Best international societies and museums

Where to go if you're looking for country- or continent-specific art and artifacts.

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  • IAAC trophies at the American Irish Historical Society

  • The American Irish Historical Society

  • The Americas Society

  • Asia Store at the Asia Society

  • Neue Galerie; Photograph by Hulya Kolabas

  • Austrian decorative arts gallery of the Neue Galerie; Photograph by Hulya...

  • Onassis Cultural Center

  • Onassis Cultural Center

  • Scandinavian House

  • Smorgas Chef cafe at Scandinavian House

  • The Ukrainian Museum

  • The Ukrainian Museum

IAAC trophies at the American Irish Historical Society

American Irish Historical Society
Located directly across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this is your go-to resource for all things Irish in America, including cultural exhibitions, lectures, art and musical performances.

Americas Society and the Council of the Americas
The Americas Society strives to connect North, South and Central America by inviting political, social and cultural big wigs for panel discussions, and hosting boundary-defying exhibitions.

Asia Society and Museum
The Asia Society’s striking galleries host major exhibitions of art culled from dozens of countries and time periods—from ancient India and medieval Persia to contemporary Japan—and assembled from public and private collections, including the permanent Mr and Mrs John D Rockefeller III collection of Asian art. A spacious, atrium-like caf, with a pan-Asian menu, and a beautifully stocked gift shop make the society a one-stop destination for anyone who has an interest in Asian art and culture.

China Institute
Consisting of just two small galleries, the China Institute is somewhat overshadowed by the nearby Asia Society. But its rotating exhibitions, including works by female Chinese artists and selections from the Beijing Palace Museum, are compelling. The institute offers lectures and courses on myriad subjects such as calligraphy, Confucius and cooking.

Dia at the Hispanic Society of America
The Hispanic Society has the largest assemblage of Spanish art and manuscripts outside Spain. Look for two portraits by Goya and the lobby’s bas-relief of Don Quixote. The collection is dominated by religious artifacts, including 16th-century tombs from the monastery of San Francisco in Cullar, Spain. Also on display are decorative art objects and thousands of black-and-white photographs that document life in Spain and Latin America from the mid-19th century to the present.

Goethe-Institut New York
The Goethe-Institut New York is a branch of the international German cultural organization founded in 1951. Housed in a landmark Fifth Avenue mansion across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the institute regularly mounts shows featuring German-born contemporary artists, and presents concerts, lectures and film screenings. A selection of German-language books, videos and periodicals are also available to peruse in the library.

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
In 1947 Jacques Marchais opened to the public two stone buildings on a Staten Island hillside, which house her collection of Tibetan art. This museum is the only Himalayan-temple-style building in the United States and is surrounded by meditation gardens. This tiny hillside museum contains a striking Buddhist altar and the largest collection of Tibetan art in the West, including religious objects, bronzes and paintings.

Japan Society
In addition to a permanent gallery that includes Samurai swords, Buddhist calligraphy and contemporary photography, this internationally renowned non-profit offers world-class exhibitions of Japanese work, cultural performances, foreign film screenings and Q&As with Japanese directors, and oodles of lectures.

The Korea Society Gallery
Broaden your knowledge of Korean culture (it’s not all Kim Jong-il jokes) through the Korea Society’s various gallery talks, exhibitions, dance performances, film screenings and more.

Museum for African Art
No other museum in New York digs into African arts and culture quite like MAA, founded in 1984. Dynamic public programming includes workshops, dance performances, children’s fests and more, but we’re especially smitten with current exhibits such as “Perspectives: Women, Art and Islam” and “Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria.”

Museum of Chinese in America
MOCA’s former space on Mulberry Street closed last year, making way for this brand-new space on the edge of Chinatown. Designed by Vietnam Veterans Memorial architect Maya Lin, the building incorporates organic elements such as bronze walls, reclaimed wood floors and a giant skylight that illuminates its two-floor atrium. The Chinese-American experience is the main focus of the permanent collection, but the additional gallery space allows for more contemporary programming—including a survey of contemporary Chinese-American artists and a series of short films set in Chinatown.

Neue Gallerie
This elegant addition to the city’s museum scene is devoted entirely to late-19th- and early-20th-century German and Austrian fine and decorative arts. Located in a renovated brick-and-limestone mansion that was built by the architects of the New York Public Library, this brainchild of the late art dealer Serge Sabarsky and cosmetics mogul Ronald S. Lauder has the largest concentration of works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele outside Vienna. You’ll also find a bookstore, a chic (and expensive) design shop and the Old-World--inspired Caf Sabarsky, serving updated Austrian cuisine and ravishing Viennese pastries.

Onassis Cultural Center
Programs and exhibitions pertaining to Byzantine and Hellenic civilizations are explored through multimedia programs, readings, film screenings and art exhibits.

Scandinavian House
One of the city’s top cultural centers, Scandinavia House is a lifeline between the U.S. and the five Nordic nations (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), and offers a full schedule of films, lectures, and art and design exhibitions. The caf, an outpost of small chain Smrgas Chef, serves up tasty Swedish meatballs, and the shop is a showcase for chic Scandinavian design.

Swiss Institute of NY
This establishment is filled with works linking Switzerland, Europe and the United States; notable upcoming exhibits feature works by Pierre Vadi Delta and Marlo Pascual.

The Ukrainian Museum
Here lies the most prestigious collection of Ukrainian folk art outside of Ukraine, including festive costumes, ritual cloth, fine pysanky (decorated Easter Eggs), watercolors and sculptural works, and rare Ukrainian ephemera (maps, posters, stamps, coins and more).



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