Upper East Side museums: The best of Museum Mile and its environs

Before hitting Museum Mile’s peerless cultural cache, peruse our list of Upper East Side museums, from the massive Met to private collections.

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Between 82nd and 105th Streets, Fifth Avenue is lined with more than half a dozen celebrated institutions. Trace the history of art in the era- and globe-spanning Metropolitan Museum of Art, then admire the spiral lines of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. It's also essential to head east of Museum Mile for other top Upper East Side museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art (before it moves to its new Meatpacking District digs).

RECOMMENDED: Upper East Side neighborhood guide

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Price band: 3/4
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RECOMMENDED: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Occupying 13 acres of Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which opened in 1880, is impressive in terms both of quality and scale. Added in 1895 by McKim, Mead and White, the neoclassical facade is daunting. However, the museum is surprisingly easy to negotiate, particularly if you come early on a weekday and avoid the crowds. In the ground floor’s north wing sits the collection of Egyptian art and the glass-walled atrium

  1. 1000 Fifth Ave, at 82nd St, 10028
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Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

  • Price band: 3/4
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RECOMMENDED: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum The Guggenheim is as famous for its landmark building—designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and restored for its 50th birthday in 2009—as it is for its impressive collection and daring temporary shows. The museum owns Peggy Guggenheim’s trove of Cubist, Surrealist and Abstract Expressionist works, along with the Panza di Biumo Collection of American Minimalist and Conceptual art from the 1960s and ’70s. In addition to works by Manet,

  1. 1071 Fifth Ave, at 89th St, 10128
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Whitney Museum of American Art

  • Price band: 2/4
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RECOMMENDED: Whitney Museum of American Art Like the Guggenheim, the Whitney is set apart by its unique architecture: It’s a Marcel Breuer–designed grey granite cube with an all-seeing upper-story ‘eye’ window. When Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a sculptor and art patron, opened the museum in 1931, she dedicated it to living American artists. Today, the Whitney holds about 15,000 pieces by nearly 2,000 artists, including Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper

  1. 945 Madison Ave, at 75th St, 10021
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The Frick Collection

  • Price band: 2/4
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The opulent residence that houses a private collection of great masters (from the 14th through the 19th centuries) was originally built for industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The firm of Carrère & Hastings designed the 1914 structure in an 18th-century European style, with a beautiful interior court and reflecting pool. The permanent collections include world-class paintings, sculpture and furniture by the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer, Renoir and French cabinetmaker Jean-Henri

  1. 1 E 70th St, between Fifth and Madison Aves
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Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum

  • Price band: 2/4
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Founded in 1897 by the Hewitt sisters, granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper, the only museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to design (both historic and modern) has been part of the Smithsonian since the 1960s. The museum hosts periodic interactive family programs that allow children to experiment with design.

  1. 2 E 91st St, at Fifth Ave
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Society of Illustrators

  • Rated as: 4/5
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  • Free

Since it was founded in 1901, the Society of Illustrators has promoted the work of artists around the world through events and exhibitions in the former carriage house of William P. Read, attorney to J. P. Morgan, on the Upper East Side.

  1. 128 E 63rd St, between Park and Lexington Aves
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The Jewish Museum

  • Price band: 2/4
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The Jewish Museum, housed in the 1908 Warburg Mansion, contains a fascinating collection of more than 28,000 works of art, artifacts and media installations. The two-floor permanent exhibition, “Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey,” examines how Judaism has survived and explores various Jewish identities throughout history. There is also a permanent exhibit specifically for children: The Café Weissman serves contemporary kosher fare.

  1. 1109 Fifth Ave, at 92nd St, 10128
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French Institute Alliance Française

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 2/4
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One of the largest Gallic cultural centers in the country, this language and cultural center has extensive offerings of theater, dance, music and performance throughout the year. Among its impressive facilities is the Haskell Library, stocked with French-language newspapers, magazines, DVDs and books.

  1. 22 E 60th St, between Madison and Park Aves
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92nd Street Y

  • Price band: 2/4
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The iconic institution, which was founded in 1874, hosts all manner of events, including lectures (with boldfaced names like Eliot Spitzer and the late Nora Ephron), live music, dance performances and more. Expect special programming during Jewish holidays such as Passover and Hanukkah. Browse and sign up for classes at 92nd Street Y

  1. 1395 Lexington Ave, between 91st and 92nd Sts
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The Grolier Club

  • Rated as: 4/5
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  • Free

Named after French bibliophile Jean Grolier de Servières, this institution is a library and an exhibit space.

  1. 47 E 60th St, between Madison and Park Aves
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Americas Society

  • Rated as: 4/5
  • Price band: 1/4
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  • Free

The Americas Society exists to provide public programming and forums to encourage ideas, discussions and debates about issues throughout the Western Hemisphere.

  1. 680 Park Ave, at 68th St
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Asia Society

  • Price band: 2/4
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The Asia Society sponsors study missions and conferences while promoting public programs in the U.S. and abroad. The headquarters’ 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 café, with a pan-Asian

  1. 725 Park Ave, at 70th St
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