So you’ve seen the Statue of Liberty, wandered Central Park, taken a selfie in Times Square and travelled to the Top of the Rock. With all that New York sightseeing under your belt, you might just be wondering if there’s any other major New York attractions left to check out.
You’ll be pleased to discover then, that the Big Apple isn’t short on world-class museums. From modern day masterpieces at Midtown’s MoMA to Tribeca’s tiniest exhibition space, there’s a New York museum to suit the fussiest of culture-vultures. That means the only hard part is choosing which one to explore first – good luck!
Metropolitan Museum of Art
No trip to the Big Apple is complete without a visit to one of New York’s top attractions: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fondly referred to as the MET. Much like the Louvre in Paris and the Tate in London, the MET is an icon of the city, with a mind-boggling art collection said to surpass two million objects spanning 5,000 years of history. Founded in 1870 and located in Central Park, highlights of the MET include an Egyptian temple dating back to 10BC, the largest display of Asian art in the Western world and masterpieces by the likes of Monet, Rembrandt and Pollock. Just don’t expect to breeze through the MET in one day – spread across 13 acres, this is one museum that requires a return visit.
It’s often said that good things come in small packages, and that couldn’t be truer of Mmuseumm – a quirky Tribeca gallery housed entirely in a former freight elevator. It’s so small that if you’re over six-foot in height you’ll need to duck upon arrival, and only three people at a time are allowed to enter. With a selection of items that range from absolute junk to random objects of cultural significance, Mmuseumm offers a strange and intriguing insight into the everyday objects of our modern world. Past exhibitions have featured an Iranian Happy Meal, the shoe thrown at George W Bush in 2008 and a scattering of cornflakes, and the collections are rotated annually.
American Museum of Natural History
Considered a cultural institution, New York’s renowned American Museum of Natural History showcases an incredible world of ancient beasts, lost tribes and deep-sea creatures. Enormous rooms are filled to the brim with taxidermied animals in the Biodiversity and Environmental Halls, while human evolution is explored via significant artefacts in the Human Origins Halls. But there’s no competing with the museum’s star attractions: a 94-foot long model of a blue whale and a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton. No matter how old you are, it’s near impossible not to be wowed by these incredible feats of nature.
Obsessed with watching old reruns of Get Smart? Fancy yourself a bit of a code cracking specialist? Maybe you just love secrets, a clever disguise and a sneaky hidden camera or two. If this sounds like you, then you shouldn’t let New York’s newest museum slip under the radar. More of an all-immersive, interactive experience than a traditional museum, Spyscape is divided into seven galleries that specialise in different spy-related areas. From cyber warfare to encryption, deception to surveillance, there’s a division to suit the intelligence officer in us all. Spyscape is even equipped with its own special ops laser tunnel, so you can finally live out all of your Mission Impossible fantasies.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
You may already know the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – often referred to as simply the Guggenheim – more for its striking Frank Lloyd Wright design rather than its art collection. Come to this architectural icon to see the museum’s iconic spiral ramp, domed skylight or void-like spaces, but linger a little bit longer to walk through some of the displays; the broader collection (shared with the sister museum in Bilbao, Spain) is actually the combination of several, formerly private art collections from the likes of Peggy Guggenheim, Justin K. Thannhauser and, of course, Solomon R. Guggenheim.
Museum of the American Gangster
Could there be a more classically New York experience than a visit to the Museum of the American Gangster? Long the setting of organised crime and shady underworld figures, it’s only fitting the location of this niche museum is a former speakeasy bar. Overflowing with newspaper clippings, photographs, old Prohibition bottles, bullet shells and guns, the museum offers a much darker insight into the world of mobsters than you may be expecting, and touches on the lives of everyone from Al Capone and John Dillinger, to the infamous Bonnie and Clyde. And make sure you join one of the museum’s thrice-daily tours, which reveal even more juicy details from an era when gangsters ruled New York.
Museum of Modern Art
Undoubtedly the coolest museum in New York City, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) boasts one of the world’s most impressive and internationally-renowned collections of contemporary art. Tucked away on a busy Manhattan street, a roll call of featured MoMA artists reads like a who’s who of the most influential creative minds of the past 100 years: Picasso, Van Gogh, Dali, Warhol and Lichtenstein, to name just a few. Expect crowds, as it’s one of the most popular things to do in NYC, but we promise the moment you first spot Van Gogh’s Starry Night, or walk through the incredible Rain Room, you’ll forget all about surrounding crush of people.
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Feature image: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit: Robert Bye on Unsplash