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An Essential Guide to New York City’s Museums

When in New York, one simply cannot miss out on visiting its museums and imbibing the rich historical and aesthetic vibe of the city. With the sheer number of options available, however, the task of creating a realistic yet worthwhile itinerary can prove to be a little more challenging than expected – especially for a first-time tourist.

And so we listed down some of our most favorite museums all around New York. You can use this as a guide to can help you determine which places to visit and what to expect from them when you embark on the Go New York Tours for a visit. We also added some tips that might be useful while exploring these museums. Shall we begin?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

the grandiose Met buildingIf museums have blockbuster awards, there can be no doubt that The Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET, as people fondly call it – will bag that award.

With over six million visitors annually, The MET Museum is arguably one of the most famous museums in all of America, and it is easy to see why. MET features about two million pieces of art objects spanning more than five millenniums of different cultural and historical perspectives.

The highlight of the museum’s extensive collection is arguably the “Temple of Dendur”, an Ancient Egyptian temple commissioned by Emperor Augustus of Rome at around 15 B.C. The temple, gifted by the Egyptian government to the United States in 1965, is displayed in a huge, sunlit atrium surrounded by a pool of water that meant to represent its original location near the River Nile. The museum also features a number of Ancient Egyptian artifacts that you might find remarkable including several papyrus pages from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, real Egyptian tombs, a few sarcophagi decorated with hieroglyphics.

TIP: MET’s special exhibits often draw a lot of press and relatively large crowds – if you visit late (especially around the exhibition’s closing) you may find yourself stuck in line and battling hordes of people to get a decent view of the exhibits. If you’re keen on getting the best experience, consider arriving earlier in the day. You can also drop by during weekdays as opposed to weekends.

American Museum of Natural History

AMNH dinosaur exhibit leave visitors in aweIf it’s your first time in New York City, be sure head over to the biggest museum of Natural History in the world – the American Museum of Natural History. This magnificently enormous structure is made up of four city blocks and boasts of 45 permanent exhibit halls (in addition to several seasonal exhibits that are regularly featured in the museum). Inside these halls are around 32 million specimens, ranging from plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, humans, and selected cultural artifacts.

With its extensive collection, AMNH can definitely offer something to everybody. For Dinosaur lovers, AMNH offers the largest collection of dinosaur bones in the whole world. The AMNH also features the Hayden Planetarium for those who’ve had their sights set on all things galactic and planetary. Aside from hosting various exhibits, AMNH is also committed to sharing knowledge to the public by presenting lectures, IMAX screenings, and space shows.

TIP: The AMNH has a free app that is downloadable for Apple phones and tablets. Use this to navigate your way through the museum, find exhibits quickly, and participate in the museum’s special events and promos!

Museum of the Moving Image

old film cameras on exhibit at the Museum of Moving ImageFor film lovers and cineastes out there, here’s one for you! The Museum of Moving Image, located in Astoria, Queens in New York is a unique museum that is exclusively dedicated to everything film, TV, and digital entertainment. The 160,000 square feet building, enlarged and refurbished in 2011 by Leeser Architecture, houses a permanent collection made up of around 13,000 items that aim to tell the wildly incredible history of American Cinema.

The main exhibit is located on the first floor. Aptly titled, “Behind the Scenes,” the exhibit illustrates the different processes of creation and production of films, TV series, and multimedia productions through the years. The second floor, on the other hand, houses different costumes, set designs, and even tributes to the various actors and directors. The evolution of film and production equipment are housed on the third floor of the museum. One can also see the different animatronics and special effects that were used in memorable films such as “Star Wars” and “The Exorcist”.

TIP: Make sure to catch the special film and animation screenings that are regularly held in the museum’s theater hall! Admission is free for ticket holders.

Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

facade of Cooper-HewittIf you are in New York City, chances are you’d love to visit the rich, artistic history of this magnificent city. And while there are plenty of museums where you can get your art fix on, we highly recommend you visit the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum located in the Upper East Side part of New York. It is the only museum in the whole of America that is exclusively devoted to design – both historical and contemporary.

Imagine: more than 210,000 featured design objects that span more than 30 centuries of history, all gathered under one roof. The museum’s collections present an eclectic mix of ancient objects and modern design icons, some of them curated by featured artists.

TIP: If you are an aspiring designer, make sure to check Cooper-Hewitt’s collection of digital resources for students and educators. The museum also regularly holds events and talks on topics related to art and design.

In New York, there is something for everyone, and if you are a big fan of museums, you’ll be glad to know that you won’t run out of places to go to or exhibits to explore. So go on ahead – bust out your maps, pick your most sensible pair of shoes, and take a trip down the history of the world and the achievements of civilization.