When you’re living the commuter lifestyle in a place like New York City, the world (or at least your city) is your oyster. Looking for a new part of The Big Apple to explore? Why not dig into NYC’s artistic side? Next time you have a free day, throw on your Closca Helmet, hop on your bike, and check out some of the art museums in NYC. We’ve listed our favorite NYC art museums below, just to get you started.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Spanning 13 acres of Central Park property, The Metropolitan Museum of Art—or “The Met,” as art lovers call it—is one of the largest museums, art or otherwise, in the world. Home to 5,000+ years of art from across the globe, this museum has everything from last year’s runway fashions to royal mummies, an actual Egyptian temple from 10 B.C. (the Temple of Dendur, the only complete Egyptian temple in the Western Hemisphere!), and a 25-foot-tall Chinese wall mural. Want to relax? Head to the two-story, indoor sculpture garden; it’s filled with Roman and Greek sculptures and Mediterranean objects, and even has a fountain where you can sit and take it all in.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Known for housing some of the world’s most popular art from the 18th century to today, including coveted works like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA NY) is not just one of the most popular art museums in NYC—it’s one of the top in the world. The goal of the museum is simple: promote the understanding of modern art and help expand viewers’ minds about what constitutes art in the first place. After perusing exhibitions like “Collection Galleries 1880s-1950s” and “Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959-1989,” don’t forget to stop by the MoMA Design Store! There, you can buy forward-thinking keepsakes to remind you of MoMA’s innovation: like handmade crafts, unlikely furniture pieces, avant-garde tech tools, and even a Closca Helmet.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Sitting in Lower Manhattan's Meatpacking District, right at the foot of the Highline, the Whitney Museum of American Art is best known for its broad collection of 20th-century and contemporary American art. Built by an Italian architect, Renzo Piano, this eight-story building complements its art with restaurants and insane views of the Hudson River, Highline and the iconic Manhattan skyline. Spanning 63,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, it is home to nearly 15,000 artworks by 2,000 artists; including names like Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Louise Nevelson and even Georgia O’Keeffe. These names aside, “the Whitney’s” most popular must-see is The Whitney Biennial, an exhibition of contemporary American art, typically by younger, newer artists.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
While the Guggenheim’s collection of modern art is not to be missed, what stands out most about this museum is its architectural shape. Designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright, the building’s concrete “ziggernaut” shape, or a Babylonian step pyramid, makes use of Wright’s love of geometric shapes. A physical metaphor for how art works, because of its shape, the museum presents art in a flowing, winding spiral (one that displays every piece at a different angle) with no walls there to form barriers between any artists, ideas or time periods. There’s nothing about this museum that doesn’t impress. Need proof? Just look up—you’ll find Maurizio Cattelan sculptures hanging from the ceiling.
New Museum of Contemporary Art
Originally opened in 1977, The New Museum, today, sits in a seven-story building made up of three main gallery levels, a theater, a café, and even rooftop terraces. With a particular focus on emerging, often under-recognized artists, the shape of the building (which looks like a stack of boxes rising up over the Bowery) is as strangely-alluring as the art hanging on its walls. Interestingly enough, this museum was started by Marcia Tucker, who had left her position as Curator of Painting at “the Whitney” to start an art museum that exhibited less traditional art that you wouldn’t find in other museums. In addition to the art on its walls, the New Museum of Contemporary Art has a Media Lounge for digital art, video installations and sound works, and hosts readings, presentations, digital exhibitions and more.