Five New York Museums You Mustn’t Miss

November 11, 2019 9:00 am

New York has no shortage of museums, so how do you even know where to start? Below, we’ve done some of the work for you—we’ve picked the five New York museums you must not miss. (You still need to do the walking around yourself –but hey, that’s the fun part.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Why visit the Met?

The Met (not to be confused with the opera) is one of the world’s great museums for a reason—it has two million works of art and 17 curatorial departments; the works range from ancient times all the way up the present day. The building will wow you from the moment you see it from the Fifth Avenue—with its Beaux-Arts façade and sweeping Great Hall, you could easily spend quite a while just gaping at the entrance.
But there’s so much more to see!

How do you choose where to start?

Start off with the not-to-be-missed galleries—take a right when you enter, and wander through the Egyptian Galleries, making sure to see the centerpiece–the Temple of Dendur, which was given as a gift to the United States. (The galleries are arranged chronologically, which makes it easier.) Check out some of the small, out-of-the-way study galleries too. When you leave those galleries, you’ll be right near the Arms and Armor Court. Start off in the center gallery, in which the cavalry armor is displayed, and don’t mis the non-western armor, like that worn by Samurai warriors. When you leave, be sure to visit the American Wing Courtyard with its glass widows facing Central Park.

And highlights?

Everyone wants to see the Impressionist works of art, so swing by the second floor–while you’re up here, check out the recently renovated musical instruments galleries. You won’t be able to see everything in one visit (or 20) so leave some time to simply wander. Maybe the vast Asian art galleries? The masks in the African galleries? Don’t forget the Treasury full of gold pieces in the Ancient Americas galleries, or the beautiful period rooms. If you need some peace and quiet, the Astor court with its calming koi pond is the place to go.

The Met is one of New York’s five museums not to miss

Put The Metropolitan Museum on your list of the five New York museums you must not miss

Museum of Modern Art

Wasn’t MoMa recently renovated? How do I explore it?

Yes. With its expanded gallery spaces, completely reinstalled collections, and new spaces for live and experimental programs, it’s pretty much like a completely new museum. Drop into their new Creativity Lab to ask questions, participate in conversations, and even make some art. Check out the new store and dining options (an art lover’s gotta eat).

And that’s a good question that doesn’t have a right answer. You probably won’t want to miss the section that showcases works of art from the 1880s-1940s (yes, Starry Night is there) and the one that will undoubtably prove to be among the most popular–the space that showcases works from the 1970s-1970s. Some permanent installations will be switched every six months (so they’re not really permanent.) Different kinds of art are now displayed in the same gallery, as are works of art from different periods of time; there’s more of sense of connection among different works. You’ll want to visit several times–and that’s kind of the point.

The renovated Museum of Mldern Art is a must-visit in New York

Installation view of Architecture Systems (gallery 417), The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Robert Gerhardt

The New Museum

So, it must be asked. What’s new about the New Museum?

The New Museum was founded in 1977, so it’s new-ish. When it was first founded, it was the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in New York since World War 2. The museum encompasses art forms ranging from sculpture to photography, from artists around the world. It’s the place to go to see cutting-edge works; it’s focused on new art and new ideas, and is also focused on under-represented and emerging artists. Think of as the anti-art-museum art museum. It’s also got a cool building that’s worth checking out in and of itself—it looks like a stack of rectilinear boxes that are somewhat off-center. Interestingly, it’s a non-collecting museum, which keeps its focus on the new. It’s also the place to check out what’s happening globally and in the art world in general; make sure you have a lot of battery power, because no matter what’s happening there, it’s great for photos.

The Frick

Hasn’t the Frick been around like, forever?

If by “forever,” you mean, “since the early 1930s,” then yes, it has. The museum is kind of like one of those grand dames you see having a pot of tea and some crumpets at an elegant but faded tearoom—a little incongruous, but somehow reassuring and necessary. Housed in an elegant mansion on Fifth Avenue, the building is home to the collection of Henry Clay Frick. It includes works by eminent European artists including Fragonard and Vermeer, as well as gorgous porcelain and furniture. Just strolling through the galleries is like stepping into another era, and because it’s small, you can cover pretty much everything in one visit. It’s also incredibly calming just to walk around. Fun Fact: The Frick is the model for the Avengers Mansion in the Marvel Comics.

Fifth Avenue hosts many of New York’s great museums, including the Frick

The Frick, on Fifth Avenue, is one of our picks for the five New York museums you must not miss

The Brooklyn Museum

Join the throngs who cross the Brooklyn Bridge to visit the Brooklyn Museum

Across the Brooklyn Bridge you’ll find the world-class Brooklyn Museum

Is it worth going to Brooklyn to visit the museum?

Yes, absolutely. Did you know that the Brooklyn Museum has 1.5 million works of art? Or that it has one of the finest collections of Egyptian art in the world? Even if you didn’t (well, now you do) it’s worth a visit—or several. They also have a fine American art collection (Rothko, Hopper, Rockwell, and Homer, to name a few of the artists), as well as a Memorial Sculpture Garden, featuring salvaged architectural pieces from around the city. They’re also known for great special exhibits and public programs.

Looking to up your cool factor after you’ve explored some museums? Check out the way hipsters inhabit Brooklyn

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