New York City is known for its many world-class museums, so it can be hard to decide what to squeeze into your sightseeing schedule when you’re in the city. Here are our picks for the top five cultural, memorial, and science institutions in NYC.
National 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Pay your respects to the victims of the tragic September 11 attacks at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum, located at the site of the World Trade Center. Read the names of the attack victims inscribed at the open-air memorial's reflecting pools, and see photographs, artifacts, and informational exhibits about the effects and significance of 9/11 at the museum.
How to Visit: The memorial is free to enter, but the museum has an entry fee. Go on your own by booking admission in advance, or take a 9/11 Memorial tour with a guide who can share insight about that harrowing day.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Located on the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is dedicated to American maritime and military history. In addition to the Intrepid, a submarine, space shuttle, and supersonic plane are also on display.
How to Visit: The museum is on the Hudson River at Pier 86. Book admission in advance to avoid waiting in the ticket line.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Paintings by the world's most famous artists hang at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as sculptures, Egyptian antiquities, Islamic art, medieval armor, fashion, and much more. It's the largest art museum in the United States, home to works by El Greco, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Degas, Monet, Picasso, and Kandinsky.
How to Visit: The Met sits on 5th Avenue on the eastern side of Central Park. You can go on your own, of course, but with its size, it's helpful to book a tour, allowing you to relax while a guide makes sure you don't miss the highlights. For special access, opt for a VIP tour.
American Museum of Natural History
A planetarium, a library, and nearly 50 exhibition halls make up the American Museum of Natural History, known for its displays of fossils, animals, plants, human remains, and cultural artifacts. Its dinosaur exhibits are among the favorites.
How to Visit: The museum sits across from Central Park on the Upper West Side. Purchase a ticket in advance to go on your own, or book a tour with a guide to receive insider information about the museum's many treasures.
Museum of Modern Art
Considered one of the world's most influential organizations for contemporary art, New York's Museum of Modern Art, aka the MoMA, features paintings, drawings, sculptures, electronic works, architecture, and photography. Must-sees include pieces by Pollock, Picasso, and Warhol.
How to Visit: Book a skip-the-line ticket to this Midtown Manhattan and avoid the crowded queue, or opt for a city sightseeing pass that includes admission to several select attractions. For a VIP experience, an early morning tour allows you to visit before the public arrives.