The top art museums in NYC

See our picks for the best art museums in New York presenting the finest in art, from classical to cutting-edge
Photograph: Martin Seck
By Howard Halle |

Even if you're not from New York City, you're probably familiar with its power trio of art museums: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA and the Guggenheim. But as fabulous as these places are, they represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the art museums Gotham has to offer. And they're not just limited to Manhattan: Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx all boast major institutions. To help you find the best of them, check out our guide to the top art museums in NYC. And when you plan your visit, make sure to consult our guide to free museum days.

Top art museums in NYC

Museums, Art and design

The Rubin Museum of Art

icon-location-pin Chelsea

Opened in 2004, this six-story museum (once home to Barneys New York) houses Donald and Shelley Rubin’s impressive collection of Himalayan art and artifacts, as well as large-scale temporary exhibitions.

Photograph: Nash Baker
Museums, Special interest

Asia Society

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

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 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.

Museums, History

The Morgan Library & Museum

icon-location-pin Murray Hill

This Madison Avenue institution began as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan and is his artistic gift to the city. Building on the collection Morgan amassed in his lifetime, the museum houses first-rate works on paper, including drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles; a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley; manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck and Wilde; sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart; and an original edition of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that’s displayed every yuletide. In 2006, a massive renovation and expansion orchestrated by Renzo Piano brought more natural light into the building and doubled the available exhibition space. A theater, Gilder Lehrman Hall, regularly hosts recitals and concerts.

Photograph: Bronx Museum of the Arts
Museums, Art and design

Bronx Museum of the Arts

icon-location-pin The Bronx

Founded in 1971 and featuring more than 1000 works, this multicultural art museum shines a spotlight on 20th- and 21st-century artists who are either Bronx-based or of African, Asian or Latino ancestry. The museum sporadically offers family programming.

Museums, Art and design

Queens Museum

icon-location-pin Queens

Located on the grounds of two World’s Fairs, the QM holds one of Gotham’s most amazing sights: The Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,335-square-foot scale model of the five boroughs, created for the 1964 exposition and featuring Lilliputian models of landmarks. The museum underwent an expansion to double the size of its galleries in 2013, as well as add public-event spaces, two new entryways and a glass facade facing Grand Central Parkway. A new branch of the Queens Public Library will open in the new space in 2015.

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