museums in New York

Seven museums to visit in New York

New York is the world’s biggest museum centre. A visit to one of the city’s many museums is a regular weekend ritual for its inhabitants, and the attractive museum collections and exhibitions of world famous artworks are just as fascinating for tourists from all parts of the globe. New York’s museums scene includes the history of civilization, one of the world’s best natural history museums, antiquity, modern art, and the avant-garde. In short, there is something for everyone. Most must-see museums are located along the Museum Mile, although straying from this route may also bring many a pleasant surprise. Since seeing all its museums during one visit to New York is an impossible mission, these seven museums are illustrative of the metropolis’ cultural scene and are a good starting point in getting to know the modern museum capital of the world.

MoMA PS1 – a thought-provoking and avant-garde approach to art

One of the most popular museums in New York is located in Long Island, in the borough of Queens. Founded in 1971 as a non-profit art centre, it has since been exhibiting the works of the world’s most renowned alternative artists and often the work of unaffirmed artists involved in social and political activism. MoMA PS1 is a true temple of conceptual art, while also organizing performances, music events, and architectural exhibitions. This unique museum is open year round, and its exhibitions and performances are not limited solely to the museum building. Events organized by MoMA PS1 often take place near the museum, sometimes on the streets of New York, with visitors and artists embarking on an adventure that takes them through the city that never sleeps.

The Museum of Modern Art – the most influential museum of modern art in the world

Museums in New York

The Museum of Modern Art and its affiliate, MoMA PS1, work in close cooperation and have become the most-visited museums of modern art in the world. The museum is located in Manhattan and its collection includes works of the most renowned artists in architecture, design, painting, drawings, photography, sculpture, film, and in recent years, artists using electronic media to express their creativity. In 1929, the newly founded museum opened with an exhibition of works by contemporary artists Cézanne, Van Gogh, and Gauguin. Every year the museum attracts over a million visitors, which makes it the most influential museum of modern art in the world. In addition to works of art, the museum’s 350,000 exhibits include original books, monographs, and documents, preserving the history of art from oblivion.

New Museum – controversial exhibitions and turbulent history

The New Museum in New York is reserved for contemporary artists who continue to create. Originally, its concept was based on the assumption that a museum does not have to have a permanent place in order to attract visitors. Unfortunately, this resulted in a difficult start for the New Museum, frequent changes of location, and near bankruptcy. In recent years, however, it has become an iconic place for lovers of modern and avant-garde art, attracting the public with controversial exhibitions, including one of the most popular, the “Bad” Painting exhibition in 1978. The museum is unique for its mode of displaying works, including the particularly innovative Window Series, with artwork exhibited in the windows of the museum’s premises at the time. In 2003, the New Museum moved into its unconventionally designed permanent home in Bowery Street. Museumgoers who enjoy contemporary artistic tendencies or like to see classic works presented through new media will have a completely novel experience at the New Museum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – a giant guardian of the culture of civilizations

Museums in New York

The Met is the largest museum in the United States. Statistically, all the other museums in New York combined have fewer visitors than walk through the doors of the Met in a year. This is hardly surprising when you know that this iconic institution has over 17 million exhibits. Tourists return to this museum several times as it is impossible to see everything it has to offer in a single visit. The Met’s art museum is home to the most important paintings, sculptures and works of applied art from around the globe, and the most popular exhibitions are those of the works of European, American, and Mediterranean artists. The permanent collection includes works of Islamic, Byzantine, antique, and Asian art, so that a walk around the museum is like an excursion to all the corners of the earth and a view of the history of culture, from the first civilizations to modern times. Its rich collection has made the Met the world’s third most visited museum for decades. In addition to the permanent exhibition, in holiday seasons the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents its visitors with true treats for art lovers, so Christmas is a time most often reserved for families and elegant gala events.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum – a jewel dedicated to applied art

This museum stands on the Upper East Side's Museum Mile in Manhattan. Its collection spans over 240 years of design and applied art from around the world. The museum is located in a classic Georgian style villa, the most consistently popular style in American architecture. The visitor’s favourite exhibitions are those showing works of architecture, exterior design, sculptures, art decoration, tableware, costumes, furniture and artwork made of wood and metal. In addition to that, the Smithsonian Design Museum has original works on paper made by the famous American artist, Frederic Edwin Church, Abraham Lincoln’s chair, and the car used by the Beatles. The Cooper Hewitt Museum also attracts visitors with its impressive collection of jewellery and theme exhibitions focused on specific elements of applied art and design from all continents.

National Museum of the American Indian – an opportunity to learn about the history of the New Continent

The National Museum of the American Indian is located in Lower Manhattan, at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. The building itself is fascinating, with an elaborately decorated exterior, wooden sculptures and imposing columns, with a marble and mural-dominated interior. This unique museum should be the starting point on the Museum Mile for visitors interested in learning about the rich American history and traditions of the Native Americans. The National Museum of the American Indian owns over 800,000 artefacts, including those belonging to Indian tribes of Central and Latin America, Alaska and Canada. The museum collection includes artwork, traditional costumes, tools and weapons, musical instruments, and ritual relics. Particularly interesting are exhibits showing personal items of Indian chiefs, Sitting Bull and Geronimo, including scalps of defeated enemies. The National Museum of the American Indian also has the largest collection of picturesque wigs worn by the most prominent tribe members. The museum building is the site of traditional concerts of Native American music, events dedicated to the life and traditions of Indians, and has a restaurant serving traditional Native American dishes and beverages.

The American Museum of Natural History – fun for the whole family

Museums in New York

The American Museum of Natural History is the largest natural history museum in the world, and often the most visited. It is located in Theodor Roosevelt Park, across the road from Central Park, so visitors can make a detour while taking in the natural beauty of New York. The museum is a complex of 28 buildings, home to 48 permanent exhibitions that follow the evolution of flora and fauna worldwide. Besides being a tourist attraction and the favourite museum of American families, the Natural History Museum is also the largest research centre employing scientists from around the world. The most popular exhibits are those of the bones of dinosaurs and reptiles that roamed the earth millions of years ago. The Natural Museum also organizes the Darwin Exhibition every year, an interactive exhibition of human evolution.

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