in the world. It has been located in Central Park since 1880 and houses over 2 million art pieces spanning 5,000 years.

The Met Art Museum is also NYC’s most-visited museum, attracting around 6 million visitors annually. It is home to famous paintings like “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze and “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat” by Vincent van Gogh.

Initially overwhelming, The Met can take up to five hours to explore its permanent collection. Therefore, you may need to select exhibits based on your personal interest.

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

MoMA is one of the country’s most popular art museums, although not as large as the Met. It is home to many famous paintings.

At this museum, you can see “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, “Campbell Soup Cans” by Andy Warhol, and “Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair” by Frida Kahlo.

All the artwork is displayed in a modern atmosphere, renovated since the museum opened in 1929. There are almost 200,000 pieces on display.

American Museum of Natural History

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The Museum of Natural History is the perfect NYC museum for all ages and interests. Founded in 1869, it houses over 33 million specimens, with only 3% on display. Despite this, it remains a large museum.

Considered one of the world’s greatest natural history museums, it attracts about 5 million annual visitors and is one of Manhattan’s best museums.

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Exhibits include dinosaurs, sea life, a butterfly conservatory, and a planetarium. The museum, located in Central Park near the Met, typically requires at least two and a half hours to explore.

4. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

Frank Lloyd Wright designed and opened the unique Guggenheim Museum in 1959. This modern art museum features a spiral ramp on its front and contains about 600 pieces, including famous works like Wassily Kandinsky’s “Composition 8,” Vincent van Gogh’s “Mountains of Saint Remy,” and several Picasso pieces. Another notable museum to visit is The National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The emotional museum in NYC is next to One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the city.

The outdoor memorial is free, but the indoor museum has an entrance fee. It is filled with moving tributes to the thousands of 9/11 attack victims.

Inside, you’ll find artifacts, photographs, and interactive exhibits related to the tragic event. Many people take their time going through this museum because there is a lot of emotional information to process.

6. Brooklyn Museum

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The Brooklyn Museum in New York City is one of the largest museums, housing about 1.5 million items. Its collection showcases modern and ancient cultures from around the world, with a special emphasis on Egyptian art. A visit to this museum offers a unique experience combining history and art.

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The Whitney houses 22,000 modern and contemporary art pieces. The building offers stunning Hudson River views from observation decks.

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an American socialite, founded the museum. It showcases paintings by renowned artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Richard Avedon. It takes approximately two hours to view all the exhibits.

8. The Morgan Library and Museum

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

If you’ve ever wanted to enter a millionaire’s home with a love for books, this museum is for you. The Morgan Library and Museum, once the home of J.P. Morgan, has been open since 1906 to preserve his private book collection. Inside, you’ll find beautiful architecture and endless shelves of books on display. Tours of this facility only take an hour, but it’s well worth it if you enjoy historic structures.

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The Morgan Library is located near the iconic Empire State Building.

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The USS Intrepid on Pier 86 now serves as a museum that displays military vessels like planes and submarines. It also features the Space Shuttle Enterprise. If you’re interested in military history, you’ll find plenty of fascinating facts while exploring the sea and sky vehicles.

It typically takes two to three hours to see everything.

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

When you visit the Statue of Liberty, make sure to also explore the National Museum of Immigration on Ellis Island. This museum served as the gateway for over 12 million immigrants entering America.

Today, it houses a museum that offers a comprehensive look into the history of immigration, featuring artifacts and passenger records that provide insight into the individuals who arrived in the country.

Reaching Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty requires a boat journey, making a visit to this museum an exciting adventure.

11. The Frick Collection

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

If you’re looking for elegance, this museum in NYC is perfect. The structure was formerly Henry Clay Frick’s mansion, so it has gorgeous architecture. The museum is full of classic paintings, including works from Rembrandt, Holbein, and Vermeer.

The sculptures and furniture are also timeless works of art. It’s less crowded than other art museums, but just as impressive.

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

Transportation is a significant aspect of the city, and this transit museum has been located in a subway station since 1936. It offers historical exhibits and interactives about NYC’s transportation history.

The New York Transit Museum is suitable for all ages as visitors can enter vintage cars representing different eras. It also showcases numerous artifacts and photographs displaying the subway system’s evolution.

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13. New Museum

13 Best NYC Museums Planning a Fun and Educational Trip

The New Museum, opened in 2007, is a contemporary art museum in the city. It distinguishes itself by not having permanent exhibits, instead rotating its collection to always feature new and unique pieces. NYC has at least 145 museums, with more being added regularly.

Some lesser-known museums like the Bronx Museum of Arts, Harbor Defense Museum, and Socrates Sculpture Park are free. Additionally, some museums have free days or opportunities for NYC residents.

Most NYC museums cost $15 to $30 per person, depending on size and popularity. Age may also affect the cost.

Do NYC museums have parking? Many have their own garages, but there may be an additional fee. Check the museum’s website for parking information.

Why is the Met famous? It’s the world’s largest and finest art museum.

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