Planning a vacation to NYC? Our local experts put together a list of our top New York City museums that you should consider adding to your itinerary.
New York is known for its world-class museums and museum-goer culture. Its museums are home to a wide variety of art, history, education, and culture so there’s bound to be a museum you’ll enjoy.
Looking for Passes to Top NYC Museums?
Many of these great NYC museums are available on the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Choose as you go from dozens of top New York attractions and save up to 50% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 25% off.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
A few of the museums available on the Explorer Pass include…
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Museum of Modern Art
- Guggenheim Museum
- Intrepid Museum
- Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Garden
Explore a world-famous collection of dinosaur fossils at one of the biggest museums in the world. The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) boasts more than 32 million specimens that make up 45 permanent halls, including the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, which houses the museum’s beloved 94-foot-long model of a blue whale.
You’ll discover the world’s largest virtual reality simulator in the Hayden Planetarium and venture through the 90-foot-long diorama of the Dzanga-Sangha rain forest in the Hall of Biodiversity.
In addition to its famous permanent exhibits, unique temporary exhibits add to the educational and interactive experience the museum is known for.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is an absolute must-see in New York. The Met’s 2 million-piece art collection includes a diverse assortment of pieces from every region of the world.
The Met houses unique niche collections like The Costume Institute, Musical Instruments, and Arms & Armor, and constantly plays host to an impressive selection of ever-changing temporary exhibitions.
It’s located right along Central Park, and in contrast to the MoMA, features classical, antique and vintage art in its enormous and diverse 2,000,000-piece collection.
If you’re in the mid-town Manhattan area, MoMA is a perfect destination for you and your family.
The MoMA has been called the most influential modern art museum in the world and its contemporary space and design make it an artist’s sanctuary.
It’s home to famous masterpieces like Monet’s “Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond” and Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans and boasts works by “rebel” artists like Jackson Pollack, Salvador Dali, and Dorothea Lange.
Visitors will enjoy the global scope of the museum’s permanent artwork. Check the Met’s schedule to see what temporary exhibits they have and be sure to catch one of its inspiring film screenings.
After a day of artistic fulfillment, grab a bite to eat from one of the MoMA’s three cafés or stop by the Book & Design Store to pick up a print of one of your favorite pieces.
It’s perhaps the most unique art museum in New York, and it’s worth the trip just to see the building itself-designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Inside, the museum is an art lover’s paradise with works from artists like Cézanne, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Pissarro, and Renoir.
This international art house features permanent collections like The Thannhauser Collection and The Bohen Foundation Gift, as well as educational temporary exhibits. Another unique aspect of the Guggenheim is that it arranges its art in a way that makes sense historically and holistically, rather than by genre.
Whether you have a pre-existing love of art or not, you’ll enjoy the magnificent colors, textures, and designs that compose this world-famous art institution.
This educational, renowned tourist attraction brings twentieth-century history to life. The USS Intrepid is the centerpiece of this museum that houses 30 restored aircraft, a submarine, and a British Airways Concorde Jet.
Having served in World War II, The Vietnam War, the Cold War’s anti-submarine patrols, and NASA recovery missions, this aircraft carrier offers a multi-dimensional account of the conflicted 20th century. Explore the top-secret missile command center, torpedo rooms, the attack center, and even the crew’s mess hall.
Don’t leave before checking out one of the Intrepid’s high-tech simulators where you can experience what it’s like to fly a jet plane or journey through outer space.
Explore one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country when you visit the Brooklyn Museum. It houses world-renowned permanent collections from all of the world’s cultures, including pieces from ancient times to the most contemporary works.
Dynamic exhibitions fill the museum’s halls, including displays like “Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera” and “Body Parts: Ancient Egyptian Fragments and Amulets.” Outside the museum, you’ll find the beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden, home to 52-acres of botanical treasures. Walk through the Cherry Esplanade to see spectacular cherry blossoms or stop to reflect at the Lily Pool Terrace.
These two New York landmarks complement each other wonderfully and should not be missed.
The museum of sex takes visitors on an educational exploration of human sexuality around the world from past to present. The mission of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution, and cultural significance of human sexuality.
In addition to over 15,000 artifacts on display, the museum constantly changes their temporary exhibits in an effort to address a wide range of once taboo topics while simultaneously highlighting material and artifacts from different cultures.
Please note: Visitors must be at least 18 years of age.
The Cloisters Museum is a branch of the Met devoted exclusively to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.
Described by former Director of the Musée de Louvre in Paris as “the crowning achievement of American museology”, the Cloisters Museum houses over 3,000 stunning works of art and relics and the building itself features enclosed medieval gardens modeled after medieval planting standards and design elements.
The newest branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art family, the Met Breuer is a stunning addition to their already stellar collections. Housed in a building designed by renowned Modernist architect Marcel Breuer, the collections focus almost exclusively on contemporary and modern art.
Serving as an expansion of the modern and contemporary art space currently offered at the Met itself, this new space allows for more of the institution’s amazing strengths in these areas to be on display. Expect everything from sculpture and painting to innovative photography, textiles, performance art pieces, and much more.
They also offer a wide variety of special programming, workshops, traveling exhibits, and more. It’s a must-visit destination for art lovers exploring New York City.
The Whitney Museum is among Yew York’s finest art offerings, and their dedication to living artists is a unique contribution to the broader artistic scene.
With their extensive showcasing of twentieth and twenty-first century American art, the Whitney opens up space for dialogues about the state of the modern art world, the importance of innovation, and the need to invest in and recognize emerging artists.
Founded in 1804, the New-York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York City. The New-York Historical Society is an American history museum and library dedicated to fostering research, presenting history and art exhibitions, and public programs that emphasize the importance of history and its significance in the world today.
Each exhibit explores the political, cultural, and social history of New York City and the United States as a nation.