30 Best Museums In New York City
New York City is known for being filled with cultural experiences that provide unique insights into the diversity that exists in our world. While you can’t go wrong with sampling a few new types of food in one of the many restaurants that are known for their international cuisine, you’ll also want to make sure to visit several of the best museums in NYC that are known throughout the world for their amazing collections.
How Many Museums Are There in NYC?
Trying to visit all of the museums in NYC might be difficult, considering that the area has over 100 different ones that all offer something unique. Instead of trying to squeeze them all into your itinerary, you might want to visit one of the coolest museums in New York that have some of the most recognizable names in the world.
Visiting one of the bigger art museums in NYC will expose you to tons of historical works, but you might also want to see some pieces from a specific era or niche. Here are a few smaller museums where you can beat the crowds and spend more time enjoying the collections.
1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Located in Central Park, this iconic New York Museum houses over 5,000 years of art in one convenient location. Built in 1880, the museum is a historical piece in itself, and you’ll be amazed at everything you discover in the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest in the whole world.
2. The Museum of Modern Art
The MOMA is known as one of the best art museums in NYC, and it is easy to see why. Here, you can gaze upon the works that you might have learned about in art class. From Andy Warhol’s pop art to Van Gogh’s famous star-filled painting, you’ll feel a sense of awe at being so near some of the most famous pieces of art in the world.
3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Similar to the other top museums in the Big City, you get your first taste of art as you walk up to get your tickets. The Guggenheim Museum was designed by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and it is best known for its spiraling rotunda and the vast collections inside.
4. Whitney Museum of American Art
Founded in 1930 by America’s socialite, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum exists as an ode to her preference for American art. You can check out works by Georgia O’Keefe, Edward Hopper and Robert Bechtle as you wander along the 50,000 square feet of indoor space.
The New York branch of Sweden’s famous museum is a photographer’s dream come true. The temporary exhibits include photos from what photographers consider grandmasters – to the new and emerging talent that expose you to all kinds of unique photographic works.
6. Brooklyn Museum
This is the third largest museum out of the five boroughs, and you can check out art based on the location of the pieces in period rooms. The Brooklyn museum is one of the best places to visit to see African and Egyptian pieces that include breathtaking sculptures.
Music Museums in NYC
Visitors to the city claim that the streets of New York reverberate with the sounds of jazz, hip hop and other genres of music that bring together the diverse cultures that live, work and play in the city. Checking out these museums gives you an insight into the wonderful sounds that make up the cityscape.
7. Universal Hip Hop Museum
Aimed at generating social change, the museum emphasizes the unique evolution of hip-hop that has occurred over the years. The current exhibit takes you through the timeline of hip-hop evolution using mixed media and artifacts that bring the stories to life.
8. National Jazz Museum in Harlem
This is one of the most interactive museums in NYC, and it invites you to listen in and gain a greater appreciation for jazz music. With never-heard-before releases of concert recordings from the greats such as Benny Carter, even jazz aficionados will learn a thing or two.
9. Museum of Illusions
You might find yourself claiming this was one of the weirdest museums in New York City you visited (more on weird museums later), and it is definitely worth the stop. The entire museum is designed to be a strange experience as you enjoy an immersive experience that includes listening to contemporary music and exploring holograms and other illusions.
Even with dozens of museums to visit, there are still some that stand out. These famous museums are guaranteed to leave you feeling like you’ve had a truly authentic glimpse of the New York experience.
10. The Morgan Library and Museum
The once-private collection of the famous financier, J. P. Morgan, was gifted to the city and allowed to open to the public. Literary fans will love accessing rare works that include an original copy of the Declaration of Independence.
11. American Museum of Natural History
With a planetarium, dinosaurs and a butterfly conservatory, this kid-friendly destination is one of the most famous science and history museums in the world! With 55,000 specimens in its collection that are rotated on a regular basis, every trip to the museum is a unique experience.
12. New York Transit Museum
The NYC transportation system is known for being constantly on the cusp of modern technology, and it’s fun to take a walk back to where it all began. Vintage vehicles abound at this famous museum, which is perfect for people of every age to enjoy.
Museums in Manhattan
Diving into Manhattan after your aquatic jet ski adventure allows you to linger and savor all that this part of town has to offer. These Manhattan museums are a little less busy than the bigger names in NYC, but they each offer a special inside look into the city’s heritage.
13. Skyscraper Museum
If you’d like to take a closer look at all of those skyscrapers you see during our jet ski and hot tub tours, then this is the place to stop. Here, you can check out mini-models of all of those famous skyscrapers that make up the New York skyline.
14. Museum of Jewish Heritage
This living memorial to the Holocaust hosts more than 30,000 artifacts that all help to paint an intimate picture of the lives that were lived by those who were lost during this tragic moment in history. There’s no doubt that a stroll through the exhibits will leave a mark on your heart and soul as you grasp the momentous impact that the event still generates within the public’s awareness today.
Exploring museums in New York City is a great way to learn about the city’s history, culture, and art. But there are also plenty of fun and educational children’s museums in the Big Apple that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages! From interactive exhibits to hands-on activities, these kid-friendly institutions offer an entertaining and informative experience for visitors of all ages.
15. Children’s Museum of the Arts
This museum offers a virtual experience for children and adults alike as it encourages visitors to express their creativity through workshops, classes, and interactive displays. It is a great place for kids to get educated about art before they embark on their own adventures in the world of visual arts.
16. New York City Fire Museum
For a more kid-friendly adventure, head to this museum that honors all that makes the New York City Fire Department grand. The old firehouse setting includes exhibits that date back to the old bucket brigade and shows the evolution of uniforms, fire trucks and tools that rescuers have used over the years.
This museum will cure your sweet cravings! With displays made entirely out of candy and other sweets, Candytopia is a great place to take kids who could use a sugar rush. It’s an interactive experience that definitely comes with some delicious confections for when you need a break from all that sightseeing.
Weirdest Museums in NYC
If you are a fan of the odd and unique, then you can’t miss out on some of the weirdest NYC museums around. From the offbeat to the downright bizarre, these museums will show you a side of New York City that is unlike anything else in the world!
18. The Food Museum
This museum doesn’t even have a physical location! Instead, the Food Museum offers virtual tours of all the tasty treats that New York City has to offer. You’ll discover how New Yorkers ate 100 years ago, and subjects range from classic street food to gourmet restaurants. The food museum’s screenings and exhibitions let you explore everything from pizza parlors to burger joints.
19. Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
This museum is the ultimate place to explore the odd and unusual. From interactive exhibits to hundreds of artifacts, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! showcases some of the most bizarre items from all around the globe. So if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience that will make you question what you know about the world, then this museum is the perfect place to visit.
20. New York Earth Room
Created in 1977, this unique museum is home to a visionary art installation that brings the beauty of nature indoors. The museum is filled with 250 cubic yards of soil that creates a mesmerizing landscape of earth and greenery, making it one of the most thought-provoking museums in New York City.
21. Coney Island Museum
If you’re looking to experience the strange and bizarre that New York City has to offer, then a visit to this museum is right up your alley. The Coney Island Museum pays homage to America’s oldest amusement park and features an array of odd artifacts and memorabilia from the old days. There are also plenty of interactive exhibits and shows that will entertain the whole family.
22. John M. Mossman Lock Museum
This museum is a hidden gem for those who want to explore the history of locks and keys. The John M. Mossman Lock Museum displays over 1,000 different types of locks, from ancient to more modern designs. It’s a great place to learn about the evolution of security devices and how they have evolved over time.
23. Madame Tussauds NYC
Located in the heart of Times Square, this interactive museum brings some of the world’s most famous celebrities to life in wax sculptures. From politicians and athletes to Hollywood stars, you can get up close and personal with your favorite icons at Madame Tussauds.
This tiny museum is a hidden gem located in an alley of Lower Manhattan, and its motto is “a place to look and think and look and not think.” Although it may not look like much when you first arrive, MMuseumm is home to a collection of bizarre and unique objects that span the globe. MMuseummm is dedicated to “Object Journalism, and this cabinet curiosity establishment lets you peruse anything from taxidermy animals to ancient artifacts – you can even pitch them with your own bizarre exhibit if you want!
Don’t Miss These!
If you still want some history and culture after checking out the laundry list of Big Apple museums available, these are the perfect addition to your itinerary.
25. The Ellis Island Museum
No trip to New York City would be complete without a visit to Ellis Island. This museum provides visitors with an up-close and personal look at the history of immigration in the United States and how it has shaped our country today.
26. The Tenement Museum
This museum offers a unique glimpse into the lives of immigrants living in NYC’s Lower East Side in the 19th and 20th centuries. With interactive exhibits, historical artifacts and multimedia experiences, it’s a great way to learn about how people from all around the world have come together to make this city what it is today.
27. The Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum
If you’ve had your fill of art and history, the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum is a great place to explore. This museum offers visitors an inside look into some of the world’s most iconic aircraft as well as spacecraft and submarines. They also have exciting interactive exhibits that allow you to learn more about the history of aviation and space exploration.
28. The National Museum of Mathematics
Math may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but it’s possible to enjoy it with the help of this Flatiron interactive museum. With both permanent and rotating exhibits, it’s a great place to take your kids or even just yourself to explore the world of mathematics in a fun and engaging way.
29. The AKC Pet Museum
This is one of the top museums to visit in NYC if you’re a pet lover who wants to learn more about the history of their furry friends. This museum offers a unique look into the world of pets and how they’ve evolved over time. Don’t miss out on the special exhibits that feature all kinds of breeds. Also, the AKC Pet museum is the only museum that lets you take your dog with you.
30. Bronx Museum of the Arts
This is a great place to explore both local and international artists. With rotating exhibits galore, it’s a great way to find out more about the artists behind some of your favorite pieces. The Bronx Museum also offers lectures, classes, and educational programs for those who want to learn even more about the world of art. Plus, admission is free, so it’s hard to beat that.
Jet Off to the NY Harbor After Your Museum Tour
The best NYC trip itineraries include a mix of indoor cultural experiences and outdoor adventures. Sea the City is only a 10-minute drive from Manhattan, and our marina has places to change out of your streetwear and into your swimsuit. Just imagine coasting down the Hudson River with your travel companion as you enjoy a picturesque sunset and share your favorite exhibits of the day. Make sure to book your jet ski or hot tub tour in advance, and you’ll have the perfect way to top off an amazing day in one of the world’s most cultural locales.