Top 5 Museums in New York City

From parks to bridges, from squares to skyscrapers, there is a truly overwhelming number of attractions in New York City. A visit to the Big Apple, especially if it’s your first one, simply must include the major highlights, such as Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, and Times Square and One World Trade Center. You are also strongly encouraged to take the time to visit some of the fantastic New York City museums.

New York City is home to several world-class museums, exhibiting everything from medieval art to fossils, books and historic events. To help you figure out which New York City museums to include in your first itinerary for New York City, I have compile the following list of the top 5 museums in New York City.

The 5 Best New York City Museums

5. New York Public Library

New York City Museums: New York Public Library, Grand Study Hall USA
Grand Study Hall, New York Public Library: photo on Flickr by Alex Proimos / CC BY-NC 2.0

The New York Public Library is actually a collection of libraries spread across this vast metropolis. Its combined collection has almost 53 million items—think about that number for a second—which makes it the United States’ second largest public library, and the fourth largest in the entire world. During your visit to New York City, you will want to focus on the library’s Main Branch, which is by far the largest branch of the New York Public Library. It is, in fact, what most people refer to when talking about the library.

The Main Branch of the New York Public Library is situated at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. This imposing building is a major landmark, declared a National Historic Landmark in the 1960s. Its main highlight is the majestic Rose Main Reading Room. The library is free to visit.

4. National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

New York City Museum: 9/11 Memorial Museum
9/11 Memorial Museum: Photo on Flickr by Augie Ray / CC BY-NC 2.0

The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum are two separate units. The 9/11 Memorial lies on the exact spot where once the Twin Towers stood. Now, the area is a free public park dotted with trees an featuring two huge, square pools with waterfalls, located on the respective sites of the two towers.

The National 9/11 Memorial Museum is located a short walk up the street and is the main institution displaying the events, aftermath and implications of 9/11. A visit to this museum can only be described as touching, even humbling. Its collection consists of almost 2,000 spoken testimonies by people who experienced the horrors first-hand and histories of people who lost their lives; more than 10,000 artifacts; and 23,000 pictures and images. At the time of writing this post, tickets cost $24 per adult. It’s money well spent.

3. The Guggenheim

New York City Museums: The Guggenheim
The Guggenheim Museum: Photo on Flickr by Lucas Richarz / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Officially known as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, this iconic art museum is arguably the most striking of all New York City museums and is often referred to simply as The Guggenheim. Situated on Fifth Avenue, at the intersection with East 89th Street, The Guggenheim is both an architectural masterpiece, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and a world-class modern and contemporary art museum.

Founded in 1939 by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (there are other Guggenheim museums in Venice, Bilbao and Abu Dhabi, all boasting similarly impressive, futuristic designs), it holds an ever-growing permanent collection of art from the past couple of centuries, from Impressionism to Post-Impressionism and Modernism. Artists whose work is on display include such greats as Gauguin, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Degas, Picasso, Mondrian and Manet. Admission at the time of writing is $25 per adult.

2. American Museum of Natural History

New York City Museums: American Museum of Natural History Tyrannosaurus Rex
Tyrannosaurus Rex in American Museum of Natural History: Photo on Flickr by Daniel Mennerich / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Just like the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., the American Museum of Natural History in New York City is absolutely extraordinary. It is located in Central Park at 79th Street and is one of the world’s biggest museums. This vast museum is made up of no fewer than 27 buildings that are all interconnected and  house an incredible 45 exhibition halls. There is also a library and a planetarium.

The collection of the American Museum of Natural History comprises a mind-boggling 32 million artifacts, from minerals and meteorites to human bones and ancient fossils to cultural items and stuffed animals. This fabulous museum has an admission fee of $22 per adult.

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York City Museums: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Photo on Flickr by Steven Pisano / CC BY 2.0

Arguably the best-known of the New York City Museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or simply the Met, is situated along Central Park on Fifth Avenue and is the largest art museum in the United States and one of the most visited in the whole world. With a permanent collection of about 2 million artworks, this magnificent museum is a must-visit destination in New York City.

Its collection contains an almost unbelievable variety of different art,  from sculptures from ancient Egyptian and the classical antiquity to Islamic, Indian and African art to American art and virtually all the European masters. It also houses superb collections of music instruments, costumes and weaponry from all over the world. The suggested admission is $25 per adult, but you can choose how much you want to pay.

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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