The Museums You'll Want To Visit On A Trip To New York City

The United States is a melting pot of culture, in which New York City stands at the epicenter. With a population of over 8 million people who come from different backgrounds and cultures, NYC celebrates diverse knowledge and art. There's not much you can't see in NYC, so it makes sense that the city would be jammed with museums of practically anything you could even dream of looking at.

From world-famous art pieces and histories from around the world to the great tragedies that have shaped the hearts of man, there are endless stories being told in the museums of New York City. The city has so many must-see museums that it would be pretty easy to dedicate a whole trip just to seeing them all, and pretty simple considering the majority are easily accessible with New York's subway system and almost all the museums we've mentioned here have their admission included in the New York Pass, which acts as a master ticket to a number of popular attractions in the city.

While taking a museum-based vacation may be a fine idea for the knowledge-driven traveler, most visitors may want to pick just a few museums to explore between all the other stellar attractions that NYC offers. Thankfully, we've laid out some of the best museums available for travelers, no matter where their interests may lie.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York is home to some of the most famous museums in the world, one of which is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or better known as the MET. Not only is it the largest and most visited art museum in the United States, but it hosts an exclusive annual event that consistently trends on social media after it is held.

The MET Gala is one of Hollywood's signs that you have made it in the industry, as celebrities who receive an invitation to the Gala are typically at the forefront of the media and fans' attention. Themed differently each year, the MET Gala is a fundraiser for the museum's Costume Institute and is basically the most prestigious event for designers, where attendees wear elaborately designed costumes for the party. The outfits themselves are works of art, and people all over the world weigh in on their favorites.

If the fashion world finds great merit in the MET, the rest of the art world does as well. The world-renowned art museum is home to famous paintings from a number of art periods and styles. Paintings by Picasso and Jackson Pollock have found a home there as well as ones by Caravaggio, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Monet. The MET has more than a little bit to interest any kind of art lover, and should definitely be on your list of museums to see in New York.

Museum of Modern Art

Another of the world's most famous museums, the MoMA houses hundreds of thousands of pieces of modern art, including some of the most recognizable in the world. It would be difficult to find at least one painting of a widely famous modern or contemporary artist that hasn't entered the walls of the Museum of. Modern Art. Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night" has found a permanent home at the MoMA, as well as works by Picasso, Dali, and Warhol.

In addition to having one of the world's most famous Modern art collections, the MoMA is in a prime location for travelers wanting to focus on exploring New York City's city center. The museum is located just a few blocks from Central Park and is surrounded on all sides by hotels, restaurants, bars, and unique NYC attractions. Experiencing the hustle and bustle of the heart of New York City is something everyone should do at least once, and you might as well see some world-famous wonders while you're at it.


Across the East River in Queens is the MoMA PS1, a unique venue that showcases new art from thoughtful and sometimes controversial artists. An affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1 showcases experimental and innovative art that uses many different mediums. While the world-famous MoMA shows off art from all over the world that has and will continue to go down in history as some of the most influential, MoMA PS1 strives to find the current ways art is being changed and transformed by new artists.

Exhibits at MoMA PS1 change regularly and feature art that is reflective of issues in our modern world as well as visuals from everyday life explored in different ways. Past exhibits include guerilla art that transforms plant life found in between city buildings, textiles, performative art, and large-scale paintings that work together to tell a story. If paintings from hundreds of years in the past don't do it for you, you may want to check out MoMA PS1's current exhibits — you never know which art pieces will become this century's most famous.

9/11 Memorial & Museum

If you are any older than 25, chances are you understand the weight that comes along with the mention of 9/11. It's been over 20 years since the horrific event happened in New York haunting the rest of the United States. The site of the Twin Towers has been preserved as a permanent memorial to all those who lost their lives in the attack, and those who visit the memorial have described the experience as one of enormous sorrow.

Around 3,000 people died in the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001 and each one had a family that was affected by the loss. The National 9/11 Memorial & Museum displays information about the infamous terrorist attack and also explores how the tragedy has impacted the country even today.

The footprints of the Twin Towers have now been turned into large waterfalls. The permanent memorial of the towers acts as a reminder of what was lost that day, and the waterfalls are designed to mute the busy city noise so that proper reflection is possible.

The Jewish Museum(s)

New York City has the largest population of Jewish people in the country, and is only beat out by Tel Aviv, Israel for the largest Jewish population in the world. Considering this massive community, it only makes sense that there would be some solid Jewish museums in New York City.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage focuses on education about Jewish culture and life surrounding the Holocaust. The exhibits dive into what it was like before, during, and after the Holocaust and strives to fulfill what they consider is their moral obligation to never forget the tragedy, and influence others to remember as well. The Jewish Museum, on the other hand, focuses on the impact that Jewish people have had on culture and art, and its gorgeous exhibits showcase how diverse and creative the history of Jewish art is.

While both well known Jewish museums are quite different in content and mission, they are equally moving. Whether you have ties to the Jewish community or not, visiting one of the museums is a great addition to a New York City vacation.

American Museum of Natural History

New York may be home to some of the most famous human-made art in the world, but it also honors the art of the natural world. Within the American Museum of Natural History is a planetarium, butterfly conservatory, and some pretty ginormous animal models. The 94-foot model of a blue whale is awe-inspiring as it hangs overtop of museum visitors while they peruse the Hall of Ocean Life. Dinosaur lovers will be entranced by the huge casts that greet patrons on the dinosaur floor.

The American Museum of Natural History is visually stunning and puts a lot of what we may take for granted about nature on full display. There is plenty to learn at the museum for both adults and children. Visitors may leave with a new understanding of what is or once was out in our world – they even may develop a new passion for a natural wonder they never knew existed before. The possibilities are really endless when it comes to the American Museum of Natural History, and the extensive dives into culture and nature are worth the hours you can spend there.

Museum of Sex

Plenty of people share the opinion that museums can be pretty boring, but you'd be hard-pressed to lose interest in New York City's Museum of Sex. The museum hosts intriguing art installations and exhibits that currently even include a 4-floor erotic carnival. While certainly not a family-friendly environment, the Museum of Sex is something that you should see if even at all curious.

The Museum of Sex can be described as pure fun, with some installations clearly designed with humor in mind to amuse the visitor. The museum may make light of sex and the animalistic nature of it — like with its many sculptures of animals doing the deed — but there are also quite a few thought-provoking and important pieces of art within the museum. One recurring theme in the ever-changing art installations is sex positivity, and there are a number of creative displays with other themes. If you're looking to add a little spice to your NYC trip, give the Museum of Sex a shot.

New Museum

While MoMA may be New York's most popular museum that displays contemporary art, the New Museum is one of New York's only large art museums that focuses on new and contemporary art and artists. The New Museum is dedicated to showcasing new and diverse ideas from all over the world.

The innovative and diverse museum has interactive exhibits for patrons to enjoy, beginning before you even walk through its doors. The building itself is a wonder to behold and an example of how contemporary art challenges perspectives and pushes the limit of art. Surrounded by your typical city buildings, the New Museum stands tall against the sky and appears translucent. The colors used for the building, which is composed of a number of box levels, make it blend in with the sky and almost appear as though it is not really there. Visiting New York City's New Museum is an ethereal experience both inside and out, especially if art is your thing.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Another destination for art lovers visiting the Big Apple, the Solomon R. Guggenheim houses art from a number of world-famous artists, like Pablo Picasso and Édouard Manet. Interestingly enough, the building of The Guggenheim itself is a unique piece of art and is iconic in the art world, specifically in the world of architecture.

The building that houses the collection of iconic art pieces was designed by world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who is widely considered the best architect of modern times. The circular, layered look of the outside perfectly reflects the spiraled interior and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum remains one of Wright's most famous designs, out of over 1000 buildings he designed over the course of his career.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum holds educational programs specifically designed for parents and their children who want to learn about architectural design. In addition to its famous art collection and the iconic building, the museum also plays host to a performative art scene and has its own performance theater. Whether you just want a peek at the building from the outside or actually want to explore everything the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum has to offer, it's a great stop to add to your itinerary while in New York.

Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

Drawing in around a million visitors a year, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum is blatantly unique at first glance. The museum itself is a very real aircraft carrier that was in service during World War II and the Vietnam War. The retired war vessel contains some very real history other than its own, including a test space shuttle called the Enterprise.

The Intrepid Museum combines history with science as it explores the impact and contribution of many different types of vessels throughout more recent history. In addition to the Enterprise, a number of naval vessels have found a home in the museum, like a submarine and a supersonic airliner. The museum rotates exhibits, and it currently is showcasing a number of space travel related exhibitions, like a look into female astronauts of the past, among some naval deep dives.

As one of the most visited museums in New York City, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum is not one that you should miss. If you are a history buff, space fanatic, or love learning about the world's more recent war history, the Intrepid Museum is a must-see.

The Frick Collection

New York is an artful city and that takes art history pretty seriously because some of the best art collections in the world are found there. The Frick Collection permanently houses some of the most important art from the Old Masters, which refers to some of the most renowned European artists who created masterpieces from the Renaissance period to the 1800s.

The Frick Collection contains paintings from iconic artists like Goya, Vermeer, Titian, Rembrandt, and countless others. In addition to the museum's collection of paintings, The Frick Collection also recognizes a number of other art mediums from the era, from ornate and decorative furniture and textiles to sculptures and ceramics. The museum also has a collection of clocks, and the masterful workmanship in the design of the clocks, from pendants and pocket watches to longcase clocks, is something to admire.

While there are plenty of art museums in New York City to fill your time with, The Frick Collection is one to visit if you are particularly drawn to the era of the Old Masters. If you are traveling with family, it's wise to note that families may be welcome and children between 10 and 17 are met with free admission, those with smaller children will have to sit this one out, as those under the age of 10 are not allowed in the museum.

Fotografiska Museum

A much more modern art form than some of the world famous paintings and sculptures found in New York City, Fotografiska Museum is dedicated to the art of photography. The museum is a whopping five floors full of inspiring and artful photography from artists all over the world. Artists and photographs rotate in and out of the museum regularly and strive to offer unique perspectives and insights in their subject, through various genres of photography.

Not only is the Fotografiska Museum a place to appreciate great photography, but it's also a place to appreciate food and drink in a unique and classy way. The museum contains a restaurant, cafe, and bar. Both the restaurant and bar are picturesque, the bar located in an updated chapel and the restaurant having a classy and ornately beautiful aesthetic.

Everything from the design and art installation to the overall vibe of the Fotografiska Museum is not-so-simply beautiful. There is seemingly nothing about the museum that is not unique, and creativity is around every corner, making it a must-visit if in New York.

The City Reliquary

One of New York's most quirky museums, The City Reliquary started out as a display window in a private residence and is now a nonprofit museum made up of a storefront that is located not far from the original site. The museum consists of artifacts from New York's past, a lot of which are everyday objects like subway tokens and water bottles.

The museum contains an extensive collection of Statue of Liberty-related items, like figurines and cards. Similarly, The City Reliquary contains a number of homages to New York City architecture, whether it be parts of buildings or photos. Public transportation through the decades and baseball both have their places at the museum as well.

If you're the kind of traveler who looks for oddities and hole-in-the-walls when you visit a new place, The City Reliquary fits the bill. The museum offers an interesting perspective of New York City and is something of a time capsule of the city's days gone by.