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10 Best NYC Museums Every Tourist Gotta Visit Once In 2023

New York City, affectionately known as The Big Apple, is one of those places where you could live your entire life and still not run out of places to see. Every street has a story, every person has a fashion statement, and every rundown building has a rich history ready to be unpacked. 

Speaking of history, New York City also has a wealth of museums that tourists and locals love exploring. Museums in NYC don’t just house priceless artifacts from centuries ago, though. Instead, there’s a museum for nearly everything. 

Trains, film, modern art, natural history — you name it, and this city probably has a museum dedicated to it. 

So, how can you choose which NYC museums you really need to visit? Luckily, we’ve done all the work for you. So, are you ready to read about the 10 best museums in New York City? Let’s dive in!

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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The Met, as it is nicknamed, was built in 1870 and consists of around 2 million works, including antiquities from across the world and art pieces from renowned Masters. 

The Museum’s primary location is a sprawling 2-million-square-foot in Central Park, which attracts around 7-8 million visitors annually. The second, smaller branch of the Met is The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park, located in Upper Manhattan.

This museum has millions of pieces divided among seventeen departments, which means it’s impossible to see everything in one go, but you can definitely try! 

Some of the spots you definitely shouldn’t miss are Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with a Straw Hat, Jacques Louis David’s The Death of Socrates, Rembrandt’s Aristotle with a Bust of Homer and self-portrait, along with the Greek and Roman Sculpture Court and The French rooms from the Hôtel de Varengeville.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is perhaps most well-known for being the venue of the annual fashion event, the Met Gala. However, that’s not the only notable event that happens in this iconic building!

The museum holds many special exhibitions throughout the year showcasing work that is on loan from other museums or artists. So, if you’re ever planning on visiting the Met, check their website beforehand to catch any cool exhibition you see listed!

TypeCost (USD)
Child (12 and under)FREE
Students (with ID, including international students)$17
Seniors (65 and over)$22
Prices may be subject to change

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Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States

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2. The Museum of Modern Art

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Midtown Manhattan houses another iconic NYC museum — the Museum of Modern Art, or MOMA. This museum was founded in 1929 but moved through many rented locations in the next ten years. 

The modern building on 53rd Street that serves as the current home for The Museum of Modern Art was opened to the public in 1939. Around 2-3 million people visit MOMA annually.

MOMA is one of the best representatives of contemporary and modern art in the world and holds 150,000 individual art pieces along with 4 million film stills and 22,000 films. 

You’ll be surprised to learn that some of the most iconic art pieces of our time, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lilies, are on display in MOMA! You’ll also see iconic paintings by Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, and Henri Matisse in the Museum of Modern Art.

TypeCost (USD)
Child (16 and under)FREE
Students (Full-time with ID, including international students)$14
Seniors (65 and over with ID)$18
Visitor with disability
(Admission is free for a caregiver accompanying a visitor with a disability)
Prices may be subject to change

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Address: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, United States

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3. National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

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The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is located at the World Trade Center site in New York City and serves as a memorial commemorating the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. 

The Museum’s main aim is to remember the victims, showcase evidence surrounding the attacks, and narrate the story of the attacks as authentically as possible.

The Memorial was opened to the public in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Museum opened in 2014 and contains around 40,000 images, 14,000 original pieces from the attack sites, and oral recordings and images from the original attacks. 

The Museum receives around 3 million visitors every year, while the outdoor memorial sees up to 6 million visitors annually.

Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, United States

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4. The Morgan Library and Museum

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The Morgan Library and Museum was once the private library of financier J.P. Morgan and housed hundreds of manuscripts, books, drawings, documents and prints from his personal collection. Upon his death, the library was opened to the public as per J.P. Morgan’s will. 

The building, in itself, is an architectural wonder because it is made up of many different parts designed by many popular architects from different periods. 

The Morgan Libary and Museum is one of those places in NYC that are a history buff’s dream. Concept drawings from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, an autographed copy of Mozart’s Haffner Symphony in D Major, and original letters written by explorer Andrea Corsali in 1516 are some of the wonders you can expect to see there.

The Morgan’s collection also boasts original manuscripts and documents by the likes of Charles Dickens, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Charlotte Bronte, and Henry David Thoreau, along with art pieces by Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Ruskin.

TypeCost (USD)
Free Fridays (5PM – 7PM every Friday)FREE (must reserved one week in advance)
Children (12 and under + must be accompanied by an adult)FREE
Students (with current ID)$13
Seniors (65 and older)$14
Prices may be subject to change

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Address: 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016, United States

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5. American Museum of Natural History

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Budding biologists need to pay attention to this one because the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park boasts 34 million specimens from nature collected from all over the world. These exhibits include plants, animals, human remains, fossils, meteorites, and anything else you could possibly think of. 

If you want a primer on Earth’s natural history and how we came to be where we are, there’s no better place to go than AMNH. 

The sprawling museum is spread over 26 buildings, which means you can’t see it all in a day. Around 5-6 million people visit the American Museum of Natural History every year, so you know it’s not an experience you want to miss out on.

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Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, United States

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6. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, or Guggenheim for short, is an art museum located on the Upper East Side. This museum simply needs to be on your bucket list because its building has one of the most spectacular architectural designs in recent memory!

Guggenheim established a foundation to showcase his heart in 1937, but the iconic building that is associated with this museum wasn’t completed until 1959.

The museum focuses on modernist, expressionist, and surrealist art and houses collections from iconic artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Édouard Manet, Alexander Archipenko, and many others. 

The museum houses 8,000 pieces of priceless art and sees around 1-2 million visitors annually.

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Address: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128, United States

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7. Whitney Museum of American Art

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The Meatpacking district also has its fair share of places to see. However, one that particularly appeals to art lovers is the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

The Whitney primarily focuses on American art and was established in 1929. Its vast collection isn’t just limited to paintings, though. It also houses photographs, sculptures, prints, and installation art by hundreds of artists.

Some of the most notable art pieces in the Whitney Museum of American Art come from Andy Warhol, Edmund Archer, Sonia Gordon Brown, Terence Koh, Morgan Russell, and many others. 

One of the things the Whitney is known for is the Whitney Biennial, which showcases art from up-and-coming American artists. It is one of the biggest events in the art world and has been credited as the institution that helped artists like Jackson Pollock gain prominence!

Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, United States

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8. New York Transit Museum

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The New York Transit Museum is very fascinating for people who love the public transport system of NYC because it houses artifacts related to the NYC bus, subway, and railway systems.

True to its name, the NYC Transit Museum is located in a decommissioned Subway station in Brooklyn. The museum was initially supposed to be a temporary exhibit, but it became such a popular spot for New Yorkers to satisfy their nostalgia that it became a permanent addition to the NYC museum scene.

Around half a million people visit the New York Transit Museum every year.

Fully functional but decommissioned subway cars, trains, and buses are on display in this museum, along with memorabilia from the original NYC subway stations that laid the foundation for The Big Apple’s busy public transport circuit. Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it?

TypeCost (USD)
Child (under 2)FREE
Seniors (62 and older)$5
Prices may be subject to change

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Address: 99 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, United States

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9. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

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The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a must-see for people interested in the history of the US military and navy. It is located in Hell’s Kitchen and opened to the public in 1982. 

The exhibits include airplane carriers, warning aircrafts, submarines, and fighter jets that played pivotal roles in major wars such as World War II, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and the Gulf War.

This museum sees up to 600,000 visitors annually and hosts numerous exhibits detailing the achievements of the US army and navy. 

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Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, United States

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10. Museum of Chinese in America

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There are roughly 3.8 million Chinese Americans worldwide, so it makes sense that a museum in NYC would be dedicated to this diaspora. The Museum of Chinese in America details the culture and history of Chinese Americans in the US and offers refreshing insight into their heritage, practices, and way of living. 

This museum is located in Chinatown and boasts around 85,000 Chinese American documents, artifacts, and artworks. 

Around 50,000 visitors explore the exhibits in the Museum of Chinese in America, and it should also be on your NYC museum list!

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Address: 215 Centre St, New York, NY 10013, United States

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New York City is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and professions, which means you’ll never run out of things to do in this magical city.

When you get done exploring the museums on this list and begin looking for other exciting places to see in NYC, great restaurants in Brooklyn, or anything else about The Big Apple, don’t forget to visit our website!