Top 12 art museums in NYC
As a cultural hub, New York boasts a rich and diverse art scene that attracts art enthusiasts and visitors worldwide.
These museums, from classical masterpieces to cutting-edge contemporary art, glimpse the city’s artistic treasures.
In this article, we discover the top 12 art museums in NYC.
We will talk about their unique collections, architectural wonders, and the enriching experiences they provide.
It doesn’t matter if you are an art lover or just curious about what the art museums in NYC hold; you are at the right place.
Here are the top 12 art museums in NYC for you to explore.
1. The MET
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is a world-renowned museum celebrating modern art and culture.
The MET is one of the best art museums in NYC, with an extensive art collection showing centuries of creativity.
The museum’s collection showcases various artwork from diverse cultures and periods, from ancient sculptures to modern paintings.
You can marvel at the skill and imagination of artists worldwide.
The MET offers more than just a chance to see unique artwork. It also provides opportunities for learning and discovery.
Guided tours and interactive exhibits make it easy for visitors of all ages to engage with the art and learn about its history and significance.
The MET’s architecture is a work of art in itself.
The grand entrance and beautifully designed galleries create a welcoming and inspiring atmosphere.
Even if you can’t visit in person, The MET has digital resources that bring the art to you.
The MET has a website that is regularly updated, and it also hosts online exhibitions.
While there are better ways to experience art, these two options allow to explore the MET from home!
You can explore the museum’s collection from the comfort of your home through their website and online exhibitions.
The best time to visit the MET would be Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, as they are the least crowded.
3 to 5 hours for exploration is ideal to appreciate the museum’s vast offerings.
- The magnificent Antioch Chalice
- Van Gogh’s captivating masterpiece “Wheatfield with Cypresses”
- A fragment showcasing the visage of a Queen
- The captivating Head of a Queen Mother (lyoba) from Nigeria
- Jacques Louis David’s poignant artwork “The Death of Socrates.”
2. The MoMA
Located in the vibrant city of New York, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a hub of artistic innovation and creativity.
At MoMA, visitors can explore the world of modern and contemporary art.
MoMA’s collection features a remarkable array of modern masterpieces created by renowned artists from around the globe.
You can find famous works like Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” to Pablo Picasso’s groundbreaking “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” at MoMA.
MoMA hosts captivating temporary exhibitions that dive into specific themes or artists, challengING traditional perspectives.
The architectural design of MoMA’s building itself is an artistic marvel.
The architecture is sleek and modern, creating a brilliant backdrop for the artwork!
While observing art at MoMA, you can also participate in the planned interactive activities.
MoMA offers educational programs, workshops, and interactive exhibits to visitors of all ages.
For an optimal experience, visit MoMA after 11.30 am and spend approximately 2.5 hours.
- Andy Warhol’s iconic “Campbell’s Soup Cans”
- Vincent Van Gogh’s mesmerizing “The Starry Night”
- Claude Monet’s captivating “Water Lilies”
- Salvador Dali’s intriguing “The Persistence of Memory”
- Henri Rousseau’s enchanting “The Sleeping Gypsy.”
3. Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum is world-famous for its art collection, architecture and aesthetics.
The museum houses an extensive collection of artworks by renowned artists worldwide.
At the Guggenheim, you will find classic masterpieces to cutting-edge installations.
One of the highlights of the Guggenheim Museum is its striking architecture.
The building structure, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, creates a captivating atmosphere and a seamless journey.
The Guggenheim also puts out temporary exhibitions that explore various themes and ideas.
Visitors can gain a unique perspective with the collection at the Guggenheim.
The Guggenheim Museum also offers educational programs and events that cater to different interests and age groups.
Visitors can take part in guided tours, interactive workshops, etc, that happen at the museum.
This enhances visitors’ understanding and appreciation of art.
For a great experience, Monday mornings are recommended as the best time to visit.
On average, visitors spend 1 to 3 hours appreciating the museum and its collection.
- Edgar Degas’ captivating work “Spanish Dance”
- Pablo Picasso’s intriguing “Woman Ironing”
- Paul Cezanne’s striking “Bibmus”
- Paul Ganguin’s enchanting “In the Vanilla Grove, Man, and Horse”
- Georges Seurat’s mesmerizing “Farm Women at Work.”
4. Whitney Museum of American Art
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, is dedicated to showcasing American creativity.
Visitors can explore the diverse artistic expressions of America as a nation.
Whitney Museum of American Art houses an impressive collection of American artworks, paintings, sculptures, and installations from different periods.
The museum showcases a rich tapestry of American artistic heritage- from renowned masterpieces to contemporary creations.
Whitney Museum also hosts many educational programs, guided tours and events, which can be attended by visitors of all ages.
Mondays and Wednesdays are the best time to visit the Whitney Museum.
And you should spend at least 1 hour in the museum.
- Theodore Robinson’s captivating “Etude”
- Maurice Prendergast’s vibrant “Central Park”
- Robert Henri’s charming “Laughing Child.”
- Thomas Hart Benton’s intriguing “House in Cubist Landscape.”
- George Bellows’ dynamic “Drupay and Firpo.”
5. Brooklyn Museum
A 19th-century Beaux-Arts palace is a work of art in itself, but imagine displaying a brilliantly curated art collection in there?
The Brooklyn Museum is one of the largest museums in NYC and has a collection of over 1.5 million artist treasures!
Visitors can explore objects from Africa, America, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the US.
The museum’s Egyptian wing is a popular attraction.
The museum showcases artistic expressions across its five floors, from artifacts to photography.
The Brooklyn Museum operates on a pay-what-you-like model.
It encourages the visitors to support their mission.
6. Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art, established in 2004, offers a museum experience of Himalayan art.
Its immersive exhibits foster personal discovery and unity in diversity.
This art museum in NYC focuses on Tibetan art and features a Tibetan Shrine Room.
With over 3,800 objects of over 1,500 years, the collection showcases the richness of Himalayan art.
Wednesdays or Fridays are good days for visiting.
- A fifteenth-century Ming Dynasty hammer
- Nineteenth-century Tibetan prayer beads
- A fifteenth-century Drenpa Namkha statue
- An early eighteenth-century portrait of Terdak Lingpa Gyurme Dorje
7. Museum of Illusions
Since its opening in September 2018, the Museum of Illusions has become a popular art museum in NYC.
It is the ideal museum for those seeking mind-bending visual experiences.
It has over 40 exhibits showcasing holograms, kaleidoscopes, and prisms.
Guided tours are available upon reservation, or guests can explore at their own pace.
Each exhibit explains the secrets behind the illusions.
This includes the underlying logic and mathematics.
The museum operates from 9 am to 11 pm Monday through Thursday and 8 am to midnight Friday through Sunday.
Highlights of the museum include Color Room, Reverse Room, Kaleidoscope, and Infinity Room.
8. The Frick Collection
The Frick Collection offers a unique and intimate setting to explore a world of elegance and artistic excellence.
The Frick Collection is housed in the former residence of Henry Clay Frick and houses an exquisite collection.
You will encounter Rembrandt, Vermeer and Goya amid the collection.
The museum’s size allows visitors to have a more intimate experience with the artwork.
The Frick Collection features exquisite decorative arts, including fine furniture, porcelain, and sculptures.
These carefully selected pieces glimpse European elites’ luxury and refined tastes throughout history.
The Frick’s beautiful mansion setting adds to the allure of the museum.
The Frick Collection offers educational programs and events that enhance the visitor experience.
9. New Museum of Contemporary Art
The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NYC, is a beacon of innovation and artistic exploration.
At the New Museum of Contemporary Art, you can find art items from immersive installations to multimedia artworks.
The museum often puts up exhibitions that challenge traditional norms and explore societal issues.
These thought-provoking displays spark conversations, encouraging visitors to question and reflect upon the world around them.
10. MoMA PS1
MoMA PS1 in New York City is an exciting destination for contemporary art enthusiasts.
MoMA PS1 showcases emerging artists and their works, often experiencing mental artworks.
MoMA PS1 presents various contemporary art forms, including installations, multimedia works, performances, and more.
The museum pushes boundaries and challenges traditional notions of art, inviting visitors to explore new perspectives and engage with cutting-edge artistic expression.
With its ever-changing exhibitions,
The exhibitions at MoMA PS1 are never constant and hence offer visitors a dynamic and immersive experience.
The museum provides a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work.
11. Museum of Broadway
The Museum of Broadway invites visitors to explore the enchanting world of Broadway theater.
This museum celebrates Broadway’s history and cultural impact, focusing on musical theater.
The Museum of Broadway showcases a collection of artifacts, costumes, and memorabilia that highlight the evolution of Broadway over the years.
From original scripts to iconic costumes, visitors can glimpse the creative process behind beloved productions.
The Museum of Broadway is known for its virtual performances, behind-the-scenes tours, and interactive displays.
These allow visitors to engage with the world of Broadway.
12. The Museum of Arts and Design
The Museum of Arts and Design, NYC, showcases various artworks and objects created by artists and designers worldwide.
At the Museum of Arts and Design, visitors will find intricate jewelry, textiles, furniture, sculptures, etc.
The museum’s collection aims to highlight the skills and imagination of artists across the spectrum!
At MAD, visitors can engage with thought-provoking exhibitions that explore the evolving landscape of art, design, and craft.
These exhibits show the creative process, materials, and cultural influences, behind the artistic techniques and concepts at play.
MET or MoMA
Choosing between the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is impossible- both are two of the best art museums in NYC.
The MET and the MoMA are unique and showcase different aspects of the art world.
The MET’s vast collection spans multiple cultures and periods- like ancient Egypt, Greek, European, Asian etc.
It offers a comprehensive exploration of art history, from classical to contemporary.
The MET’s collection has many art forms, such as paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and photography.
The museum’s architectural setting is grand and encompasses various wings and galleries.
The MET provides a more traditional and historical art experience.
MoMA focuses on modern and contemporary art from the late 19th century.
It features influential works by artists like Picasso, Warhol, and Van Gogh, focusing on artistic movements and experimental approaches.
MoMA’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, photography, film, and media art.
The museum’s architectural design is sleek and modern, reflecting the artistic ethos it represents.
MoMA offers a contemporary and cutting-edge art experience.
The MET is an excellent choice if you are interested in classical and historical art from various cultures.
MoMA is ideal if you’re interested in modern and contemporary art and want to explore groundbreaking artistic movements.
Both these New York City art museums offer exceptional collections and can provide a memorable art experience so you can choose either.
Best art museums in NYC for kids
New York City is one thing that keeps giving.
While we have covered all the art hotspots of the city, it’s essential to talk about activities for children.
New York City also provides for families seeking enriching and educational experiences for their children.
Children’s museums in NYC provide an ideal environment for kids to learn through play and exploration.
Here are the top New York City art museums catered explicitly for children:
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
This vibrant and dynamic space offers many exhibits encouraging hands-on learning, creativity, and critical thinking.
Kids can immerse themselves in a world of imagination by engaging with interactive displays, experimenting with science, and diving into art projects.
New York Hall of Science
Children can explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and workshops.
From the famous Science Playground to the hands-on physics, biology, and astronomy exhibits, this museum sparks curiosity and ignites a love for scientific discovery.
DiMenna Children’s History Museum
For young history buffs, a stop at this New York Historical Society extension offers a captivating journey through the past.
Kids can step back in time, participate in historical games, dress up in period costumes, and engage in interactive exhibits that bring history to life.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the oldest children’s museum in the world, is another remarkable institution that sparks curiosity and celebrates diversity.
With its immersive exhibits on culture, nature, and science, this museum provides many opportunities for hands-on learning and exploration.
While all the other art museums in NYC might be too serious for the tiny tots, the museums mentioned above are perfect for your child!
Fun Exhibits in NYC
If you’re looking for unique and captivating experiences beyond the traditional museum visit, you’ve come to the right place.
NYC offers many options, from immersive installations and interactive displays to unconventional art showcases and captivating pop-up exhibitions!
So, keeping art museums in New York aside, here are a few fun exhibits for you to try:
A captivating exhibit with art installations, vibrant colors, and enchanting settings.
This is a colorful paradise inspired by Alice in Wonderland and hand painted by Alexa Meade.
Hall de Lumieres
A display of light and sound as a grand hall is transformed into a breathtaking spectacle.
It combines dynamic colors, intricate patterns, and harmonious music.
Artechouse NYC is a one-of-a-kind destination in New York City that combines art, technology, and interactivity.
This exhibit uses projection mapping, augmented reality, and interactive installations.
Visitors can enter mesmerizing worlds where art comes to life dynamically and unexpectedly.
Lower Manhattan Ghost Tour
This spine-chilling adventure takes you through the historic streets and eerie corners of one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
Explore haunted sites like the infamous Merchant’s House Museum or the chilling St. Paul’s Chapel.
Expert guides will share captivating stories and historical accounts, shedding light on these mysteries!
Museum of Ice Cream
Not your typical museum, this interactive and whimsical exhibit celebrates ice cream.
Visitors can dive into a pool of sprinkles, taste unique ice cream flavors, and explore colorful installations that evoke childhood nostalgia.
Moynihan Food Hall
Discover a diverse culinary paradise at Moynihan Food Hall.
Various food vendors offer a selection of gourmet delights and global flavors.
Top of the Rock
A visit to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck offers stunning views of NYC and a range of fun and fascinating exhibits that enhance your experience.
From interactive displays to multimedia presentations, these exhibits offer a deeper appreciation of the city’s history, architecture, and energy.
Hudson Yards in New York City offers a variety of fun and engaging exhibits that cater to different interests. You will find these at the Hudson Yards:
The Vessel is an interactive structure with a network of staircases and platforms for visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area.
The Shed is a cultural center that hosts various exhibitions, performances, and events.
Snark Park is an immersive art space that presents playful and interactive installations.
Immerse yourself in an immersive and technologically advanced exhibition at RiseNY.
You will experience storytelling, innovative technology, and visuals of NYC’s history and culture.
Little Island, located on the Hudson River in New York City, is a unique public park and performance space that offers a variety of fun exhibits and experiences.
Little Island often holds performances and temporary exhibitions and offers outdoor dining options to its visitors as well.
Things to remember before visiting the NYC Art Museums
Before you visit any NYC art museum, it’s essential to keep a few important things in mind.
Make the most of your experience with these tips:
- Check the museum’s website for information on opening hours and special exhibitions.
- Try visiting the museums on a weekday rather than a weekend, as weekdays are less crowded.
- Buy tickets in advance to avoid long lines, especially during peak tourist seasons.
- Be aware of the rules or guidelines for photography, food, and beverages inside it.
- Plan your visit by identifying the must-see artworks or exhibits beforehand.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes.
- Bring a valid ID if eligible for student or senior discounts.
- Consider bringing a small bag or backpack to carry essentials such as water, snacks, and a jacket.
- Be respectful of the artwork and follow the instructions to maintain a distance.
- Use audio guides or museum maps to enhance your understanding and navigation.
- Familiarize yourself with the policies on strollers, large bags, and coat check services.
- Stay updated on COVID-19 protocols, such as mask-wearing or vaccination-proof requirements.
What are the best art museums in NYC?
The Met and MoMA are two options that will top the “Best Art Museums in NYC” list!
But, The Guggenheim, Whitney Museum, and Brooklyn Museum are also notable.
Each offers a unique artistic experience, showcasing exceptional works of art.
What are some underrated museums in NYC?
While NYC is famous for its iconic museums, several underrated gems are worth exploring:
Frick Collection offers a serene environment and an exquisite art collection.
Rubin Museum of Art focuses on Himalayan art and offers a unique cultural experience.
Museum of the Moving Image provides insights into film and the city’s history.
Hispanic Society of America showcases Spanish and Latin American art and culture.
Where is the MET in NYC?
The MET is located on the eastern edge of Central Park in New York City.
Its official address is 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028.
The museum spans several blocks between East 80th and 84th Streets on Fifth Avenue.
What is at the MET Museum NYC?
The MET houses a diverse collection of artworks spanning various periods and cultures.
Some notable highlights include ancient Egyptian artifacts and Greek and Roman sculptures.
The MET houses paintings by renowned artists like Rembrandt and Vermeer.
When does MET close?
The MET closes at 5 pm from Sunday to Tuesday and Thursday and at 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
What time does MET open?
The MET opens at 10 am every day of the week except Wednesdays!
Is MET closed on Wednesdays?
Yes, MET is closed on Wednesdays.
It is also closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May.