Proud New Yorkers are quick to boast that they host the best museums in the world in their fair state. In New York City alone there are thousands of them, featuring everything from embalmed baby kittens to 13th century folk art. Taking time out of a New York vacation to visit some of these collections serves to not only enhance one's time in New York, but expand one's knowledge of art, history, education and culture. For the full New York experience, be sure to include some of these five museums into that travel itinerary.
1. American Museum of Natural History
Since its foundation in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has documented human culture, the natural world and the cosmos. Visitors can trace humanity and life itself back all the way to its starting point through exhibits like the Hall of Biodiversity, which traces 1,500 species over 3.5 billion years on its evolutionary timeline. Alternatively, in the Rose Centre for Earth and Space, visitors can watch the sky in the massive planetarium. Through extensive uses of dioramas and life-like three dimensional figures, the museum has found a way to make the natural history of our world come to life. While all of their exhibits are interesting, the dinosaur exhibit on the fourth-floor simply cannot be skipped. Visitors are treated to life size fossil skeletons of famous dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops and many more.
2. Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Creativecommons.org/ Shelley Panzarella
The Tenement Museum is a five-story brick walk-up with stories to tell. This museum was originally built and used as a tenement building in 1863 for the 7,000 immigrants that came to the country and lived in the building. While most tenements have been torn down and remodelled into other buildings and apartments, the Tenement Museum remains preserved so that the American youth will never forget what their immigrant ancestors had to go through to make it in the USA. Visitors to the Tenement Museum can explore the small homes and businesses across the five floors of the building. They get a glimpse at a time when indoor toilets weren't common place, when tenants had to rely on coal-burning stoves and fireplaces for heat and used candles and oil lamps for light. The Tenement Museum not only shows the less than stellar quality of life that immigrants had in New York City but also highlights the influence that immigrants had on Lower East Side culture.
3. Museum of Modern Art
Creativecommons.org/ Esther Westerveld
Since its foundation in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art has been home to over 100,000 pieces of contemporary art, including paintings, photographs sculpture and film. This is easily the finest art museum in the United States as it is home to some of the most recognizable works in the art world, such as Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Salvador Dali's The Persistence of Memory and Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Visitors will be sure to enjoy their ever-changing exhibits that guarantee something new to see each time they visit. However, they should also be sure to take in one of their many film screenings that will leave visitors feeling like they are ready to create something wonderful themselves. While the gift shops of most museums are easily skipped, visitors should make some time to explore the gift shop at the Museum of Modern Art, as it is practically an exhibit in and of itself. They host a number of decorative and functional items that host innovative and creative designs that pay homage to the creative works in the museum.
4. Queen's Museum
The Queen's Museum often doesn't get the attention it deserves from New York museum goers, however people who pass it up are not only missing a historic gem – but also one of the best views of New York City. The Queen's Museum is a cultural gem that has become a four-decade old art institution in the city. It sits perched atop a pavilion building that was specifically built for the 1939 World's Fair. The pavilion was briefly used to hold the United Nation General Assembly, but now it harbours a hefty collection of fine arts. Aside from classic pieces of art, the museum also contains a magnificent collection of Tiffany glass and the world's largest collection from the now defunct World's Fair events. However, the most famous exhibit in the Queen's Museum is New York City itself. Their Panorama of the City of New York is a massive model of the five boroughs of New York City, which was originally commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World's Fair. While it may not be the real city, it is the finest view of it that visitors are likely to get. However, the model has not been updated since 1992 so some things from New York are missing while others no longer exist.
5. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Creativecommons.org/ Global Jet
The Intrepid Sea, Ari and Space Museum brings twentieth-century history and technology to life right before the eyes of its visitors. The museum is centered around the USS Intrepid, but it also hosts 30 restored aircraft, a submarine and a Concorde Jet. The USS Intrepid served in World War II, The Vietnam War and served as anti-submarine patrols during the Cold War, as well as NASA recovery missions, before it was finally retired. Visitors can fully explore the ship, including its torpedo room, the top-secret missile command centre, the attack centre and even the crew's mess hall.