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10 Best New York City Museums

Don't miss out on these fantastic museums in New York City

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Can't decide which museum to visit? Use this list of popular New York City museums to help you decide which one to include on your vacation itinerary.
More: Free & Pay-What-You-Wish Days at NYC Museums

1. American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History  American Museum of Natural History
Rach/vagueonthehow/flickr.com Creative Commons License

Since opening to the public in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has evolved and grown. In addition to the Rose Center planetarium and regular exhibits, the museum hosts a revolving series of exhibits, so there is always something new to see. AMNH is a wonderful destination for visitors of all ages, with wonderfully engaging experiences for just about everyone.

2. Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

This is the only US museum exclusively dedicated to historic and contemporary design. The exhibits at the Cooper-Hewitt offer visitors a chance to explore the nature and impact of design on their lives.

3. Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Great Hall at Ellis Island Immigration Museum

Located in the New York Harbor, approximately 12 million steerage and third class steamship passengers were processed on Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954. Immigrants who entered the United States through the port of New York were legally and medically inspected there. In 1990 Ellis Island was renovated and transformed into a museum dedicated to educating visitors about the immigrant experience.

4. Guggenheim Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Restoration Completion
Photograph by David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.
The Guggenheim Museum, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is best known for its spiral structure and unique museum layout. The permanent collection and temporary exhibitions at the Guggenheim highlight modern paintings, sculpture and film.

5. Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Accessible only by guided tour, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum offers visitors the opportunity to see into the immigrant past of the Lower East Side while visiting the actual apartments where immigrants lived and hearing stories about their lives. They also offer tours in Spanish and American Sign Language.

6. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art
Over 2 million works of art from around the world and throughout history are housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You could easily spend years exploring the Met's extensive collections, but even if you only have an afternoon to visit, you'll be impressed by the vast array of art on display.

7. Museum of Modern Art

Timothy Hursley ©2006

Founded in 1929 as the first museum dedicated entirely to contemporary art, MoMA is host to an impressive collection of modern artistic efforts in a variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, design and even film. They even offer special events and activities for families with children as young as four, making it a very family-friendly choice as well!

8. Museum of the Moving Image

Museum of the Moving Image
Photo by Heather Cross, licensed to About.com

The Museum of the Moving Image focuses on film, television and digital media, and its impact on culture and society. Located in Astoria, Queens, the museum is easily accessible by subway, just a short ride from Manhattan, and is a great destination for film-buffs and families alike.

9. New York Historical Society

New-York Historical Society
Photo © New-York Historical Society / Glenn Castellano

On West 77th Street at Central Park West, the New York Historical Society offers visitors an opportunity to see a collection that reveals much of New York's history. The collection includes Tiffany lamps, decorative objects, paintings, and furniture, and there are frequent special exhibits as well as the Dimenna Children's History Museum.

10. Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum
Photo by Ed Lederman, used with permission.
Boasting the most complete overview of twentieth-century American art of any museum in the world, the Whitney permanent collection consists of over 12,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, and photographs.

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