Love Rules neon sign at entrance of Brooklyn Museum
· · ·

15 INCREDIBLE & Best Museums in NYC to Visit (By a Local)

Looking for the best museums in NYC to add to your visit? With nearly 100 museums in New York City, choosing which ones to see can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why we put this guide together for the coolest museums in NYC to help you pick!

New York City is home to several of the most famous museums in the country. New York is known for having so many museums, choosing which will be your next to visit can be difficult below are some of the best museums in NYC to check out plus what they are known for and other useful information you need to know before your visit! 

Disclaimer: This article to the top museums in NYC includes affiliate links meaning we earn a small commission when readers purchase tickets through our site at no extra cost to you! 

Note, many NYC museums are closed on Mondays and/or Tuesdays, be sure to check ahead before planning your visit! It’s always best to secure tickets in advance (which we provide links for below) to secure your visits to some of the most famous museums in New York.

Be sure to also check out our guide to free museums in NYC to help save some money on your trip!

Coolest Museums in NYC


New Museum 

235 Bowery, Manhattan

Founded in 1977, the New Museum opened its Bowery Lower East Side Manhattan location in 2007, boasting a seven-story building that looks like a stack of white building blocks. Specializing in modern and contemporary art, the New Museum is notorious for being the birthplace for showcasing rising talented artists and one of the coolest museums in NYC for contemporary art lovers.

This NYC museum’s founder, Marica Tucker, wanted the museum to have a fresh collection constantly vowing to buy and sell pieces of the collection every 10 years so there was always something ‘new,’ hence the name.

$18 General Admission, Open Tuesday-Sunday most weeks, Reserve Tickets Online

Tenement Museum 

103 Orchard Street, Manhattan

Located in the Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum is one of the best museums in NYC for history lovers. This NYC museum transports you to your ancestor’s earliest days arriving in America.

Guided tours provide biographical retellings of what it was like to live in the working-class tenement buildings. Most interesting is their walking tour which offers an overview of the built landscape of the lower east side.

$30 Building and Walking Tour, Reserve Tickets Online

Brooklyn Museum

inside the Brooklyn Museum

200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

A must-visit in NYC, the Brooklyn Museum is considered by many to be one of the best museums in NYC. Sitting just outside of Prospect Park, the magnificent circa 1897 Beaux-Arts building the museum is housed in offers endless photo opportunities and housing a collection of over 1.5 million pieces of art.

The Brooklyn Museum has become known for its contemporary art exhibits, the museum offers every art fan something and is known for being the go-to for seeing works by Dennis Hopper as well as its expansive collections of Egyptian and African Art not to mention their rotating temporary exhibits.

$16 General Admission (special exhibits require additional ticket purchases), closed Mondays & Tuesdays, Reserve Tickets Online

Be sure to check out more of the best museums in Brooklyn and the best independent art galleries in Brooklyn too!

The Morgan Library & Museum 


225 Madison Avenue, Manhattan

Looking for one of the coolest museums in NYC? Go no further than the heart of Manhattan in Murray Hill the Morgan Library & Museum.

Step inside and transport yourself to another time. You’ll feel as if you’ll bump into J.P. Morgan himself in the library he built to house his private collection of rare books and manuscripts. Home to some of the rarest texts in the world, the museum boasts contemporary exhibit space for rotating exhibitions as well along with one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

$22 Adult Admission, Wednesday to Sunday 10:30 am to 5:00 pm, Reserve Your Tickets

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 

11 W 53rd Street, Manhattan

The mecca of the modern art world, this midtown Manhattan Museum is one of the top museums in NYC. Since its opening in 1929 MoMA has changed the world of modern and contemporary art being one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world.

From Paul Claude Monet, Cézanne, Andy Warhol, and Picasso – to Marc Chagall and Salvador Dalí, all the great modern artists live at MoMA. Best of all? Admission is FREE on Friday evenings

Tickets are free on Friday evenings, Open daily from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, Reserve Tickets Online or Purchase a Skip the Line Ticket so you don’t have to wait in any lines.

Poster House 

119 W 23rd Street, Manhattan

Poster House Museum is one of the newest and coolest museums in NYC and is the first museum in the country dedicated exclusively to posters.

View the visual and cultural impact posters have had throughout the centuries from Alphonse Mucha’s whimsical art nouveau advertisements to the psychedelic designs of the 1960s, and contemporary avant-garde from throughout the world – Poster House reveals a timeline of artistic expression through advertising and public art.

$12 Adult Admission, Open Thursday to Sunday 10 am to 6 PM, Buy Tickets Online

9/11 Tribute Museum

World Trade Center view from outside in NYC

92 Greenwich Street, Manhattan

Just around the corner from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the 9/11 Tribute Museum is dedicated to the personal narratives of the families that lost loved ones due to the September 11th attacks in 2001.

Guided tours are given daily by survivors, rescue, and recovery workers who volunteer their time to offer their perspective of the historic events and aftermath of 9/11. 

$17 Adult Admission, Open daily 10 am – 6 pm, Reserve Your Skip the Line Tickets

The Frick Collection

1 E 70th Street, Manhattan

Many museum enthusiasts say the Frick Collection is one of the best museums in New York and one of the most famous museums in NYC for its collection of paintings by Old Masters.

Endowed and housed in the home of Gilded Age industrialist Henry Clay Frick, the museum is home to an impressive collection of paintings by the old masters including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Whistler, and Renoir to name a few.

The Frick offers a scaled-down setting unique in comparison to some of the larger museums in NYC.

$22 Adult Admission, Open Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, Reserve tickets online

Metropolitan Museum of Art

An egyptian woman statue inside the Met in New York

1000 5th Ave, Manhattan

One of the most famous museums in New York and the world, the Met short for Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is the largest art museum in the country with a permanent collection of over 2 million pieces of artwork not to mention its also one of the largest art galleries in the world.

You will need a full day for this mammoth of all thing’s art, history, and architecture. From ancient artifacts to contemporary works by international artists, the Met has something for everyone spanning over 6,000 years of history with its collections.

While you’re here don’t miss the Met Rooftop for sweeping views of Central Park and afterward, you can explore the best hidden spots in Central Park!

$25 Adult Admission, Open Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm, Reserve Your Skip the Line Tickets Online, or Book a Private Guided Tour for a more intimate, educational experience.

The Met Cloisters

unicorn tapestries at the Met Cloisters in Washington Heights NYC

99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Manhattan

The Met Cloisters in Washington Heights is a magical place and one of the coolest museums in NYC. Once you pass into the museum under their stone arches, you are transported entirely to another place and another time.

The Cloisters, as they’re sometimes called, is home to some of the world’s most precious antiquities. Fifteenth-century tapestries decorate the interior, hanging just as they did in the days of dynasties. The gardens reimagined as if out of French storybooks and is incredibly romantic. 

While visiting this under-the-radar to tourists museum in NYC, be sure to explore all three cloister gardens, Cuxa, Bonnefont, and Trie.

If you’re a resident of Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York you qualify for the pay as you wish tickets meaning you can pay less or enter this museum for free with a valid ID.

$25 Adult Admission, Open Thursday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm, Reserve Tickets Online

Whitney Museum of American Art 

Whitney Museum of American Art Museum in NYC

99 Gansevoort Street, Manhattan

Known to many as simply the Whitney, this is one of the best museums in NYC and boasts works by all the greatest American artists from the 20th and 21st centuries.

See works by Edward Hopper, Robert Henri, Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Warhol, and Theodore Robinson. The museum is known for hosting special events and rotating exhibits making it one of the top museums in NYC.

Unlike other famous museums in NYC, the Whitney Museum focuses solely on American artists including works from the 20th century and contemporary art. They do a huge emphasis on featuring works from artists that are still living too.

$22 Adult Admission, Open Thursday to Sunday 10:30 am to 6 pm, Reserve Tickets Online

New York Historical Society 

170 Central Park West, Manhattan

One of the top museums in NYC to visit is the city’s oldest museum. Founded in 1804 the New York Historical Society museum’s collection is comprised of countless historical artifacts, manuscripts, works of art, and documents detailing the history of New York and the United States.

The museum’s granite Roman Eclectic style building is located across from Central Park West and is positioned in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city.

$22 Adults, Open Friday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm, Buy Tickets Online 

Museum of the Moving Image 

36-01 35th Avenue, Queens

One of the coolest museums in NYC is located in the borough of Queens! The Museum of the Moving Image offers unique glimpses into the history and art of the media industry, and the only one of its kind in the United States.

The abstract re-designed interior reopened in 2011 and boasts a 1,700 square foot Screening Amphitheater. Dive into how films are made and see some of the most iconic objects and costumes featured throughout film history.

This is one of the best museums in New York for any cinephiles and fans of the movie industry and its history.

$15 Adult Admission, Open Friday to Sunday 12 pm – 6 pm, Buy Tickets Online

American Folk Art Museum 

2 Lincoln Square, Manhattan

The first museum in the country dedicated to displaying self-taught artists, known as folk artists.

The American Folk Art Museum is one of the top museums in NYC for viewing everything from handmade 18th-century artifacts to contemporary works by self-taught artists with over 8,000 pieces of works in their collection.

Admission is Free, Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 am to 6 pm

American Museum of Natural History 


200 Central Park West, Manhattan

The American Museum of Natural History is one of the best museums in New York and one of the most famous. Housing 45 permanent exhibition halls, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the Hayden Planetarium the museum is a must-see for anyone interested in scientific and natural history.

This is one of the coolest museums in NYC for the whole family too, there is something here to entertain anyone any age, but this is by far one of the most fun places for kids in NYC too. As already mentioned, this museum is massive. The collections include over 34 million specimens of rocks, minerals, human remains, cultural artifacts, plants, animals, fossils, and more.

A whole trip could be made exploring this museum, so this is one of those that’s perfect to visit over and over again.

If you’re a resident of Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York you qualify for the pay as you wish tickets meaning you can pay less or enter this museum for free with a valid ID.

$23 Adult Admission, Open Wednesday to Sunday 10 am to 5:30 pm, Reserve Tickets Online

Extra Top Museums in NYC to Visit

Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan NYC

Solomon R. Guggenheim

One of the most famous museums in New York City this Upper East Side Museum in Manhattan holds a massive collection of early Modern, Impressionist, and contemporary artworks housed in the state of the art building designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the building itself is a marvel and piece of art. Book Your Tickets in Advance.

Neue Galerie New York

Located on Madison Avenue in a magnificent Beaux-Arts style building, the Neue Galerie is dedicated to German and Austrian Art and holds pieces from famous artists such as Gustav Klimt and Ernst Ludwig Kerchner. Reserve Your Tickets Online in Advance.

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

The only museum in the country dedicated to the history of design. Located in the former Andrew Carnegie Mansion this cool museum in NYC houses objects used by notable and famous figures such as Abraham Lincoln’s chair and a Rolls Royce once owned by the Beatles.  Reserve Your Tickets Online in Advance.

Merchant’s House Museum

Walk into the Merchant’s House Museum in Greenwich Village and be transported to the nineteenth century. The only house in NYC that boasts a perfectly preserved historical interior and exterior and is said to be the most haunted house in Manhattan and most haunted place in NYC! Spooky! See how to visit here.

Museum of Sex

Museum visitors must be 18 or older to enter. Also known as MoSex, the Museum of Sex is one of the coolest museums in NYC. Offering everything from the earliest artifacts to contemporary reflections on the meaning of sex and sexuality, MoSex offers a museum experience unlike any other. Get Your Tickets Here.

Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum

Located floating on the Hudson River on the historic USS Interpid aircraft carrier that served in the Vietnam War and World War II as well as a recovery vessel for the Mercury and Gemini Space missions. This top museum in New York features restored military aircraft and ships. Another highlight to this museum is the Space Shuttle Enterprise! Book Your Tickets in Advance.

Museum of Ice Cream

One of the coolest museums in NYC for fun photography and kids is the Museum of Ice Cream! With locations all over the country, their NYC location is one of the most popular ‘selfie museums’ with interactive exhibits that will leave you wanting a sweet treat! Book Your Tickets in Advance.

NYC Attraction Passes

If you want to enjoy multiple NYC museums consider getting an attraction pass that you pay a price upfront to get into attractions all over the city for free. By purchasing an attraction pass you can save anywhere from 35-45% on your attraction passes and saving you hundreds of dollars on your visit!

CityPASS offers a 3 attraction pass or a 6 attraction pass with over 12 city attractions to choose from including popular observatories like the Empire State Building, The Edge, Top of the Rock, 9/11 Memorial & Museum, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island, the Guggenheim, and more!

Another great option is the New York Pass which you can purchase anywhere from a 1 Day Pass to a 10 Day Pass that gets you into over 100 attractions. Once you purchase your New York Pass you download the Go City app and use that to get up to 45% savings on popular attractions as well as a few hidden gem attractions ranging from the Empire State Building to the Museum of Ice Cream and many of the NYC experiences mentioned in this guide!

See our full breakdown of the New York Pass and our breakdown of the New York CityPASS to see if it’s worth it for your visit to save hundreds of dollars on multiple attractions!


Did we miss one of your picks for best museums in NYC? Let us know in the comments below! If you found this guide to the coolest museums in New York helpful consider bookmarking for later or share the love below on Pinterest!


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.