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10 of the best museums and art galleries in New York

New York does not disappoint when it comes to cultural attractions, from independent neighbourhood galleries to massive Neoclassical temples dedicated to history. Even better, many are free or have a pay-what-you-wish policy. Browse through our ultimate collection of the best museums and art galleries in NYC.

Want to get off Museum Mile? Scroll to the bottom of the page for our pick of the best small and alternative museums in New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Though at the top of everyone’s New York museum list, ‘The Met’ is a bit of a misnomer these days. As well as the landmark and truly colossal museum on Fifth Avenue (which dates back to 1870), there is also the Met Breuer and Met Cloisters, with one ticket gaining entry to all three. The original collection is the largest art museum in the United States, covering over 5,000 years of art from all corners of the globe. It sweeps from Egyptian artefacts, through to medieval weapons and on to avant garde art, and includes the relocated sandstone Temple of Dendur, which once overlooked the River Nile.

Don’t miss… The newly-opened Met Breuer (as of March 2016), which offers a more contemporary experience of exciting local talent and international artists. Current exhibits include Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi and Unfinished, a fascinating collection of unfinished works, both intentional and otherwise, by various artists over the ages.

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 10am – 5.30pm, Friday to Saturday 10am – 9pm.

Price: Adults $25, children under 12 free. (Note – admission fee only a suggested donation).

How to get there: Subway 86th Street. The main museum is in Central Park, and a key stop on New York’s Museum Mile. For more on things to do in the park and other green spaces in NYC, check out this article.

The Met museum, New York


The New York Museum of Modern Art is quite simply one of the world’s great temples to modern art, with Modernist works from all around the globe. As well as 150,000 pieces of art, the collection is said to include more than 20,000 films and millions of movie stills. On display are European masters Picasso, Dali and Van Gogh, as well as North American artists in a gallery all art buffs will want to spend more than a single day at.

Don’t miss… American painter Jackson Pollock’s seminal and remarkable work, One: Number 31, 1950.

Opening times: Daily 10.30am – 5.30pm (Fridays open late to 8pm).

Price: Adults $25, under 17s free.

How to get there: Subway 47-50 Streets Rockefeller Centre. MOMA is just south of Central Park, near the Rockefeller Center and not far from Times Square.

MOMA, New York

The 9/11 Museum

This deeply thought-provoking museum delves deep into the tragic events of September 11th 2001, when New York’s famous Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists as part of a series of co-ordinated attacks on America. The museum explores the significance of this epochal event and the individual tragedies of the victims and their families. It also looks beyond the immediate aftermath to examine the importance of both commemorating 9/11 and how it is now woven into the collective memory.

Don’t miss… A visit to the moving 9/11 Memorial at the same site.

Opening times: Sunday to Thursday 9am – 8pm, Friday to Saturday 9am – 9pm.

Price: Adults $24, youths (7-17) $15, children under 7 free.

How to get there: Subway World Trade Center. Located at the World Trade Center ‘Ground Zero’ site, in lower Manhattan.

The 9/11 memorial, New York

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The Whitney Museum of American Art

This museum was the brainchild of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney at the turn of the twentieth century. It was intended to foster living American artistic talent and she continued to be a patron until her death in 1942. This is an essential stop if you want to learn more about the story of American art over the last century, with many of the featured artists unfamiliar to even to locals. Highlights include creations by Alexander Calder, Glenn Ligon, Reginald Marsh, Agnes Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cindy Sherman and David Wojnarowicz.

Don’t miss… The free daily tours on offer – ask on arrival.

Opening times: Every day 10.30am – 6pm, Fridays open late: 7pm – 10pm.

Price: Adults $22, under 18s free. Fridays 7pm – 10pm: pay what you like.

How to get there: Subway 14 Street. The museum is on the west side of Manhattan in the city centre.

![The Whitney museum, New York]( "The Whitney museum, New York")

The Guggenheim

The Guggenheim is worth visiting just to enjoy the remarkable concrete spiral building by Frank Lloyd Wright, which has housed the collection since the 1950s. It was commissioned by the art collector and visionary behind the museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim. Wright intended you start your exploration of this colossal collection of twentieth and twenty-first century art at the bottom of the rotunda and then slowly work your way up, and this is certainly the best way to see everything. Watch out for major works by European masters Manet, Picasso and Chagall and catch the temporary exhibitions offering something new on every visit.

Don’t miss… The collection of works by pioneering abstractionist Kandinsky, the largest anywhere in the United States.

Opening times: Sunday to Wednesday 10am – 5.45pm, Friday 10am – 5.45pm, Saturday 10am – 7.45pm. Note that the museum is closed on Thursdays.

Price: Adults $25, children under 12 free. Sat 5.45pm – 7.45pm: pay what you wish.

How to get there: Subway 86th Street. The museum is located on the Museum Mile (Fifth Avenue) by Central Park, in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

![The Guggenheim Museum, New York]( "The Guggenheim Museum, New York")

The Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum is one of New York’s more unusual museums. You can only visit as part of a pre-booked group tour, but each tour involves venturing inside the landmark building on 97 Orchard Street to explore the surrounding neighbourhood on foot. This tenement – which dates back to 1863 – once crammed in almost 7,000 working class immigrant workers and its main aim is to tell their tough stories, while also panning out to cover the social and political issues of this pivotal period in American history. See the Tenant Museum Virtual Tour online for a sneak peek before your visit.

Don’t miss… The Tenement Museum Shop at the end of the tour, with its brimming stock of books, puzzles and quirky home design objects that make brilliant gifts to take home.

Opening times: Monday to Tuesday 10.30am – 5pm, Wednesday 10.15am – 5pm, Thursday 10.30am – 6.30pm, Friday 10.15am – 5pm, Saturday to Sunday 10.30am – 5pm.

Price: Adults $25, Children $20 (note each tour has a minimum age cap, either mandatory or suggested).

How to get there: Subway Grand Street. The museum is located on the Lower East Side, five minutes from Chinatown.

The Tenement Museum, New York

The American Museum of Natural History

This gigantic museum interprets the natural world in a way that is accessible as well as understandable to all, so it’s a hit whether you need a kid-friendly museum or are going it alone. It’s all here, taking you on an epic voyage from meteorites and minerals, through to taxidermy elephants and alligators. The eclectic collection is spread across 45 halls, plus the Rose Centre for Earth and Space. If you’ve pencilled in a day here, it’s worth splashing out a little on the extra tickets for the IMAX and 3D cinema experiences and the planetarium.

Don’t miss… The dinosaurs. Even the grumpiest visitor loves a dinosaur!

Opening times: Daily 10am – 5.45pm.

Price: Pay what you wish, suggested donation: Adults $22, children 2-12 $12.50.

How to get there: Subway 81st Street. Find the Natural History Museum at Central Park West, on 79th Street.

The American Museum of Natural History, New York

Museum of the Moving Image

Focused on the history, technology and development of the moving image in America, this classic New York attraction works for all visitors, from eight to 80 year-olds, as it covers computer games and digital gadgets with some well-designed interactive exhibits, as well as early cinema. The main collection, known as Behind the Screen, gives you a clue to the unique appeal of this museum, and you can spend a surprising number of hours delving into the glory of film production in all its stages and guises.

Don’t miss… The regular film screenings. Check the website for details of what’s coming up.

Opening times: Wednesdays to Thursdays: 10.30am – 5pm, Fridays: 10.30am – 8pm. Saturdays and Sundays: 11.30am – 7pm.

Price: Adults $15, children 3-17 $7, under 3s free. Fridays 4pm-8pm free admission.

How to get there: Subway Steinway Street. Museum located in Astoria in Midtown Manhattan.

![Museum of the Moving Image, New York]( "Museum of the Moving Image, New York")

The New Museum of Contemporary Art

More commonly known as just ‘The New Museum’, this hotbed of cutting-edge New York culture is a must for visiting hipsters. Starting life in the 1970s but relocating to a specially-commissioned building on the Bowery in 2002, the space itself is a work of art: a seven-storey, $50-million stack of gleaming white boxes, crafted by the Tokyo architects Sejima and SANAA. Ever unafraid to host unconventional and daring artworks, from the likes of Tom Doyle and Arleen Schloss, there’s also a constantly refreshed programme of events and conferences, many of which are free. Prefer hip city breaks to beach holidays? We’ve got five more US cities, teeming with unusual art spaces and caffeine stops in minimalist cafés for you to check out.

Don’t miss… The free tours at 12.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Be sure to book on arrival.

Opening times: Wednesday 11am – 6pm, Thursday 11am – 9pm, Friday to Sunday 11am – 6pm.

Price: Adults $16, under 20s free.

How to get there: Subway 2nd Avenue. Another centrally-located Manhattan museum, you’ll find it near St Patrick’s Old Cathedral.

Jewish Museum

Housed in an elegant Fifth Avenue mansion, this collection is dedicated to the "enjoyment, understanding, and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people". Its 30,000 exhibits explore everything from archaeological artefacts and beautiful costumes, through to challenging and inspirational works by modern Jewish artists. They also host the New York Jewish Film Festival here every January.

Opening times: Sunday to Tuesday 11am – 5.45pm, Thursday 11am – 8pm and Friday to Saturday 11am – 5.45pm.

Price: Adults $15, under 19s free.

How to get there: Subway 92 Street Y. The museum is located on the east side of Central Park, four blocks north of the Guggenheim.

Don’t miss… A range of illuminating free tours are offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

![The Jewish Museum, New York]( "The Jewish Museum, New York")

New York’s best small museums

Been there, done that? If MoMa or the Met are just a bit mainstream for you, read on for some crowd-free alternative museums in NYC, perfect for filling an afternoon…


Word of mouth travels fast in NYC, so what may well be the world’s smallest museum is not as much of a secret attraction as it once was. That said, this one-room oddity, housed in an elevator shaft, is certainly an alternative experience to the cavernous halls of the Natural History Museum. Filled with unexpected trinkets like ISIS currency, objects designed for the blind and a topical look at the phenomenon of Donald Trump, the rotating programme of ‘seasons’ ensure there’s always something worth queuing up for (only three people are allowed in the space at a time!).

Opening times: Thursdays and Friday 6 to 9pm, Saturdays and Sunday 12pm to 6pm.

Price: Free, with a suggested donation.

How to get there: Cortlandt Alley, Tribeca (off Broadway). Get the subway to Canal Street.

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Morbid Anatomy Museum

Fans of disturbing Victorian ephemera, look this way. Anatomical artefacts from around the world and all manner of things concerned with ‘death, beauty and that which falls between the cracks’ line the walls of this obscure museum in Brooklyn. Bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘morbid fascination’, the current show is House of Wax, a collection of bizarre waxworks from a nineteenth century German museum of curiosities. Check the website for lectures and events, and pop into the shop to purchase a take-home curiosity of your own.

Opening times: 12pm to 6pm every day except Tuesday.

Price: $8, free for under 12s.

How to get there: Located at 424-A 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn. Take the F, G, or R to the 4th Ave – 9th St subway stop.

The Morgan Library & Museum

One of the finest small art museums in New York, this grand Madison Avenue estate was once home to the financier J.P. Morgan and still includes his personal collection of Rembrandt and William Blake drawings, amongst other treasures. The City of the Soul exhibition is on until September and features literary and artistic depictions of Rome by Turner, Piranesi and Edward Lear. The most exciting space is arguably the gorgeously-frescoed library, worth whiling away a few hours in.

Opening times: Tuesday to Thursday, 10.30am to 5 pm, Friday 10.30am to 9pm, Saturday 10am to 6pm, Sunday 11am to 6pm.

Price: $20 Adults, $13 concessions, free for under 12s.

How to get there: Found at 225 Madison Avenue, you can walk here from Grand Central and Penn Station.

Renwick Hospital Ruins

OK so it’s not technically a museum, but these crumbling Gothic ruins offer a fascinating glance into the social history of New York. The abandoned Renwick Hospital was originally opened in 1856 and treated some 7000 smallpox patients in the days when the disease ravaged the local population. You can’t go inside, but are allowed to walk around the decaying building, which is eerily lit-up at night and prone to mysterious noises. This might explain why it’s also been lauded with the crown of ‘most haunted attraction in NYC‘.

Opening times: No official opening hours as such, but those with a nervous disposition may want to stick to the daytime…

Price: Free (view from the outside).

How to get there: Renwick Hospital is on Roosevelt Island. Take the F line on the subway and walk south along West Road to E Road. The hospital will be on your right.

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