10 Best New York City Museums

Art and History Dominate the List

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    Museums Galore

    Elevated view, Central Park and skyline, New York
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    With hundreds of cultural institutions and historic sites in New York City, it can be difficult to narrow down which ones to include on your itinerary. There are options that will appeal to just about everyone, whether you want to see exhibits dedicated to art and design or history and science.

    You should plan to visit no more than two museums in one day, and really one museum is usually more than enough daily. It's hard to really absorb what the museum has to offer if you're rushed or have reached saturation. A good plan is to visit one museum in the morning (this is when museums tend to be less crowded) and then choose a neighborhood to explore, a walking tour, bus tour, or a sightseeing cruise to round out the day. 

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    American Museum of Natural History

    New York, American Museum Of Natural History
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    Since opening to the public in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side has evolved and grown. In addition to the Rose Center planetarium and regular exhibits, the museum hosts a revolving series of shows so there is always something new to see. AMNH is an illuminating destination for visitors of all ages, with engaging experiences for just about everyone.

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    Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

    USA, New York State, New York City, Facade of Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in Manhattan
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    This is the only U.S. museum exclusively dedicated to historic and contemporary design. The exhibits at the Cooper-Hewitt, on the Upper East Side, offer visitors a chance to explore the nature and impact of design in their lives.


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    Ellis Island Immigration Museum

    USA, Upper New York Bay, Aerial photograph of Ellis Island
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    About 12 million steerage and third-class steamship passengers were processed on Ellis Island in New York Harbor between 1892 and 1954. Immigrants who entered the United States through the port of New York were legally and medically inspected there. In 1990 Ellis Island was renovated and transformed into a museum dedicated to educating visitors about the immigrant experience.


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    Guggenheim Museum

    USA, New York, exterior view Guggenheim museum
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    The Guggenheim Museum, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is best known for its spiral structure and unique museum layout. The permanent collection and temporary exhibitions at the Guggenheim, on the Upper East Side, highlight modern paintings, sculpture, and film.

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    Tenement Museum

    Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side.
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    Accessible only by guided tour, the Tenement Museum offers visitors the opportunity to see into the immigrant past of the Lower East Side while visiting the actual apartments where immigrants lived and hearing stories about their lives. The museum also gives tours in Spanish and American Sign Language.


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  • 07 of 11

    Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Metropolitan Museum of Art, 5th Avenue, NYC
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    More than 2 million works of art from around the world and throughout history are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the edge of Central Park on the Upper East Side. You could easily spend years exploring the Met's extensive collections, but even if you only have an afternoon to visit, you'll be impressed by the vast array of art on display. The Met is the largest art museum in the United States, and it's worth several visits of a few hours each if you have the time.


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    Museum of Modern Art

    The Museum Of Modern Art also known as MOMA
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    Founded in 1929 as the first museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art, MoMA, in Midtown East, is host to an impressive collection of modern artistic efforts in a variety of media that includes paintings, sculpture, design, and film. The museum offers special events and activities for families with children as young as 4, making it a very family-friendly choice.

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    Museum of the Moving Image

    USA, New York State, New York City, Museum of the Moving Image
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    The Museum of the Moving Image focuses on film, television, and digital media and their impact on culture and society. Located in Astoria, Queens, the museum is easily accessible by subway, just a short ride from Manhattan, and is a great destination for film buffs and families alike.


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    New York Historical Society

    Carriage and silver collection, Henry Luce III Center for Study of American Cultures, New-York Historical Society, New York, NY
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    The New York Historical Society, on the Upper West Side, offers visitors an opportunity to see a collection that reveals much of New York's history. The collection includes Tiffany lamps, decorative objects, paintings, and furniture, and there are frequent special exhibits, as well as the Dimenna Children's History Museum.

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    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Manhattan, Meatpacking District, High Line Elevated Park and Whitney Museum of American Art (architect Renzo Piano) on the background
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    Boasting the most complete overview of 20th-century American art of any museum in the world, the Whitney's permanent collection includes more than 12,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs. It's in the Meatpacking District near the High Line.