I am excited to share another guest post, fresh from New York, written by our very own contributor – Monica. Following her previous post, today, she is sharing the best places to see art in New York City: museums, art galleries and so much more!
Although known as the city that never sleeps, New York is not only celebrated for its cutting-edge fashion and happening nightlife, but also for its extraordinary diversity of art. New York is an artist’s haven, an art connoisseurs’ dream and a tourist’s journey of discovery, all at the same time. Apart from the traditional museums, you should know there are a multitude of art galleries throughout the city, to keep you entertained for weeks, at no cost whatsoever. Below are some of my suggestions, and some of my favorite places in NYC to see art.
Free art galleries:
1. Chelsea Gallery Night
Perhaps the largest concentration of art galleries in the world, dealers representing both established and up-and-coming artists exhibit in venues between 22nd and 27th Streets, West of 10th Avenue, in Manhattan. Head to Chelsea on any Thursday night; galleries open their doors to the public and serve wine, beer and their latest art. Consult Art Cards for exhibit details before heading out, or simply follow the stream of hip New Yorkers from one gallery to the next.
2. Lower East Side Gallery Night
Lower East Side is hosting a similar Gallery Night, every third Thursday of every month. Most galleries are on Orchard, Stanton and Rivington Streets below Houston Street, in Lower Manhattan. Recently launched in 2011, it now features over two dozen venues. Pick up a guide at the Lower East Side Visitor Center at 54 Orchard Street. While you’re in the neighborhood, you should also stop by the New Museum, a contemporary art museum that focuses on “new art and new ideas,” free every Thursday from 7 to 9pm. The Lower East Side and the East Village are also filled with an impressive number of graffiti murals and street artists, which you might want to check out.
3. DUMBO’s “First Thursday”
You might remember from my last guest post mentioning Brooklyn Bridge Park and DUMBO’s “Silicon Beach.” Apart from the thriving start-up scene, Dumbo is also home to the monthly Brooklyn Art Project. The participating galleries are all around Front Street, within walking distance to the F train stop. So, head out there every first Thursday of every month, for a glass of wine, and more so, for some amazing waterfront views of Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline.
Suggested admission museums:
1. Metropolitan Museum of Art
I’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art – the largest in the United States – at least ten times. So, it’s fair to say I qualify as an expert as to what is interesting to see and do inside the massive art sanctuary. Second only to Musée du Louvre in terms of numbers of visitors, the Met hosts more that 400 numbered galleries, with art as global and diverse it can be. Located on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile on the Upper East Side, the splendid great halls that exude with intricate architectural details and an overall invigorating sense of openness are my favorite sections of the museum. I suggest you have a big breakfast before heading out to the Met. It could take you literally a full day just to go through the premises; it may also be advised you leave some for the next visit, as it may get overwhelming.
For much needed fueling brakes, there are several cafes and restaurants throughout the museum. My favorite is the Great Hall Balcony Bar, where you can order appetizers and cocktails, accompanied by live classical music. I should mention there is no coffee served here, and the prices are as “special” as the bar itself.
Outside the Met, The Cloisters are not to be missed. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, which I mentioned in my last guest post, is also steps away from the museum, in Central Park.
Another splendid feature of the impressive Metropolitan Museum is its rooftop garden, to be found on the museum’s fifth floor. The Manhattan and Central Park views are certainly breathtaking, but the Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City is what caught most people’s attention. Exhibited up to November 4th, the peculiar futuristic reflective structure, of modular cubes adjoined in an unconventional manner, had visitors searching for their cameras.
Tickets: A standard admission ticket for adults is $25, however the good news is that the Met runs on a “Pay What You Wish” admission. This means that when you reach the cash register, simply mention how much you would like to pay/donate; don’t get intimidated by the cashier trying to upsell you the “suggested” $25 ticket price. For instance, most people donate $1; no worries, there will be plenty of opportunities to spend more.
2. American Natural Museum of History
The American Museum of Natural History (abbreviated as AMNH), located on the Upper West Side, on the opposite side of where the Metropolitan Museum is located, is also one of the largest and most notable museums in the world. Set in green surroundings across the street from Central Park, the museum comprises of 25 interconnected buildings that house 46 permanent exhibition halls, research laboratories, and its renowned library.
The collections contain over 32 million specimens, of which only a small fraction can be displayed at any given time. Similar to the Met, the AMNH might require more than one visit, as it is quite large. My favorites were the Dinosaur Hall, the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, the Stout Hall of Asian Peoples, as well as the Rose Center for Earth & Space, where amongst other fun trivia, you can see how much you would weigh on Mars. The Creatures of Light Exhibit is also worth seeing, for a separate ticket.
Tickets: Regular “suggested” general admission tickets cost $19; however, the ANMH runs on a “Pay What You Wish” entry, similar to the Metropolitan Museum. You will figure that out by the long lines of tourists preparing their $1 bills.
3. Guggenheim Museum
I have to admit; the Guggenheim Museum is one of those museums I have visited for its novel circular design, rather than its modern art. I find it to be spectacular!
However, the last time I went – two weeks or so ago – I enjoyed both. The vibrant colored paintings captured my attention from the opposite side, with its popping hues of orange, ink blue and other playful combinations.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the cylindrical museum building, wider at the top than the bottom, is one of the 20th century’s most important architectural landmarks. It was featured in several movies, most recently being 2009’s The International with Clive Owen, and its lobby hosted several special events; the eccentric Lady Gaga just launched her Fame fragrance inside the Guggenheim, while guests and attendees watched her sleep. I would qualify sleeping as a type of art or a thrilling launch party, but then again, it’s Lady Gaga!
Tickets: Instead of a regular $22 ticket, bear in mind Saturdays, from 5:45 to 7:45pm, the same “Pay What You Wish” admission as at the Met and at the ANHM goes into effect.
4. MOMA (Museum of Modern Art)
The lovely Museum of Modern Art, also known as MoMA. is where modern art lovers should dwell. You can see both quirky modern designs, as well as great works of the past. To be honest with you, I was mostly interested in seeing Romanian born Constantin Brancusi’s work, exhibited on the fifth floor. Unlike popular belief, he was Romanian that acquired French citizenship. Due to the Communist regime in his native Romania, he mostly resided in France.
For pop art fans, there are several pieces of the late Andy Warhol. As far as technology goes, you will be surprised by some of the early Macintosh computers. And, although I am not the biggest fan of contemporary modern art, I would never say no to the exquisite paintings of Picasso, Dali, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo; the pieces exhibited in MOMA almost took me back to the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid.
Tickets: Skip the regular $25 ticket for free admission during Target Free Friday Nights, held every Friday evening from 4:00 to 8:00pm. Go early, the lines get quite long.
Paid, but worth visiting museums:
1. BODIES The Exhibit
I’ve saved the best for last! Although not the “prettiest” museums you may think of, it’s perhaps most educational. BODIES The Exhibition is one of those museums I NEVER wanted to visit. Let’s face it; studying up close real human bodies, in gruesome detail, is not my favorite way of spending an afternoon. However, since I was doing research for this post on NYC museums, I decided to drag myself over to South Street Seaport (which by the way, you should also check out) to see what the hype is all about.
Moving past my initial reluctance, I tried to embrace the educational side of the exhibit, which is indeed impressive. A controversial world-famous exhibit, present not only in New York City, but in Las Vegas, NV and Atlanta, GA, it allows visitors to learn about the human body, at a whole new level.
It is truly not to be missed, when visiting NYC. For more details about the process of preserving and showcasing 200 actual human bodies, head on to their website.
Tickets: The tickets are quite pricey at about $29 (including tax) each, but it’s well worth it; I would only assume preserving real bodies they way they do in this museum doesn’t come cheap …
2. The Intrepid
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is another museum worth going to, for both kids and adults. Built in 1943, the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid served tours of duty through World War II and Vietnam, making seven trips around the world, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. It then served as a NASA astronaut recovery vessel. In September 2001, the Intrepid served as temporary field headquarters for the FBI as it began its investigation of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.
Since 1982, Intrepid has become both a New York City and an American icon, as a museum on the Hudson River. The museum boasts the authentically restored aircraft, a British Airways Concorde, a submarine, an interactive hall and some really fun flight simulators. July 19th also marked the day the legendary Space Shuttle Pavilion opened to the public, a great way of honoring Intrepid’s 30th Anniversary as a museum.
On June 6th (my birthday in fact), huge crowds, as well as numerous TV stations gathered to watch as the Space Shuttle Enterprise made its way up the Hudson River, passing by the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center. I was there as well, witnessing a moment of history and snapping pictures for my blog; during the course of a few hours, the shuttle was lifted, via crane, onto the flight deck of the Intrepid, her new home.
Tickets: A General Admission including Space Shuttle Pavilion ticket runs for $28. A General Admission ticket alone is $22.
Hungry for more art? I have a few more fantastic suggestions, so stay tuned for more!
Happy New York sightseeing and let me know which museum you liked best!
Monica Suma is a Romanian-born blogger and travel writer, who resides in New York City. An avid traveler, and a social media evangelist, Monica is always on the lookout for her next adventure. She is also an interior design fanatic and a professed fashion victim, covering the latest lifestyle trends and NYC events. You can follow her blog, her Examiner.com travel column or her tweets @MonicaSuma.
Museums and Galleries of New York
Outside the Metropolitan
Tomas Saraceno structure
Metropolitan Rooftop Garden
Outside the ANMH
Outside the Guggenheim New York
Looking up from the Guggenheim lobby
Inside the circular Guggenheim
Last level, looking down in Guggenheim
Funny statues outside MOMA
Sectional of a body
Parked aircrafts on top of the Intrepid
Space shuttle Enterprise
Lower East side graffitti