Best international societies and museums

Asia Society

  • Critics choice

The Asia Society sponsors study missions and conferences while promoting public programs in the US 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.

  1. 725 Park Ave, (at 70th St)
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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.

  1. 125 E 65th St, (between Park and Lexington Aves)
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Goethe-Institut New York

The extremely active Goethe-Institut—center for Teutonic language and cultural outreach—occasionally uses this 1907 Beaux Arts–style townhouse designed by Welch, Smith and Provot as one of its site-specific performance venues.

  1. 1014 Fifth Ave, (between 82nd and 83rd Sts), 10028
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Japan Society

  • Critics choice

In a serene setting complete with a waterfall and bamboo garden, the Japan Society, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2007, presents a range of performing arts, lectures and special events, and includes a gallery for temporary exhibitions.

  1. 333 E 47th St, (between First and Second Aves)
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Korea Society

Sure, you can bone up on South Korea's contributions to the Asia Extreme genre at your local DVD rental store. But if you want the real scoop on the country's cinematic output, stop by this cultural enclave and sample its curated film programming of both classics and contemporary dramas and comedies.

  1. 950 Third Ave, eighth floor, (at 57th St)
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Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA)

MOCA’s former space on Mulberry Street closed this past 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.

  1. 215 Centre St, (between Grand and Howard Sts)
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Neue Galerie New York

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 Café Sabarsky, serving updated Austrian cuisine and ravishing Viennese pastries.

  1. 1048 Fifth Ave, (at 86th St)
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Scandinavia 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 café, an outpost of small chain Smörgas Chef, serves up tasty Swedish meatballs, and the shop is a showcase for chic Scandinavian design.

  1. 58 Park Ave, (between 37th and 38th Sts)
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Swiss Institute

  • Free

Located in a historic Soho building, this gallery mainly exhibits contemporary art.

  1. 18 Wooster St, (between Broome and Canal Sts), 10013
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The Ukrainian Museum

The Ukrainian Museum moved to a new, 25,000-square-foot space on E 6th Street in 2005. In addition to larger exhibition galleries for temporary exhibitions, an auditorium, research library and classrooms allow more in-depth programming on Ukrainian history and culture.

  1. 222 E 6th St, (between Second and Third Aves)
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