A Guide: Manhattan’s Top Art Museums

Coming to New York City can be super overwhelming. From sightseeing to shopping to dining, tourists (and locals alike) struggle to select which museums they can fit into their schedule.

With Manhattan’s 32 fabulous museums (100 total in NYC) there’s essentially a place for everyone. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular art museums in Manhattan:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photo: Kate Glicksberg

This place has EVERYTHING. The Met, with its colossal columns and dramatic steps, is the fifth largest museum in the world. Visitors can find ancient sculptures from the near East to the latest fashion from the annual Met Gala. Therefore, dedicate a large portion of your day to this iconic 5th avenue beauty: traveling through time as you wander wing to wing.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 

Photo: David Heald

The Met’s next-door neighbor is a must. The Guggenheim revolutionized museum architecture; its cylindrical, unconventional, spiral design was invented as a modern way to experience the Modern art on display. The museum focuses on the movements of the late 19th century to the Contemporary art of today: such as Impressionism, Surrealism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalism.

The Museum of Modern Art

Photo: Iwan Baan

MoMA is known for being one of the world’s largest collectors of Modern Art. On any given day, you will see crowds gathered around Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Walking around the museum itself is an experience. The Contemporary architecture emphasizes sharp lines and glass that ties together its levels and galleries.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Photo: Ed Lederman

The Whitney is the only museum on this list that focuses strictly on American Art. Towering over the High Line, this museum is perfect for those who love the edgier side of art, with works by action painting and interactive installations prevalent throughout. Every two years is the Whitney Biennial which highlights America’s lesser-known contemporary artists.

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A Guide: Manhattan’s Top Art Museums