There's an overwhelming amount of activities and experiences competing for your attention in New York City. A morning at Central Park, an afternoon spent taking in the sights from the Empire State Building, a night at a Broadway show—the options are endless. When planning a trip in the city, and you're looking for something affordable to do, consider a visit to a museum in NYC; many museums operate on a donation-based entry fee.
Whether you consider yourself a budding art critic or are simply looking for a cultural experience, walking the quiet—almost sacred—halls of a space dedicated to art, design, or innovation is time well spent. Even if you don't consider yourself an "art person," know that art curators say that a museum experience can be whatever you want it to be. Explore an unrivaled permanent collection of modern art at the Museum of Modern Art, learn about the past at the American Museum of Natural History, or experience art from all corners of the earth at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Keep reading to see some of our favorite museums in NYC and all of the exciting exhibitions on view.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Permanent Collection: The MoMA houses a truly unparalleled collection of modern art comprising almost 200,000 works—from photography and painting to performance and design. You'll recognize iconic works from the likes of Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Roy Lichtenstein, Edward Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. The artists whose work is displayed here deliberately rejected the expectations of traditional art and emphasized innovation and experimentation. As of 2019, MoMA is temporarily closed and will reopen in October.
On View in 2019: Private Lives Public Spaces (beginning October)
Must-See: "Starry Night" by Vincent van Gogh (1889)
Visit: 11 West 53 St. New York, NY, 10019
American Museum of Natural History
Permanent Collection: The American Museum of Natural History is home to incredible exhibitions on everything from dinosaurs to oceanic creatures. Spend the day in awe of the halls of the ornithischian dinosaurs, North American mammals, vertebrate origins, and ocean life. Incredibly educational, this museum will take you back to the days of school field trips and make you remember how vast the world really is.
Must-See: The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs
Visit: Central Park West & 79th St. New York, NY, 10024
Permanent Collection: The Guggenheim's permanent collection houses over 7000 artworks spanning from the late 19th century to today. Beginning with the private collection of Solomon R. Guggenheim, this was created from the idea that pure abstraction could be a spiritual experience. Expect to see abstraction, surrealism, impressionism, post-impressionism, and conceptual art.
On View in 2019: Basquiat's "Defacement": The Untold Story
Must-See: "Several Circles" by Vasily Kandinsky, (1926)
Visit: 1071 Fifth Ave. New York, NY, 10128
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent Collection: The Metropolitan Museum of Art allows you to experience the art of all cultures and time periods, thanks to a highly diverse permanent collection. You'll be treated to ancient artifacts from across the globe, fashion designs throughout the ages, painting, photographs, and sculptures.
At the Met, admission for New York state residents (as well as students in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) is "pay as you wish"!
On View in 2019: Camp: Notes on Fashion
Must-See: "The Dance Class" by Edgar Degas (1874)
Visit: 1000 Fifth Ave. New York, NY, 10028
The Frick Collection
Permanent Collection: Located inside a New York City mansion built by industrialist Henry Clay Frick, this museum holds 16 permanent galleries filled with Western paintings, sculptures, and decorative art. Admire 18th-century French furniture, masterpieces by Titian and Giovanni Bellini, as well as portraits by Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, Anthony van Dyck, and Johannes Vermeer.
Must-See: "Self-Portrait" by Rembrandt (1658)
Visit: 1 East 70th St. New York, NY, 10021
Whitney Museum of American Art
Permanent Collection: The Whitney's permanent collection comprises over 23,000 works of art created during the 20th and 21st centuries. These modern and contemporary pieces include works by Josef Albers, Carl Andre, and Robert Rauschenberg. The museum is also famous for holding the Whitney Biennial, an international art show that showcases the work of emerging American artists.
On View in 2019: Rachel Harrison Life Hack (beginning October)
Must-See: "A Woman in the Sun" by Edward Hopper (1961)
Visit: 99 Gansevoort St. New York, NY, 10014
The Morgan Library & Museum
Permanent Collection: The Morgan Library and Museum not only houses paintings and art objects but also medieval and renaissance manuscripts, printed music, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets. The museum's most popular holdings include drawings by Peter Paul Rubens, sheet music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and a handwritten manuscript by Henry David Thoreau. It's a haven for art lovers, music appreciators, and literary fiends alike.
On View in 2019: Guercino: Virtuoso Draftsman (beginning October)
Must-See: "Seated Male Youth" by Peter Paul Rubens (1600-1640)
Visit: 225 Madison Avenue New York, NY, 10016