5 Essential Art Galleries and Museums to Visit in New York City

New York City has a frankly ridiculous number of art galleries and museums. These are some of the top museums to visit in New York City. You can find art galleries, museums and photography galleries all over the town, including in Brooklyn and Queens. The biggest cluster, however, is in Manhattan, with an abundance in Chinatown, Chelsea, the Upper East side, Lower East Side, Soho and Midtown. If you’re visiting NYC for a few days and just can’t figure out which gallery to go to, well, this handy guide points you towards the best of the best.

Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

MoMA has one of the finest collections of art from the 18th century, with art by iconic and venerated artists in virtually every corner. Crowds throng the space in late spring and summer, as well as around Christmas, when the best you can hope for might be a momentary glimpse of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or Van Gogh’s Starry Night. There are also special exhibitions and large installations that are popular enough for people to wait for hours just for that specific exhibit.


Located in an extremely unique Romanesque Revival building that once used to be a public school, PS1 hosts a highly celebrated international studio program and mounts cutting-edge shows. You can’t wave your arm around without knocking over artwork. Every corner showcases a piece, as does the roof and even the stairwells! In 1999, PS1 became affiliated with MoMA in 1999. The two entities sometimes collaborate on exhibitions. In recent years, the art museum has showcased the work on international artists like Olafur Eliasson and Janet Cardiff and. Additionally, it hosts Warm Up, summer’s most fashionable Saturday-afternoon party.

Gladstone Gallery

Need a fix of some daring Conceptualist art? Go to Gladstone Gallery, a firmly blue-chip gallery that exhibits bold artists like Anish Kapoor, Sarah Lucas and Matthew Barney. Gladstone Gallery has two locations in Chelsea, one on the Upper East Side and a branch in Brussels, Belgium.

47 Canal

If you looked up avant-garde or cutting-edge in a picture dictionary, you should find 47 Canal mentioned there. Constantly pushing the envelope, the gallery originally opened in 2008 on Canal Street in an office kept by artist Margaret Lee, who runs it with her boyfriend Oliver Newton. Since then, the gallery has located to Grand Street with a roster that includes Anicka Yi, Antoine Catala and Trevor Shimizu.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is the museum you’ve probably already heard of even if you don’t have much of an interest in art. Taking up over 13 astounding acres of Central Park, this sprawling museum boasts over 5,000 years of art from every corner of the world. From ancient mummified royalty to cutting edge fashion couture from last year’s runway, this is the institution that has it all. Of particular note is the Temple of Dendur, an Egyptian temple from 10 B.C. that once overlooked the Nile and was then transposed Sackler Wing to overlook a reflective pool.

Other highlights include Grecian sculptures, European and Asian armor,  contemporary photography and medieval art. Buy advanced online tickets to skip the lines. If you’re on a budget, it’s advisable to come in early on weekdays and pay what they wish. If there’s one place you should visit multiple times, it’s definitely the Met. The special exhibits change every few months, and are always gems.