Top 5 Museums in NYC

Top 5 Museums in NYC

New York City is home to a plethora of world-class museums, boasting a rich and diverse range of art, history, science, and culture. With so many amazing institutions to choose from, first-time visitors might find it challenging to decide which ones are worth their time. That’s where our American Holidays New York City travel experts come in – they’ve combined their extensive knowledge of the Big Apple to curate a list of the top 5 museums in NYC that should be on every tourist’s must-visit list.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

Located in the bustling heart of midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) houses an extraordinary permanent collection that features iconic works by some of the most influential artists of the modern era.

Alongside these masterpieces, MoMA also hosts regular exhibitions showcasing the talents of renowned artists such as Picasso and Van Gogh, as well as groundbreaking photography, film, design, and performance art.

American Museum of Natural History

Situated on the Upper West Side next to Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History attracts nearly 5 million visitors annually.

The vast array of exhibitions spans earth and space halls, fossil halls, animal halls, environment halls, and human and culture halls, providing a comprehensive overview of the known natural world and human history.

Don’t miss out on the awe-inspiring Hayden Planetarium, the enchanting Butterfly Conservatory, and the captivating whale and dinosaur displays that are sure to delight both kids and adults alike.

When visiting the American Museum of Natural History, make sure to download the free “Explorer” app for your smartphone before you arrive. The app provides you with an interactive map to navigate the vast museum, personalised tour suggestions based on your interests, as well as detailed information about specific exhibits.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located in the vibrant cultural hub of New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the Met, stands as an iconic institution that showcases the grandeur of human creativity throughout history. 

Housed in a magnificent Beaux-Arts building on Fifth Avenue, the Met is a treasure trove of artistic wonders, spanning thousands of years and encompassing various civilisations and cultures from around the world. Its extensive collection boasts awe-inspiring masterpieces, encompassing everything from ancient Egyptian artefacts to Renaissance paintings, Impressionist masterworks to contemporary installations. 

Whether you’re captivated by classical sculptures, mesmerised by intricate textiles, or enthralled by avant-garde installations, the Met offers a mesmerising journey through the depths of human artistic achievement.

To enhance your visit, the museum provides guided tours and free audio guides that can be downloaded to your phone, ensuring a truly immersive experience.

The best times to plan your visit are at 10am when doors open each day of the week, 3pm on weekdays or late on Friday’s or Saturday’s when it tends to be quieter. Admission is pay as you wish for resident New Yorkers, but for everyone else, admission fees are approximately $30 for adults, $22 for seniors, and $17 for students. 

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

A visit to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard Street is a must for anyone interested in the captivating history of the immigrants who settled in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This iconic neighbourhood was once home to thousands seeking a new life in the land of opportunity. Step inside the landmark Tenement Building, which housed over 7,000 people from 20 different countries between 1863 and 1935, and learn about the lives of past residents through engaging and informative guided tours. 

Visitors can also take part in immersive walking tours around the Lower East Side, which highlight the enduring impact of immigrants on the neighbourhood and how it has evolved over time.


The New Museum

As a hub for contemporary art, the New Museum is a striking architectural gem located on the Lower East Side. Resembling a stack of boxes towering over the Bowery, the building itself is an artistic marvel. The museum is dedicated to exhibiting the work of living artists, particularly those who have yet to receive mainstream public exposure. 

The New Museum also hosts a wide range of events and installations and maintains an extensive digital archive. To deepen your appreciation of the exhibitions, consider joining one of the free public tours offered by the museum.

When visiting the New Museum in New York, be sure to take advantage of their “Pay-What-You-Wish” admission policy on Thursday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. This program allows you to set your own admission price, making the museum more accessible to a wider range of visitors. Arrive early, as there may be a line, and enjoy the opportunity to explore the innovative contemporary art exhibitions at your own pace.

Additionally, consider visiting the museum’s Sky Room on the seventh floor, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding Lower East Side neighbourhood and beyond. The Sky Room is open to the public during regular museum hours and can serve as a relaxing space to take a break and absorb the inspiration from the exhibitions you’ve just experienced.

New Museum NYC (1)

Discover More…

New York City is a treasure trove of world-class museums, each offering a unique and enriching experience for visitors. Some honorary mentions that are worth a visit but didn’t make our shortlist include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Whitney Museum.

Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture, history, and artistry that these museums have to offer and make your New York adventure one of awe and constant learning. Speak to one of our travel experts today to start booking your dream trip to NYC, and let us tailor the perfect museum itinerary for you.

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By Paula McMullan

Personal Travel Planner

Favourite Destination: New York City

I love a trip to New York City, the big apple never disappoints. A must see destination with incredible diversity, vibrancy and entertainment, There’s truly something for everyone in New York. Personally I love to eat in Little Italy or just spend the evening watching the world go by in Greenwich Village while sipping a glass of red in one of their many bistros. The energy and pace of this fantastic city that will capture you heart immediately, the shopping is not bad either!