Best museums to while away a winter afternoon

New York’s best museums can be intimidating; we’ve put together three itineraries to help you maximize your time in three of the city’s top institutions.

If you’re looking for ways to warm up, why not be cultural about it? We’ve got plans of action to help you navigate three of the best museums in town. Learn about dinosaurs and global food at the American Museum of Natural History, check out Christian Marclay and Edvard Munch at the Museum of Modern Art, or play video games and learn about the history of film at the Museum of the Moving Image.

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“Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature and Culture”

“Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature and Culture” Photograph: AMNH/D. Finnin

American Museum of Natural History

What to do: Start your excursion at the iconic Central Park West entrance, where you can gawk at gigantic Barosaurus and Allosaurus models in the soaring rotunda. From there, head to the seasonal exhibit “The Butterfly Conservatory: Tropical Butterflies Alive in Winter” (through May 27), featuring hundreds of colorful insects flying around a vivarium that’s heated to a balmy 80°F. (The bug-averse may want to stay away, lest a butterfly land on you without your knowledge—shudder.) Once you’ve thawed out, head downstairs to peek at the recently reopened Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall, a series of installations dedicated to the lifelong conservationist. (Be sure to check out the dioramas, which include stuffed birds that the 26th President collected on a trip to Egypt.)

Take a quick elevator ride to the third floor to see “Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature and Culture” (through Aug 11), a new show that examines how food is grown, transported and used across the world. A mix of obsessive details—such as an infograph detailing the Scoville scale (which measures the heat of peppers)—and interactive elements, including a touch screen that shows how dishes throughout the world are prepared, make the show appealing to both gourmands and cooking novices. Stroll through the fourth-floor galleries, which house the museum’s collection of dinosaur skeletons; end your journey by contemplating the limitless universe, as illustrated by the models (including the massive Hayden Sphere) in the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Central Park West at 79th St (212-769-5100, Daily 10am–5:45pm; suggested donation $14.50–$25.

Where to fuel up: The museum’s food and drink options are limited to the food court and a couple of cafés serving standard sandwiches, so we suggest finding sustenance before beginning your trek. Grab a seat underneath the nautically themed mural at Luke’s Lobster (426 Amsterdam Ave between 80th and 81st Sts; 212-877-8800, and feast on seafood-shack fare, including clam chowder ($8) and a Maine-style lobster roll meal ($15–$17).

  1. American Museum of Natural History
  2. Museum of the Moving Image
  3. Museum of Modern Art