NYC's Top 10 Museums: Bet You Can't Visit Just Once

Because the choices are stunning, this list focuses on the top 10 not-to-be-missed world-class museums that will take locals and visitors from a sculpture garden in Midtown Manhattan, to a sleepover beside a 94-foot blue whale or a dinosaur to scaling the heights of modern art inside an avant-garde building that will change how you see art forever. Spanning history, arts, culture and entertainment, New York City's institutions educate and inspire. And sometimes, through sheer size and scope, they can overwhelm even the most enthusiastic traveler.

 That’s why we have narrowed it down to our top 10 places for viewing, exploring and experiencing the best the city has to offer. All of the museums are accessible via the iron horse, known as the New York City subway.

 While the offerings are dazzling, the costs can be too. Consider purchasing any of several city passes now available, but be sure they include attractions, museums you absolutely want to see. Visit NYCGO for information on passes that can help manage costs and suggest manageable itineraries for the museum minded. 

Should you arrive in mid-June, join New York City's biggest block party, the Museum Mile Festival so you can walk the Mile on Fifth Avenue between 82nd Street and 105th Street while visiting seven of New York City’s finest cultural institutions, which are open free to the public throughout the evening. Most of the seven are right on this list: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Neue Galerie New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum; The Jewish Museum; Museum of the City of New York; and El Museo del Barrio, the others are waiting for you.



Located on Museum Mile, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum it was founded in 1897. It is the only museum in the U.S. devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design. Two years ago, The Cooper Hewitt unveiled the renovated and...  Read More



Stunning and bold, the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI) is housed on the original 13-acre lot that made up the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios --the most significant film and media production facility between Los Angeles and London, it is a...  Read More



Overlooking the western rim of Central Park, this neoclassical structure guards some of the oldest artifacts associated with the city of New York. The New-York Historical Society was founded in 1804 as New York's first museum and has been at its...  Read More

American Museum of Natural History
Photo courtesy of R. Mickens


One of the world's largest natural history museums with more than 33 million specimens and exhibits, the AMNH educates and entertains visitors, keeping them busy for quite some time. It would seem impossible to top the already-existing exhibits...  Read More



Established in 1923 the Museum of the City of New York's (MCNY) mission is to collect, preserve and present objects related to the original culture and history of New York City – from the gritty to the stunning. Originally housed in Gracie...  Read More



With extraordinary exhibitions and the world's finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is the world's foremost museum of modern art. This multi-level museum displays cutting edge contemporary works, as well as pieces by modern...  Read More



Former First Lady Michelle Obama ushered in the new Whitney Museum of American Art set in the heart of NYC's Meatpacking District at Gansevoort St., gateway to the High Line. Instagram was filled with photos of the museum's new, light-filled...  Read More



At the top of Museum Mile you cannot miss the dramatic Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art housed inside Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece of a giant nautilus shell. A monument to modernism, the unique architecture of the space, with its spiral...  Read More



One of the largest museums in the country. the Brooklyn Museum boasts some 1.5 million pieces of artwork. The first floor now features Infinite Blue, a special collection that presents blue in all its varieties with works from ancient times to...  Read More

The Metropolitan Museum


"The Met," as New Yorkers affectionately call it, is our Louvre. Its gargantuan halls of Egyptian, Roman, Greek discoveries never cease to capture the imagination. Docents lead guided tours, or venture on your own with audio headsets. Make no...  Read More


Meet Maria Lisella

No matter how many countries Maria Lisella has visited (62), this native New Yorker finds the world at her doorstep in amazing Queens where its residents speak 138 languages.

Maria writes...  More About Maria