Visiting New York City in 2023? Looking for the best museums in NYC? You’ll want to read this article before your trip.
There are few better ways to feed the brain than by visiting a good museum. NYC museums offer an outstanding variety of natural treasures, historic memorabilia, and the very best the art world has to offer. With so many great NYC museums to choose from, and often so little time, it’s hard to know where to begin.
To help you plan your New York City trip in 2023, below you’ll find the ultimate list of the 12 best museums in NYC, according to critics and visitors alike. And to make it even easier to put together an NYC itinerary, we’re adding all the info you may need on temporary exhibits, key pieces to look out for, ticket prices, opening hours, and much more.
10 Best Museums in NYC to Visit in 2023
1. MET – Metropolitan Museum of Art
Official Website: metmuseum.org; Address: 1000 5th Ave at Central Park ; Adult ticket price: $30;
Occupying two million square feet, with a permanent collection of over two million works of art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest art galleries in the world. This famous fine arts museum in NYC boasts works from classical antiquity, Ancient Egypt, Asia, Byzantium, and Europe, with nearly all of the European masters represented.
Key pieces to look out for:
- The Temple of Dendur
- A bronze cast of Auguste
- Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais
- Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)
- Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait
2. MOMA – Museum of Modern Art
Official website: moma.org; Address: 11 West 53rd Street; Adult Ticket Price: $25.
The MoMA has been called the most influential modern art museum in the world, and its contemporary space and design make it seem like an artist’s sanctuary. Founded in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art is home to more than 150,000 pieces of Modern and contemporary art, from paintings and photographs to sculptures and films.
Key pieces to look out for:
- Van Gogh’s The Starry Night
- Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory
- Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
- Matisse’s Joy of Life
3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Official website: guggenheim.org; Address: 1071 5th Ave on the Upper East Side; Adult Entrance Ticket: $22
This is one of the most iconic museums in the world and the most unique art museum in New York. A sculpture in its own right, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s building almost overshadows the collection of 20th-century art it houses. Housed within the museum are 300 representative works culled from the Guggenheim Foundation’s 7,000-piece collection, including works by Picasso, Monet, and van Gogh. 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.
Key pieces to look out for:
- René Magritte, Empire of Light
- Vincent van Gogh, Mountains at Saint-Rém
- Henri Rousseau, The Football Players
- Marc Chagall, Paris Through the Window
4. American Museum of Natural History
Official website: amnh.org; Address: 200 Central Park West; Adult Ticket Price: $28.
Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History documents human cultures, the natural world, and the cosmos. The museum’s most popular attraction is the museum’s fourth-floor dinosaur exhibit, with fossil skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, and some lesser-known duck-billed dinosaurs.
Key pieces to see:
- “Mr. Bones”, the T-Rex
- The Australopithecus afarensis Lucy
- The Blue Whale
- The Hayden Planetarium
5. The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Official website: 911memorial.org; Address: 180 Greenwich Street; Adult Ticket Price: $26
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum exists today as an institution to pay tribute to the memories of the victims and investigate the profound impact of 9/11. With an emphasis on healing rather than sadness or anger, the Memorial was designed to generate a space of serenity in one of the most hectic cities in the world. Entering the area, you will immediately be drawn to the Two reflecting pools with cascading waterfalls, set right within the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
The Museum, on the other hand, encourages visitors to learn about the history of the attacks, taking them step-by-step through the events of the day. Remembering this tragedy isn’t easy — but alongside painful reports come inspiring stories of awe.
Powerful installations not to be missed are, among many:
- The two pools designed by architect Michael Arad, titled “Reflecting Absence”
- The Memorial Glade, which honors the first responders who sacrificed themselves on that day
- The Survivor Tree, a pear tree salvaged from the wreckage at the World Trade Center site in October 2001
6. Frick Collection at Frick Madison
Official website: frick.org; Address: 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street; Adult Ticket Price: $22
The Frick Collection displays one of the world’s primary collections of European fine and decorative arts. Founded in 1935 by American industrialist and art patron Henry Clay Frick, the institution’s treasures include renowned works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Fragonard, Ingres, Bellini, and more. The collection is normally held at the Henry Clay Frick House but will be held at Frick Madison due to a renovation project until 2024.
Key pieces not to be missed are:
- Francisco Goya, The Forge
- Johannes Vermeer, Officer and Laughing Girl
- Diego Velázquez, Portrait of Philip IV in Fraga
- Jan van Eyck, Virgin and Child, with Saints and Donor
7. Met Cloisters
Official website: metmuseum.org; Address: 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park; Adult Ticket Price: $30.
The Cloisters Museum is the branch of The Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, the museum building is an ensemble of a medieval structure that combines ecclesiastical and secular elements.
The collection is comprised of more than 3,000 works of art from medieval Europe dating from the 9th through the 17th centuries. This includes feudal manuscripts, engraved reliquaries, stone sarcophagi, and exquisite jeweled objects.
Notable pieces not to be missed are:
- the Annunciation Triptych (ca. 1427–32, also known as Merode Altarpiece) by Flemish painter Robert Campin,
- the Scenes from the Life of Saint Augustine of Hippo painting (ca. 1490) by an unidentified Dutch artist
- a series of seven late-Gothic Flemish tapestries known as The Unicorn Tapestries
- the Virgin and Child statue by Catalan sculptor Guillem Seguer
8. The Morgan Library & Museum
Official website: themorgan.org; Address: 225 Madison Avenue; Adult Ticket Price: $22.
The Morgan Library & Museum originated as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the most distinguished collectors and benefactors in the USA. Mr. Morgan had begun to gather his collection as early as 1890, focusing research mostly on early printed books, historical manuscripts, and master drawings.
Mr. Morgan’s library was later built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Magnificent in appearance yet familiar in its scale, the library was designed to mirror the quality, nature, and importance of its treasures, and serves today as one of the best museums in NYC.
Exquisite pieces you cannot possibly miss include:
- the first three printed copies of the Bible by Gutenberg,
- the sheets music by Verdi, Debussy, Mozart, Schubert, Strauss
- the original drafts of masterpieces like “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, “Paradise Lost” by John Milton, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
- the drawings by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and even Antoine de Saint-Exupéery from the “Little Prince”
- the letters and diaries by Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Lord Byron, John Keats, Abraham Lincoln
- the first writings of “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “It Ain’t me Babe” by Bob Dylan
9. Whitney Museum of American Art
Official website: whitney.org; Address: 99 Gansevoort Street; Adult Ticket Price: $25.
Founded in 1931, the Whitney Museum of American Art is the world’s leading museum of 20th-century and contemporary art in the United States. The museum focuses specifically on the work of living artists at the starting point of their careers – often before their art has reached general praise.
With a history of showcasing the most influential artists and stimulating passionate debates, the Whitney Biennial, the museum’s signature exhibition, is nowadays considered the most significant survey of the state of US contemporary art. In May 2015, the Whitney opened at its new and permanent location downtown in a Renzo Piano-designed building, situated near the Hudson River.
Pieces you need to see at the Whitney include:
- Edward Hopper, A Woman in the Sun,
- Andy Warhol, Alice Neel,
- Marsden Hartley, Painting, Number 5
- Elizabeth Murray, Children Meeting
10. Tenement Museum
Official website: tenement.org; Address: 108 Orchard Street; Adult Ticket Price: $30.
The Tenement Museum is one of the most peculiar museums in NYC. Also known as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, this institution shows how immigrants from all over the world lived upon their first arrival in New York.
Although the museum’s reception is found on 108 Orchard Street, visitors can enjoy guided tours of several restored historic tenement buildings located at numbers 97 and 103. These constructions were home to over 15,000 immigrants from more than 20 nations between 1863 and 1935. Visitors can view restored apartments and retail areas in the same buildings, discover the neighborhood’s culture and history, and learn how immigrants slowly built their new lives. The personal stories of immigrant families allow visitors to understand immigration as a crucial force that shaped the US society, institutions, and economy.
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