Add it all up and there are over 100 museums, cultural sites, and historic houses within the five boroughs of New York City catering to every interest. While a few are questionable commercial enterprises (especially those located in Times Square), the vast majority are well-run non-profits that provide an informative yet entertaining experience for a relatively small sum (and that sum can be even smaller if you use the right discounts.)
Even to list only our favorites would be overwhelming – so we have broken down New York art museums the same way that New Yorkers think about them:
- Museum Mile: Eight of the city’s most popular choices including the Metropolitan Museum of Art are located on 5th Avenue just east of Central Park: aka Museum Mile.
- Manhattan Elsewhere: Go here for information on the Museum of Modern Art (The MOMA), the Cloisters, and the Asia Society among others.
- Outer Boroughs: Most tourists never leave Manhattan, which is a shame, because the outer boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island have a variety of fine museums that charge considerably less admission than those in Midtown.
Free Days: Most New York art museums have free days; just check the listings and prepare for long lines. Note: The Hispanic Society of America Museum is always free.
Suggested Donation: Because they were built on donated city land, the Brooklyn Museum, El Museo Del Barrio, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (including the Cloisters), MOMA PS1, Museum of the City of New York, and the Queens Museum of Art have “suggested” admissions. If your budget is really tight, then just give them a dollar.
Senior/Student: Check the listings for student or senior discounts – both of which require ID.
Museum Membership: If you plan to visit a particular museum at least three times a year – or you just plain love the place – consider purchasing a membership. Besides free admission, most memberships including a host of other privileges and discounts. You will find membership details in each listing.
Reciprocal Museum Membership: Are you a member of your hometown museum? If so, contact their membership office or check their website for reciprocal privileges at New York museums.
New York City Multi-Museum Discount Cards
City Pass: ($79 adult, $59 child – 9 days): Includes admission to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim, as well as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island and American Museum of National History
Explorer Pass: ($70-$190 adult, $49-$115 child – 30 days): Rate is based on number of attractions (3-10). Includes Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and additional attractions including the Empire State Building, National 9/11 Memorial, and a “Sex in the City Tour”
New York Pass: ($80-$175 adult, $55-$135 child – 1-7days): Rate is based on number of consecutive days. Includes Brooklyn Museum, El Museo del Barrio, Guggenheim Museum, Hispanic Society of America, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the City of New York, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Queens Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Whitney Museum of American Art as well as dozens of other attractions.
Hint: Before purchasing any of these passes, carefully lay out each day and each museum/attraction that you plan to visit. Add up the admissions (including any discounts you already receive) to check if any of the above cards really work for you. Also remember to schedule no more than two museum visits a day and no more than three consecutive days of solid sightseeing – or you are going to be overwhelmed.