Although New York City is known for its rich cuisine options and prominent historical place on the world stage, it’s also been a haven for scientific institutions almost since its inception. Sure, there’s history museums, art museums, and everything in between, but in this guide we’re going to walk you through the best science and technology museums that will peak your curiosity along the way!
We’re talking air and space installations, dinosaurs, aquariums, and a whole lot more! Here’s our list of the most inquisitive science museums in NYC right now!
1. American Museum of Natural History
Featured in many Hollywood movies and highlights of the city, the American Museum of Natural History easily ranks as one of most iconic and best science museums in NYC. With new exhibitions being planned all the time focused on spreading information about the natural world, the universe, and human cultures through its internationally recognized research and education programs, many scientists from around the globe consider its collections and scientific work to be one of the most impressive in the entire world.
Be sure to check out their permanent exhibitions, as well those currently on display like “Extinct and Endangered” and “Sharks.”
Where: 200 Central Park West
2. New York Hall of Science
Founded at the 1964 World’s Fair, the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) has served as a center for New York’s students, teachers, and families to learn about science in a hands-on and interactive fashion for decades. Via a proprietary approach called Design Make Play, the New York Hall of Science encourages visitors to learn with a passion, think critically, and participate in their communities as active citizens!
The New York Hall of Science places a particular focus on diversity and wants people of all backgrounds and ethnicities to address contemporary challenges from a technological and scientific perspective. Stunning in both its visuals and exhibits, this museum greets guests with a swirling architectural design of glass and concrete. Blown-up and intricate images showcase the complexities of everything from cancer cells to ice crystals.
Exhibits like the “Happiness Experiment” teach visitors how happiness works on a biological and psychological level. These interactive experiments also teach children and adults tips for how to infuse happiness into their lives, behaviors with potentially life-changing impact.
Where: 47-01 111th St, Queens
3. National Museum of Mathematics
An internationally recognized museum with multiple awards under its belt, the National Museum of Mathematics teaches guests the hidden beauty within mathematics and the way it shines through in the everyday world. By highlighting the mathematical patterns visible to those just perceptive enough to notice, this museum features dynamic exhibits and programs that encourage curiosity and intellectual engagement with math.
MoMath includes activities like “Coaster Rollers”, an experiment that highlights how unusual shapes with constant diameters still roll smoothly across a floor, “Pattern Mesh”, a game for children and adults that involves layering competing patterns over each other, and “Hyper Hyperboloid”, an illusion created when you spin in a chair within a cylindrical chamber and experience the creation of a curved surface made up of straight lines.
Where: 11 E 26th St
A fun and unexpected addition to the best science museums in NYC list, Spyscape offers an educational experience like none other. With curriculum and training developed by the former M16 Head of Training, Spyscape allows guests to complete spy challenges, get “profiled” on their skills, and explore high-tech gadgets and secrets traditionally only available to real secret agents.
Once initiated into the building, visitors receive 40 pages of personalized results on individual behaviors, thought patterns, and skill sets curated by museum experts. Along with this free analysis, you can explore and try out gadgets included within the high-tech museum. From micro-bugging devices to a U2 spy plane camera, guests can immerse themselves in the underground history of international spies and learn about the successes and pitfalls real-life agents experienced.
Where: 928 8th Ave
5. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Located aboard an actual aircraft carrier, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum melds history, military service, and science together in a museum experience like a few others. Named a National Historic Landmark, the Intrepid allows visitors to walk through its massive frame and explore original artifacts, archival video footage, and interactive exhibits to learn more about its storied legacy.
This museum home to both naval artifacts as well as early American space shuttles includes exhibits like The Growler, the first guided missile submarine system available for public view, and the Concorde Alpha Delta G-BOAD, a record-breaking plane that completed the fastest-ever crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in its day.
Where: Pier 86, W 46th St & 12th Ave
6. Museum of Illusions New York
In the mood for some magic? Although magic and science don’t typically appear in the same sentence, the Museum of Illusions (MOI) New York is a notable exception. With an encompassing visual, sensory, and educational experience built into its structure, the Museum of Illusions New York allows visitors to immerse themselves in jaw-dropping and confusing exhibits – all without the use of a magic wand.
Experience all sorts of holograms, optical illusions, and stimulating installations, where seeing isn’t necessarily believing. Assumptions about the world aren’t necessarily true and can easily be hidden behind a very convincing illusion!
Where: 77 8th Ave
7. New York Aquarium
Founded in Battery Park all the way back in 1896, the New York Aquarium has served as a key connector between NYC city dwellers and the ocean wildlife located just off its shores. Home to over 500 species of marine wildlife, the New York Aquarium joined with the New York Zoological Society in 1902 and has participated in educational and conservation efforts ever since.
With over 14 acres of real estate on Coney Island, the aquarium also includes 18 different shark species as part of its famous Ocean Wonders: Sharks! Exhibit. You’ll find all sorts of sharks (as well as other sea-life in their main Conservation Hall and other exhibits).
Where: 602 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn
8. Hayden Planetarium
Although the Hayden Planetarium is technically part of the American Museum of Natural History, it’s cool enough in its own right to get its on inclusion! Step into the world of astronomy at this museum add-on, and learn about planets, stars, celestial beings, and a whole lot more!
The coolest part? The planetarium sits inside a large and futuristic sphere that seems to float inside a glass cube. Their current show “Worlds Beyond Earth” will take you through groundbreaking space missions and jaw=dropping earth visual immersions that will blow your mind, lightyears away.
Where: 200 Central Park West