There is just one feature which I indisputably adore in New York City: its museums. The variety of them and the richness of their collections are both astonishing, so I’m certain that even if you don’t usually like museums, you’ll find one to fall in love in there.
1.The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met opened in 1880 and is arguably the most amazing museum in New York and my personal favorite. If you needed a quick (well, not that quick) reminder of all the history of humanity, you’re in the right place.
Huge Egyptian collection, Ancient Greece and Roman Empire insights, iconic Temple of Dendur, Oceania artefacts, China and Japan related objects, Medieval halls, interior design timeline, the whole history of paintings from the Old Masters up to the modern era, and many more are awaiting you – entire parts of buildings are brought together here!
I would strongly suggest you to pop in once during the late opening hours because seeing all these artefacts in the semilight feels like an almost spiritual experience.
Tips: don’t ignore other parts of the The Met too such as The Breuer and The Cloisters.
2. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Museum of Modern Art is another marvel of New York City – it became home of multiple pieces of XX century art including Henri Matisse, Kazimir Malevich, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Roy Lichtenstein, Salvador Dalí, Andy Warhol and many more.
You can’t help feeling a Déjà vu: you’ve probably seen reproductions of the majority of paintings exhibited there. Don’t forget to glance outside the windows from time to time too – te views over the city are amazing!
3. The Frick Collection
If you’re missing Europe while in the US, pay a visit to The Frick Collection. It’s mansion of Henry Clay Frick, industrialist and art collector, whose personal collection opened to the public in 1935. Enjoy Old Masters, furniture, enamels, ceramics all organically included into the interiors!
Photography is forbidden in the entire building apart from the Garden Court. Only a small part of the building was accessible to the visitors during my visit – maybe you’ll get more luck!
4. Museum of the City of New York
Want to dive into the history of New York from the very beginning up to the contemporary changes illustrating the main values of the city now such as civil rights movements what shaped the modern city? You can also have a glimpse of future projects such as an initiative to make the city greener!
All the main sides of it are described in detail and with numbers, including trade, immigration, nationality of those arriving, mortality etc.
Temporary exhibitions are worth your attention too – during my visit I really enjoyed them!
5. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
It can be contemplated that the building of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most notable constructions in the whole city which opened its doors to the public in 1959!
This architectural gem hides many treasures inside too including the porcelain white atrium, staircase and non-objective art including the Kandinsky’s largest collection in the US.
But during my first visit the biggest queue gathered around the functioning gold toilet called America, a sculpture by Maurizio Cattelan. Life is weird, right?
6. American Museum of Natural History
Another must see in NYC is usually considered to be the American Museum of Natural History which this year celebrated 150 years since its opening. It showcases some artefacts of the history of the world and of various cultures around and holds the science sections too. If you’ve seen the movie Night at the Museum, 2006, you know how it looks inside.
Although it is usually considered iconic and evolution hall is nice, I wasn’t really impressed by its collection especially the biology-related one: it felt like it needed a proper dust cleaning.
7. Ellis Island museum
If you choose to join the Statue Cruises departing from the Battery Park (which is a great idea because everyone has to see the Statue of Liberty when in NYC!), choose a tour that includes The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Although some recent deviations in American politics deny it, the history of the United States and especially New York has been highly influenced by immigrants.
And you simply can’t miss the place where ships from the whole world brought the 12 million people who dreamt to start a new life in the US – their personal stories are the best part of the exhibition indeed.
8. National September 11 Memorial & Museum
9/11 is a tragedy that changed the United States forever – and visit to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum is a must. It is located exactly on the site of the World Trade Centre where not one, but two terrorist attacks took place: in 1993 and in 2001, and includes the detailed timeline, personal objects and legacy of people affected by it. There is no need for words describing the museum – just go and see it for yourself.
9. Cooper Hewitt Museum
Any design lovers in here? Then go to Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, another museum occupying a mansion of Andrew Carnegie, and opened to the public in 1896. The thing that really impressed me was the Pen I was given: I could scan the code of every object in the museum with it and see more info about them any time in the future just by signing in to their website with my unique code on my admission ticket. Isn’t that incredibly handy?
Besides that, the temporary exhibitions are amazing – for instance, I attended the ‘Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color’ one with explanation of the science behind the color perception, various tints, materials and the objects of art reflecting the role of color in life.
10. The Morgan Library & Museum
The most magnificent library I’ve ever seen in the world is The Morgan Library – and I’m sure that you’ll be amazed by it too!
The building still looks like private apartments of J. Pierpont Morgan near the Grand Central station with many authentic artefacts including manuscripts, three Gutenberg Bibles, the first edition of A Christmas Carol by Dickens, and a magnificent collection of music pieces and medieval objects. Tolkien exhibition was exceptional too.
11. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a 3-in-1 catch. See all five branches of the U.S. armed forces (the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard), NASA space shuttle Enterprise and submarines. The biggest exhibit is a real aircraft carrier Intrepid itself, a National Historic Landmark that has seen action during the World War II and the Cold War and then became a floating museum, – walk along the ship and explore the life the people who served had.
A collection of the museum would not only be of interest to any military or sea-faring enthusiast but the scale of objects presented will impress any tourist (and especially the younger ones).
12. National Museum of the American Indian
Another museum worth a quick visit is The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. George Gustav Heye who established the museum in 1916 has assembled collection throughout his life and, by the time of his death, his collection included about 700,000 individual items. Although The National Museum of the American Indian doesn’t seem very popular with tourists and experienced some controversies regarding its exhibits, you won’t regret popping in and exploring both its temporary and permanent collections.
The museum occupies the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House which is a delight to the eyes by itself.
13. The Skyscraper Museum
If you have some spare time, pop into this small but very informative The Skyscraper Museum near Battery Park. Watch New York skyline change over the years and learn the history behind the most iconic buildings such as the Chrysler, the Flatiron, Twin Towers, Rockefeller Center and so many more.
Hope you enjoyed my blog!