New York is the crown jewel of the East Coast and features some of the best museums in the world. Whether you’re looking to learn about a particular topic or just want a unique way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon, a good museum is always a great idea! The best thing about New York is that you can find an exhibit on just about any interest you may have, from history to modern day art. Plus, thanks to NYC’s top-notch public transportation, you may be able to hit several museums in a single day. No matter what your interests are, we’ve ranked the best museums in NYC to spend a day at.
1. The Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is widely regarded as one of the top art museums not only just in NYC, but in the world. It offers a collection of modern and contemporary works that include architecture and design, painting, photography, video, sculpture, electronic media, and more. The MoMA is home to Starry Night and classic works by Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollack, and Frida Kahlo, among others.
The MoMA is open Sunday through Friday from 10:30 am – 5:30 pm and Saturday from 10:30 am – 7 pm.
Where: 11 W 53rd Street
2. The American Museum of Natural History
Located in the heart of Manhattan’s prestigious Upper West Side, the American Museum of Natural History is one of New York’s most iconic cultural institutions. The museum is known for its exhibits on the history of the natural world and scientific collections. With over 30 million specimens that include animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and artifacts, it’s one of the best museums in NYC to learn about the progression of human history.
The American Museum of Natural History is open from 10 am – 5:30 pm Wednesday through Sunday and closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Where: 200 Central Park West
3. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as just the Met, is one of the top museums in NYC and the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere. It features over 2 million works of art divided into 17 different departments. Spanning over 5,000 years of human culture, the Met is home to famous works ranging from prehistoric civilizations to the modern-day. Visitors can enjoy works from famous artists, including Van Gogh, Georgia O’Keefe, Picasso, and more.
The Met is open from 10 am – 5 pm on the weekdays (except Wednesday when it’s closed), and from 10 am – 9 pm Friday and Saturday.
Where: 1000 5th Avenue
4. The Guggenheim
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, also known as just the Guggenheim, is an art museum in Manhattan’s Upper West Side known for its rotating collection of works and Frank-Lloyd Wright-designed building. The design’s spiral shape allows visitors to peruse the various collections on display in a continuous loop that goes to the very top. Visitors of the Guggenheim will find classic works in styles ranging from cubism to surrealism to abstract expressionism.
The Guggenheim is open from 11 am – 6 pm on the weekdays (except Tuesday when it’s closed), and 11 am – 8 pm on Saturday.
Where: Guggenheim at 1071 5th Avenue
5. Brooklyn Museum
If you find yourself in Brooklyn, you have to have to check out the Brooklyn Museum, which packs just as much of a punch as the biggest museums in Manhattan. Similarly to the MoMA and Met, the Brooklyn Museum offers a little bit of everything from period rooms of historic art all the way to modern contemporary exhibits. They even have a Virgil Abloh exhibit running right now that you don’t want to miss!
The Brooklyn Museum is open 11 am – 6 pm Wednesday-Sunday.
Where: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn
6. The Frick Madison
The Frick is an art museum famous for its Old Master paintings and works from the European Renaissance. The museum is named after Henry Frick, an industrialist, and financier who gave his home and art collection away to the public when he died. The museum has since expanded and is now home to classic paintings by Bellini, Rembrandt, Goya, and more.
The Frick is open from 10 am – 6 pm Thursday through Sunday and closed Monday through Wednesday.
Where: 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street
7. The Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of Art, also known as just the Whitney, is an art museum in the Meatpacking District. With a focus on living artists, the Whitney is home to a wide variety of works ranging from 20th Century to contemporary American art. Their collection includes over 25,000 works from around 3,700 American artists, including works by famous artists like Edward Hopper and Willem de Kooning. The Whitney is one of the best museums in NYC for those who appreciate contemporary American art.
The Whitney is open from 10:30 am – 6 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday (Tuesday, it’s closed), 1030am – 10 pm on Friday, and 11 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Where: 99 Gansevoort St
8. The Morgan Library and Museum
Located in Murray Hill, the Morgan Library is a research library and museum that features an extensive collection of manuscripts, art, books, prints, and other classic works. It was created as banker JP Morgan’s private library but later made a public institution by his son.
The Morgan Library is open daily from 10:30 am – 5 pm, except on Monday when it’s closed.
Where: 225 Madison Avenue
9. The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Situated in the picturesque Upper East Side, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian is a museum dedicated to the history and development of contemporary design. One of the 19 museums under the Smithsonian umbrella, the Copper Hewitt features collections and exhibits on 240 years of innovation and progress in design.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Museum is open daily from 10 am – 6 pm (except for Wednesdays when it’s closed).
Where: 2 E 91st St
10. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a museum in NYC dedicated to the victims of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. The museum features exhibits commemorating the events and the victims that lost their lives, including more than 40,000 images, 14,000 artifacts, 3,500 audio recordings, and 500 hours of video documenting what happened that day.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is open 10 am – 5 pm Thursday through Monday and closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Where: 180 Greenwich St
11. Museum of the Moving Image
The Museum of the Moving Image is a new media museum in Astoria. Located in the former building of the historic Astoria Studios, the museum is dedicated to the history of film, television, and digital media. It features multimedia exhibits on entertainment trends from the early 20th Century to modern-day, making it one of the best museums in NYC on the subject of new media.
The Museum of the Moving Image is open from 2 pm – 6 pm on Thursdays, 2 pm – 8 pm on Fridays, and 12 pm – 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays (it’s closed Monday and Tuesday).
Where: 36-01 35th Ave, Queens
12. The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration
If you want to learn about the history and development of New York City, then the Ellis Island Museum of Immigration is a must-see. The museum features artifacts and records that chart the history of the US programs that made NYC such an important hub of immigration during the 19th Century. While visiting Ellis Island, you can also stop by the Statue of Liberty, another historic monument nearby that is crucial to NYC’s identity.
The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration and statue of Liberty are open daily from 9:30 am – 4:45 pm.
Where: Statue of Liberty National Monument
13. The Tenement Museum
Located in the heart of the Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum features exhibits that showcase the lives and experiences of the immigrants who came to New York seeking a better life. The museum is housed in two restored tenement buildings on Orchard Street that were once home to over 15,000 people from 20 different nations. It features exhibits on period rooms that have been restored to show the typical lives of the people who lived there from 1869 to 1935.
The Tenement Museum is open daily from 10 am – 6 pm.
Where: 103 Orchard Street
14. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Step into the world of aircrafts, technology, and spacecraft at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Manhattan’s maritime museum. This barge turned museum located in Hell’s Kitchen features a staple collection of historical aircraft carriers, war vehicles, and even a historical space shuttle! No matter if you want to learn more about about the history of these vehicles, or you’re more fascinated in the technology behind it, this spot is so cool to see in person! They also have rotating exhibits alongside their permanent collections.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.
Where: Pier 86, W 46th St
15. Jewish Museum
Located on the Upper Eastside is The Jewish Museum, the largest and oldest museum dedicated to Jewish culture. Located in the gorgeous former Felix M. Warburg House, this cultural hub boasts thousands of artifacts, art pieces, photographs, and more about Jewish history. The reason we love this museum so much is because it celebrates both Jewish culture, while also acting as contemporary art museum celebrating Jewish artists! Walking through the rich and historical cultural heritage in this museum is certainly eye opening and stunningly beautiful.
The Jewish Museum is open Monday and Friday-Sunday from 11 am – 6 pm, and Thursday 11 am – 8pm. They are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Where: 1109 5th Ave &, E 92nd St
16. MoMA PS1
Sister to the larger Museum of Modern Art, the LIC location of MoMA PS1 is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit contemporary art museums in the country. Ps1 focuses on upcoming and emerging contemporary artists that aim to break the status quo and inject creativity into the art scene with their ideas. If there’s one museum that’s vision is “artist-first” it’s PS1. Plus, they are always teaming up with members of the community and doing partnerships that help push forward their philosophy of “celebrating the tenacity of creative expression to inspire connection.”
MoMA PS1 is open 12 pm – 6 pm Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and from 12 pm – 8 pm on Saturday. They are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Where: 22-25 Jackson Avenue, LIC
17. New York Transit Museum
The NYC transit system has kept New Yorkers on the go for over 110 years and at the New York Transit Museum, you get an exclusive walkthrough of how the subway and transit system has transformed and connected the locals since its inception. Located in an authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, guests can hop on board vintage trains, sit behind the wheel of an old NYC bus, and so much more. They have a rotating selection of vintage subway cars and tons of artifacts that tell the story of the triumphant engineers that have built New York’s most important way to get around.
The New York Transit Museum is open 10 am – 4 pm Thursday – Sunday.
Where: 99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn
18. Museum of Sex
Sure the Museum of Sex might be rather tongue in cheek, but their mission to explore human sexuality has deeper underoots that makes this museum a must-visit. Their artifacts range from erotica and porn all the way to installations based on how technology affects sexual behavior. Hitting this museum can be a quirky, yet introspective journey all in one! They have over 15,000 items in their permanent collection and have rotating exhibitions that explore gender studies, technology, behavior, sex culture, and so much more.
The Museum of Sex is open 1 pm – 10 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 1 pm – 12 am on Friday, 12 pm – 12 am on Saturday and from 12 pm – 10 pm on Sunday. They are closed on Tuesdays.
Where: 233 5th Ave
19. Museum of Ice Cream
In for a tasty treat? Check out the Museum of Ice Cream which is more of an immersive experience than a traditional museum. Walk through all sorts of colorful and tasty exhibitions that will have your sweet tooth feeling like you’re in heaven! Play games, take selfies, and even jump into their giant pool of rainbow sprinkles, all while learning about the history of ice cream. This will surely bring your inner-kid out of you! Plus, at the end of the museum be sure to stop in their cafe and retail store to try one of the museum’s signature ice cream flavors!
The Museum of Ice Cream is open 10 am – 7:30 pm Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. They are open 10 am – 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm on Friday, 10 am – 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm on Saturday, and 10 am – 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm – 7 pm on Sunday. They are closed on Tuesdays.
Where: 558 Broadway
20. New Museum
Last but not least, the New Museum is Manhattan’s only dedicated contemporary art museum and is a hub for “new art and new ideas.” What started as a single gallery has now turned into a center of art that “embraces contemporary art from around the world, diverse perspectives, and the free exchange of ideas.” This museum is perfect for art lovers who are curious, introspective, and adventurous. Be sure to stop by this spot if you’re looking to open your mind up to new ideas and explore the world of creativity.
The New Museum is open 11 am – 6 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday-Sunday, and 11 am – 9pm on Thursday. They are closed on Mondays.
Where: 235 Bowery