Museum Lovers Guide to New York City

There are 83 museums in New York. Here are 10 you must see

With over 83 museums to discover, New York is a museum lover's paradise. I'm from New York and still have a few more to tick off my personal list which is why I know that even frequent travelers to the Big Apple can't possibly see them all. My list of ten must-see museums is not a "best of" rather a mix of iconic places and lesser-known institutions which have a lot to offer. This is the list that I would want someone to give me if I were visiting New York for the first time.

  • 01 of 10

    Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Lamassu inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
    Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Ancient Near East galleries. Danielle Oteri

    One of the three largest art museums in the world, the Met, as it is known to New Yorkers, is an encyclopedic museum that covers every major period of eastern and western art history. Don't try to conquer the Met in one day. Pick a few sections like Greek and Roman Art, Ancient Egypt or Asian Art. Read Breaking Down the Met for different ways to see this museum if you only have a few hours and don't want to completely exhaust yourself.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

  • 02 of 10

    American Museum of Natural History

    Tyrannosaurus Rex. Photo Credit: David Basulto

    AMNH is one of New York's most iconic places. It's the museum in the musical "On The Town" and in the movie "Night at the Museum." Every kid in the tri-state area grew up visiting "Natural History" on class field trips to marvel at the dinosaurs. New York City kids had their first kiss in the Hayden Planetarium. From the dioramas which feel like artifacts themselves to the giant whale and the new "titanosaur", this museum should not be missed. This is every kid's favorite museum.

    American Museum of Natural History Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024

  • 03 of 10

    Museum of Modern Art

    Van Gogh's "The Starry Night". Public domain

    Van Gogh's "Starry Night" is here. So is Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon". MoMA is also home to works by Jackson Pollock, Henri Matisse, Mark Rothko and pretty much every single important modern painter, sculptor, designer, and photographer. Right in the heart of midtown Manhattan, MoMA is one of New York's busiest tourist sites so come early.

    Museum of Modern Art 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

  • 04 of 10

    Lower East Side Tenement Museum

    Confino Family Kitchen. Keiko Niwa

    New York is an immigrant city and no place tells this story better than the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. A real tenement building which was abandoned for decades serves as the museum where guides lead visitors through layers of history. This is an immersive experience that leaves a lasting impression. Visits are by guided tour only so make sure to check the schedule and make a reservation on the museum's website.

    Pair your visit to the museum with a taste of food history on the lower east side.

    Lower East Side Tenement Museum 103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

    Solomon D. Guggenheim Museum. Jean-Christophe Benoist

    Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, "the Guggenheim" is one of the most important modern architectural structures in the world. Inside the spiraling galleries, exhibitions of modern and contemporary art change throughout the year. 

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128 

  • 06 of 10

    Morgan Library and Museum

    Ceiling of Morgan Library. By Pingthing (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

    Book lovers can't miss the Morgan Library & Museum, once home to J.P. Morgan who amassed a singular collection of rare books, manuscripts, and art. The books on display in the main library rotate regularly so repeat visits are always rewarded. A complex of old and new buildings, "Mr. Morgan's Library" holds many secrets if you know where to look

    Morgan Library & Museum 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016

  • 07 of 10

    Hispanic Society of America

    Hispanic Society of America
    The Duchess of Alba by Goya at the center of the Hispanic Society of America. Danielle Oteri

    After you visit the Hispanic Society you will be among the elite few who know about this extraordinary collection of art in a neighborhood that tourists and even most New Yorkers consider out-of-the-way. Opened in 1904 to house a collection of Iberic art and books, the museum is stuffed with some of the greatest paintings in western art history. Think Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez, El Greco and John Singer Sargent. Virtually unchanged since it opened, it is a step back to the Gilded Age and a look at how art museums used to be arranged. Here is my guide to the Hispanic Society.

    Hispanic Society of America 613 W 155th St, New York, NY 10032

  • 08 of 10

    Museum of the Moving Image

    Museum of the Moving Image. Nick C. Prior

    It's absolutely worth a trip to Queens to visit the Museum of the Moving Image. (Queens is also my favorite NYC borough to eat great food.) Film history is an important part of NYC history and this museum presents special exhibitions ranging from The Muppets to Mad Men. 

    Museum of the Moving Image 36-01 35th Ave, New York, NY 11106

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Cloisters Museum & Gardens

    The Cloisters Museum & Gardens. Danielle Oteri

    The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to late medieval art. Far away from the center of Manhattan, a trip to the Cloisters brings you to Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights where it's possible to imagine you are visiting a monastery in the countryside. Composed of ancient and medieval structures, the core of which are five cloister ensembles from France, the museum in an immersive experience that transports you to another time. Highly recommended for visitors traveling with children as kids often think they are in a castle. Don't miss the Unicorn Tapestries.

    The Cloisters Museum & Gardens 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040

  • 10 of 10

    Merchants House Museum

    Merchants House Museum. Tony/Creative Commons

    One of the hidden gems of New York, the Merchant's House Museum is a step back in time to Gilded Age New York. In addition to the pristine rooms and costumes on display, the Merchant's House offers fantastic lectures and concerts. The house is also known for its resident ghosts and offers ​​candlelit ghost tours which are especially popular close to Halloween.​

    Merchant's House Museum 29 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003