The 22 Most Exciting Museums in New York
Latest update: January 5, 2023
Are you traveling to New York City and want to visit some museums? Excellent! New York offers a huge selection of interesting exhibitions and museums. No matter if it’s science, art, technology or history — everyone will find something here to their taste. We’ll tell you about the best museums in New York.
New York City is the ultimate dream destination for many. The metropolis is not only the setting for many famous films and books, it also has an incredible wealth of sights.
In addition to the many monuments, squares and curiosities, numerous world famous museums are also among the attractions of the city.
There’s even the famous “Museum Mile,” a part of Fifth Avenue where there’s practically one museum right after the next. It’s particularly practical for when you want to visit more than one exhibition on the same day.
Many of the museums are world-class and New York isn’t a cheap place in general, so the admission price for museums is often quite steep.
The good news though is that there are various New York passes that include entry to many of the best museums.
We’ve written an in-depth article on the different passes here:
Our New York pass comparison: which pass should you buy?
So that you can maintain an overview of the mess of museums in New York, we’ll introduce you to some of the most interesting and well known museums in New York.
You’ll get the most important info for each museum, such as the opening times, ticket prices and location.
Here we go!
Art museums in New York
New York is a paradise for art enthusiasts: there aren’t only a lot of art museums, they’re also all unbelievably well-equipped.
In the New York art museums, you can see countless world famous artworks and collections. There are also some museums that are dedicated to the latest art trends and promote young artists in particular.
Here, we’ll introduce the most interesting art museums of New York.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
An absolute must for art and culture lovers: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, often simply called “the Met.” The world famous New York art museum is visited by more than 7 million people each year.
Its vast collection of artwork is divided across three locations: the Met Fifth Avenue, the Met Cloisters and the Met Breuer.
The standard ticket costs 30 dollars and is valid for three days. You can visit all museums with the ticket within these three days.
The Met Fifth Avenue
The Met Fifth Avenue is the main building and is located on the eastern edge of Central Park, directly on Museum Mile.
Since the building is so huge, it’s worth thinking about everything you’d like to see before your visit.
The section on American art alone houses over 4,000 paintings, drawings and sculptures. There are also more than 12,000 exhibits in the field of handicrafts.
Europe is represented with Greek and Roman art, as well as paintings and sculptures from all time periods. Egyptian, Asian and Indigenous art are further focuses of the museum.
In addition, there are collections on historical musical instruments, weapons, armor and costumes, and also a photography section.
There are of course also regularly changing temporary exhibits on various art forms.
Our tip: be sure to see the roof terrace of the museum. From here, you have an incredible view over Central Park and the New York skyline. An absolute must, especially at sunset!
Closed on wednesday
The Met Cloisters concentrates entirely on medieval art. Around half of the medieval artwork of the Met is housed here, while the other half is found at the Met Fifth Avenue.
The Met Cloisters is in the north of Manhattan, around 40 minutes away from the main building with public transportation.
From the outside alone, the Cloisters are already worth seeing because it was built just like a medieval cloister that you might see in Europe – so it’s not really a building that you’d expect to see in the middle of Manhattan.
Architectural fragments of French monasteries were actually used in the construction and some elements are part of the art exhibit itself.
Various works of art are on display from the European Middle Ages, such as paintings, stained glass, manuscripts and sculptures.
Closed on Wednesday
MoMA stands for Museum of Modern Art. The famous art museum is found in Manhattan between 5th and 6th Avenue.
The MoMA is the ultimate museum for fans of modern art: its collections are among the most influential and extensive in the world. The exhibits include works of art by Picasso to Van Gogh to Andy Warhol, and from Mark Rothko all the way to Gerhard Richter.
The display items of the MoMA are not only limited to classical art forms like painting or sculpture, but also include film, photography and design.
The ticket costs 25 dollars per person here too and should definitely be purchased online in advance, since the MoMA is always popular to visit and has long lines.
Online ticket without the wait for the MoMA
By the way, you can find the second MoMA location, MoMA PS1, in Queens. It’s completely dedicated to contemporary and experimental art.
Our tip: if you visit New York in the summer and are looking for a true New York party, you should definitely swing by MoMA PS1 on a Saturday. The party series “Warm Up” takes place there from June to the beginning of September, with live music, international musicians and DJs.
Admission to MoMA PS1 costs 10 dollars per person and can easily be bought on site, as you can get in pretty quickly there.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is usually just called the Guggenheim. It bears the name of the founder of the foundation that manages the museum.
The futuristic museum building, with its distinctive rotunda design, is also located on Museum Mile, directly across from Central Park.
It’s devoted to modern art and primarily shows works of abstract art, Impressionism, Expressionism and Surrealism.
The displayed works are less strictly organized by period or style than in other art museums. They often come from private collections.
A visit to the Guggenheim Museum is also worthwhile because of the extraordinary interior design of the building. The large, light-flooded interior with its curved galleries makes the museum one of the most worth seeing in New York.
Our tip: If you’re not really too interested in the exhibition, but you’d still like to take a peek at the impressive interior, you can still take a look in the foyer without a ticket.
Tickets for the Guggenheim cost 25 dollars. It works as a day ticket, which means that you can leave and then go back into the museum again on the same day.
This museum is also always frequently visited, so it’s worth buying the ticket in advance and skipping the line.
Day ticket for the Guggenheim without the wait
Closed on tuesday
Whitney Museum of American Art
The main focus of the Whitney Museum of American Art is American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. In particular, current works from living artists are exhibited here.
The museum has already relocated multiple times. Since 2015, its location is in the southwest of Manhattan.
In addition to the permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum offers different opportunities to witness the artistic creative process.
One special feature is the Whitney Biennial. This large scale exhibition takes place every two years and informs interested parties about the newest developments in American art.
The Whitney Museum of American Art also costs 25 dollars per person and tickets can be pre-ordered online.
Tickets are Pay-What-You-Wish on Fridays between 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm.
Tickets with inclusive audio guide for the Whitney Museum of American Art
Our tip: the Whitney has a great roof terrace too with a small cafe and a view of the Statue of Liberty. Be sure to take a look!
Closed on tuesdays
The Frick Collection is something for you if you’re interested in European art. The museum is found in the south of Museum Mile in Manhattan.
Many of the most well known European artists are found here, such as Goya, Tizian, Rubens and Turner. All periods from the Renaissance to the end of the 19th century are represented.
In addition, rare sculptures, furniture, clocks and textile works of art are exhibited.
Admission costs 22 dollars per person. You can get tickets either on the official website of the museum or also on site.
Monday to wednesday closed
Neue Galerie – that’s actually the name of a New York art museum. The small, elegant museum on 5th Avenue is ideal if you don’t want to plan so much time for your museum visit.
The small collection consists of works of German and Austrian artists between 1890 and 1940. Paintings, sculptures, photography and other art forms are on view.
The Neue Galerie is famous for its original works by Gustav Klimt.
Admission also costs 25 dollars per person here. There are sometimes interesting deals though, such as a “Pay-What-You-Wish-Admission,” where you can pay however much you’d like for admission.
You can easily buy tickets there, as you can always get into the museum quickly.
Tuesday and wednesday closed
New Museum of Contemporary Art
The New Museum of Contemporary Art is another museum for contemporary art in New York.
The striking museum building, with its seven offset floors, is found between 10th and 11th Avenue at approximately the height of the Lincoln Tunnel in the Bowery district.
The museum is entirely dedicated to current art trends. Young artists and new art movements are given the chance to present themselves to the public here.
In comparison to other museums of contemporary art in New York, you’ll find more art here by international artists.
Admission costs 18 dollars per person. On Thursdays between 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, you can choose how much you’d like to pay yourself, as there’s a “Pay-What-You-Wish” deal.
You can easily get tickets on site or on the official website of the museum.
Museums about nature and technology
In New York there are also of course some outstanding museums about nature and technology.
American Museum of Natural History
A classic in the New York museum landscape: the famous American Museum of Natural History has been around since 1869. Since then, it has offered its visitors fascinating exhibits on countless scientific topics.
Whether outer space or deep sea, natural history or climate change — this museum invites young and old explorers to get to know our planet better. Exhibits, interactive activities and virtual experiences are all part of a museum visit here.
The gigantic dinosaur bones and the life-size model of a blue whale are among the main attractions.
A special feature of the museum are the regularly changing events with experts from different sciences. It’s definitely worth taking a look at the events calendar on the website before your visit.
There are three different tickets for the American Museum of Natural History.
The general admission ticket costs 23 dollars per person, but you don’t have access to the temporary exhibits, IMAX film or Hayden Planetarium Space Show with it.
With the “General Admission + One” ticket, you can visit one of the three additional exhibits. This ticket costs 28 dollars.
The “General Admission + All” ticket gives you access to all areas of the museum for 33 dollars.
All tickets for the American Museum of Natural History
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
If you’re particularly interested in the topics of space, seafaring and aviation, then there’s the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. It’s found on the converted aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid, on the banks of the Hudson River.
The central focus here is on four exhibits and their histories: the aircraft carrier itself, the USS Growler submarine, the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and the Concorde, which set the record for the fastest flight across the Atlantic.
Fun fact: the USS Intrepid has also been seen in several films, including “I Am Legend” with Will Smith.
The museum ship is very easy to reach and is located on the Hudson River at 46th Street.
Admission costs 33 dollars per person. At Get Your Guide, there’s a flexible entrance ticket that’s valid for one month from the date of the ticket. That way you won’t be bound to any specific day.
Flexible online ticket for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
New York City Fire Museum
The former fire station of SoHo is home to the New York City Fire Museum.
Across three floors, the building houses numerous display items on firefighting spanning several centuries.
From the historical fire engine from the 18th century to the most up-to-date protective clothing, you can see everything here. Temporary exhibits on special topics and permanent exhibits tell of the work of the New York City Fire Department.
The information on fire safety and emergency procedures is also interesting. After an introduction, visitors can practice the correct actions to take during a home fire with a member of the fire department.
You can buy tickets on site or also on the official website of the museum.
Closed on mondays and tuesdays
New York Transit Museum
You can find the New York Transit Museum in the center of Brooklyn. It’s located in a closed subway station, the former Court Street subway stop.
The authentic setting is not only perfect for an exhibition space. It’s also often used for film shots.
In the spacious museum grounds, you’ll find numerous historical vehicles from the history of New York public transportation: busses, trams and subway cars. You can even climb in and take a seat yourself.
Additionally, there are always temporary exhibits on public transportation.
Tickets for the New York Transit Museum cost 10 dollars per person and can be purchased on location or on the website.
Mondays to thursdays closed
New York of course has loads of history museums to offer as well. From recent history of the city to artifacts from ancient Egypt, there’s a huge selection of historical topics to choose from.
The following history museums in New York are definitely worth visiting:
9/11 Memorial Museum
The 9/11 Memorial Museum is found on Ground Zero, the former location of the World Trade Center, and it focuses on one of the darkest days of New York’s history.
In the exhibition rooms, you’ll find objects, artifacts and artwork that are connected to the events of September 11th. Additionally, there is detailed information and documentation about the attack.
The three sections of the museum deal with the time before September 11th, the day itself and its aftermath.
Admission costs 26 dollars per person.
This is one of the most visited museums in New York and there’s almost always a line. So be sure to book tickets online in advance.
Tickets without the wait for the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Our tip: there are free entrance tickets on Mondays from 7:00 am on the website.
In addition to the museum building, you can visit the 9/11 Memorial, which is freely accessible. There you’ll find two huge, square pools that were built on the exact locations of where the towers once stood.
9/11 Tribute Museum
The 9/11 Tribute Museum is another, somewhat smaller museum that’s practically next to Ground Zero.
Here you can learn a lot about the personal stories of people that witnessed the attacks in Manhattan, such as rescue teams, local residents and families of the victims.
What’s unique about this museum is that witnesses of the events of September 11th work here and share their memories with visitors.
There are also guided tours offered along the pools of the 9/11 Memorial, which are led by witnesses or relatives of the victims.
Standard ticket for the 9/11 Tribute Museum for 15 dollars
Ticket with guided tour from a witness for the 9/11 Tribute Museum for 15 dollars
Closed on Sundays
9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop
The 9/11 Ground Zero Museum Workshop is located in the Meatpacking District of New York. The museum’s exhibit mainly focuses on the reconstruction after the attacks.
Interesting documentation shows you the work of firefighters during the rescue operations. The exhibit includes the famous “Frozen Clock” and a part of a bible that was recovered from the rubble.
Tickets cost 25 dollars and can be bought on site or on the official website of the museum.
Sundays to tuesdays closed
New York Historical Society
The New York Historical Society is the leading institute for scientific research into the history of New York and the United States.
The museum is found near Central Park and houses documents and exhibition objects from the history of the city.
There’s also an extensive research library and a collection of works of art.
Special exhibitions examine historical and social topics such as the American Revolutionary War, the history of the women’s movement or the living conditions in New York over the past centuries.
Other exhibits are dedicated to American politicians, artists and writers. The vast collection of Tiffany lamps is also particularly worth seeing.
Tickets for New York historical Society
Mondays and tuesdays closed
The Brooklyn Museum is one of the oldest museums in the United States. The impressive building dates back to the 19th century and is found on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn.
The museum’s collections are diverse. The extensive Egyptian collection is very renowned.
You can find Asian, ancient and Middle Eastern art on the first two floors.
The third floor introduces you to the American way of life and everyday objects from past centuries.
The upper floor is dedicated to modern American art and European art.
Our tip: the Brooklyn Museum is the second largest museum in New York, so the same applies here: if you don’t want to spend the whole day in the museum, it’s best to think about what you’d like to see beforehand.
Tickets for the Brooklyn Museum
Mondays and tuesdays closed
Museums with kids
If you’re traveling with your family, you might have a few different requirements for museums in New York. They should generally be more child-friendly and more interactive.
The Intrepid Museum and the Natural History Museum, which were both presented here, are both really exciting for kids.
Here are a few more of the most fun museums in New York for kids:
Here you can feel like Gulliver among the Lilliputians. The museum is the biggest museum for miniature landscapes in the world.
Our tip: plan enough time for the visit! It’s difficult to pull yourself away from this fantastic exhibit. On approximately 4,600 m² of exhibition space, you’ll find cityscapes and natural landscapes from across the Earth and from all time periods.
Young and old visitors especially enjoy the countless trains, ships and other vehicles that move through the miniature landscapes and cities.
The museum is one of the most expensive in New York and costs 36 dollars for adults and 27 dollars for children aged 4 to 12.
$36 for adults, $27 for kids
SPYSCAPE Spy Museum
An interactive museum to the core near Times Square, where young and old can try out being secret agents.
Identification wristbands, personal profiles and interactive missions: in the Spyscape Museum, you slip into the roll of an agent. You can test your skills during the interactive tasks.
The individual exhibits inform you about the history of espionage. Encryption, internet espionage and famous espionage cases are some of the topics covered.
Attention though: for children to have fun in the activities, they should be able to speak some English.
The standard ticket costs 39 dollars for adults and 32 dollars for kids.
This museum is also very frequently visited, so it’s worth getting the ticket online in advance.
$39 for adults, $32 for children
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
When you’re at Times Square, you can swing by Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The countless flashing lights on the front of the building point you in the direction of the museum.
It’s named after the American reporter and cartoonist LeRoy Robert Ripley, who loved to collect curiosities.
For this reason, the museum is also called the “Odditorium.” It shows unique, unusual and strange exhibition objects from around the world.
Tickets cost 32 dollars on site, while the online tickets on the official website are just a bit cheaper at 25.60 dollars.
32$ for adults, $24 for children
Those were all of our top museums in New York that we can definitely recommend. Have you also visited one of these museums or can you suggest some more? Then please leave us a comment!