A trip to New York City is incomplete without visiting the city’s illustrious list of museums. Buildings as impressive as the works contained within, we’ve compiled our must-visit list of New York’s best museums.
From fine art, contemporary and classics to natural history, we’ve chosen the finest along with exclusive Elite Traveler tips.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the world’s largest and finest art museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (or “the Met” to seasoned visitors) is home to more than two million works of art spanning over 5,000 years.
Impossible to view everything in single-digit visits, the museum’s collection includes glorious works of art from classical antiquity, paintings and sculptures from practically all the European masters, a broad collection of American and modern art, all-encompassing collections of musical instruments, costumes and weapons and armor from around the globe.
It’s easy to become lost in the Met, not only because of its expansive collection of the world’s best art, but the buildings themselves are a sight to behold (or not at all in some cases – certain structures are not visible from the exterior). The main building, positioned on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s Museum Mile, has a roof garden which provides glorious panoramic views of Central Park.
Elite Traveler tip: The Temple of Dendur is unmissable. Dating back to the time of Augustus Caesar (circa 15 BC), it is considered The Met’s most spectacular work in the Egyptian collection. The Temple was a gift from Egypt to the US in 1965 and occupies the Sackler wings. The space is illuminated by large skylights and mammoth windows (also providing spectacular views of Central Park) and a reflective pool that is designed to represent the Nile.
(Image: Instagram @metmuseum)
American Museum of Natural History
Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, the American Museum of Natural History (or AMNH) holds collections of more than 32 million specimens and artifacts – of which only a small proportion can be displayed at any one time, so every visit provides a fresh adventure.
One of the largest museums in the world, the American Museum of Natural History is celebrated for its exhibitions and scientific collections, including the iconic 94ft long blue whale and renowned fossil collections. There’s also special exhibits like the annual Butterfly Conservatory and fascinating Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium.
(Image: Instagram @amnh)
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The striking Solomon. R Guggenheim Museum (or The Guggenheim), located in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, houses an impressive and ever-expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early modern and contemporary art as well as lectures by artists and critics, performances, film screenings and daily tours of the galleries led by museum educators.
The building itself is a work-of-art and an unmistakable landmark of New York. Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design the spiralling gallery in 1943, and after 16 years, 749 sketches and six sets of plans, the structure was finally built. The building has since been named a National Historic Landmark, and in 2015, along with nine other buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building was nominated by the United States to be included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.
There is a main exhibition each season, and the permanent collections include famed works by Cezanne, Picasso, Manet and the largest collection of Kandinsky paintings to be permanently displayed in America. (Image: Instagram @guggenheim)
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a place that “fuels creativity, ignites minds, and provides inspiration. With extraordinary exhibitions and the world’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is dedicated to the conversation between the past and the present, the established and the experimental.”
Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, the MoMA is home to works by Picasso, Warhol, Pollock, Matisse, Braque, Van Goch, Cezanne and Magritte as well as an extensive range of films (22,000), film stills (four million) and also hosts frequent screenings and retrospectives, as well as performance art.
Elite Traveler tip: Be sure to visit contemporary American restaurant The Modern. Founded by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, the Michelin starred restaurant features “refined, unexpectedly playful dishes that highlight exceptional ingredients and seasonality” and overlooks the picturesque sculpture garden (pictured above).
(Image: Instagram @themuseumofmodernart)