Did you know that New York has one of the highest numbers of museums in the world? Well, now you do. And we want to uncover some of the best museums in the city that you should visit on your upcoming New York trip.
Roughly 66 million people visit New York City each and every year. And with so many incredible sights, experiences, and landmarks to enjoy, it really is no wonder why. From Times Square and Central Park to the State of Liberty and the Empire State Building, NYC has a whole range of things to see and do, making it one of the best cities in all of the United States.
But what makes New York even more enticing is its huge selection of museums and memorials. In total, there are roughly 145 museums to explore in the city. And whether you enjoy learning about the past, gazing at contemporary art, or broadening your mind in regards to natural history, New York has you covered.
Understandably, many of New York’s museums have an admission fee. However, there are some that are free all year round. And others that have free admission time slots on select days.
After visiting New York and some of its museums, we can honestly say that scheduling a museum or two here and there is a fantastic way to spend your day in the city. Plus, some of these museums have been featured in well-known movies like The Night at the Museum, for example, which just makes the experience even more exciting.
Free Museums in New York City
As parents, we love a free attraction, and in a city like New York, free things are very hard to come by. These two New York museums, however, are free all year round. And are truly worth a visit while spending time in the city.
The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration
Admission to The Ellis Island Museum of Immigration is free. However, you will need to purchase ferry tickets to get over to the island itself. Housed inside the former immigration complex, the museum showcases the history of America’s immigration through historical records, photographs, and heirlooms.
The displays inside the museum shed light on how people once travelled to and entered the United States of America, as from the late 19th century to the 1950s, Ellis Island was the port of entry for millions of passengers into the United States.
The ferry you take to visit the Statue of Liberty stops off on Ellis Island. So you really get two great attractions all in one go!
Best For: History buffs who love learning about America’s complex past.
Opening Hours: 9 PM to 6 PM, Monday to Sunday.
Price: Admission to the museum is free. However, a ferry ticket to both Liberty and Ellis Island starts at $24.50 per person.
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is one of few free museums in New York. And it delves into the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Opened in 1994, the museum’s New York location aims to educate people about more than 1,200 indigenous cultures of the Americas and their unique traditions.
Exhibits in the museum feature beaded and feathered ceremonial objects, textiles, carved wood and bone, everyday items, and various other artifacts that are organised by tribe. Aside from the permanent exhibits, the NMAI hosts cultural programs like dance and music performances. And craft demonstrations and workshops to keep all visitors entertained.
Best For: Those who wish to learn more about America’s indigenous people.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Sunday.
Price: Entrance to the museum is completely free.
Paid Museums in New York
Although all of these upcoming New York museums do require an entrance fee, some of them open their doors on certain days of the week/month and allow visitors to enter for free. If you have the flexibility to visit these museums on those days, then we highly recommend doing so. But if your time is limited, then we believe their entrance fee is totally worth it.
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The 9/11 Memorial and Museum or National September 11th Museum is split into two parts. And the memorial section of the attraction is completely free to enter. The museum, however, does require a ticket. But all ticket sales help fund the memorial. So it’s money well spent, in our opinion.
The memorial museum covers 110,000 square feet and educates people on what exactly happened on that fateful day in September 2001. 9/11 is one of the most well-known terrorist attacks, and the museum truly opens your eyes to the destruction that was caused that day.
Best For: People wishing to learn about how the 9/11 attacks impacted New York, Washington D.C., and Virginia.
Opening Hours: 9 AM to 7 PM, Wednesday to Monday.
Price: Free admission to the memorial. Museum admission is $33 per adult, $27 for children aged 13 to 17, and $21 for children aged 7 to 12. Children under 6 enter free.
If you’re an art lover, then you’ll want to visit the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn. Covering 560,000 square feet, the Brooklyn Museum is one of New York City’s largest museums, housing 500,000 artworks and antiques from all over the world.
The Brooklyn Museum is a ticketed museum. However, on the first Saturday of February to August and the month of October, the museum opens its doors free of charge from 5 to 11 PM.
Best For: Art lovers and those interested in antiques from around the world.
Opening Hours: 11 AM to 6 PM, Wednesday to Sunday.
Price: Tickets for the Brooklyn Museum are pay what you wish. However, children under 19 are free.
The Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is another must-visit for art lovers visiting New York. Not only does the museum house countless pieces of contemporary American art and modern art. But it also contains artwork from famous painters like Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. It’s not every day you get to see some of the world’s most famous artwork like Starry Night, is it?
With even more sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings to discover, you really can spend hours gazing upon all the MoMA has on offer.
Best For: Art lovers and those who wish to see some of the most famous artwork in history.
Opening Hours: 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM, seven days a week. However, Saturdays have slightly longer opening hours, with the museum shutting at 7 PM.
Price: Adult tickets are $28, while children under 16 are free.
The American Museum of Natural History
By far, our family’s favourite museum in all of New York is the American Museum of Natural History, as there are just so many interesting exhibits to explore. Founded in 1869, the Natural History Museum has become one of the world’s distinguished scientific, educational, and cultural institutions.
Inside the museum are 45 permanent exhibition halls that include a planetarium, extinct and endangered species, dinosaur displays, and a butterfly vivarium. In total, there are over 33 million specimens and artifacts that call the museum home, as well as one of the world’s largest natural history libraries.
So whether your little ones enjoy learning about prehistoric beasts, rocks and minerals, the solar system, or animals that walk our planet today, the American Museum of Natural History has it all covered, making it a must-visit attraction for families visiting New York.
Best For: Families with young children.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5:30 PM, seven days a week.
Price: Adult tickets are $28, while child tickets (ages 3 to 12) are $16.
The Guggenheim is an art museum in New York that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1944. The museum is the permanent home of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern, and contemporary art, which spans over six storeys.
Alongside the museum’s permanent exhibits, the Guggenheim has various conversations, performances, and family-friendly activities. So, no matter how old your kids are, there will be something to keep them entertained.
Best For: Art lovers and people who appreciate 20th-century architecture.
Opening Hours: 11 AM to 6 PM, Sunday to Friday. 11 AM to 8 PM on Saturdays.
Price: Adult tickets are $30, while children under 12 are free.
The MoMA PSI, not to be confused with the MoMA, is a contemporary art institution that provides a space for new and innovative artists. Unlike its affiliate, the MoMA, the MoMA PSI showcases modern art pieces, boundary-breaking ideas, and experimental practices.
Best For: Art lovers who enjoy contemporary art.
Opening Hours: Sun, Mon, Thu, Fri, 12 PM to 6 PM, and Sat 12 PM to 8 PM.
Price: Adult tickets are $10, while children under 16 enter for free.
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum is a design museum housed within the Andrew Carnegie Mansion in Manhattan, New York. The beautiful mansion is home to the nation’s only museum dedicated to historic and contemporary design. And with a collection of over 210,000 design objects that span thirty centuries, there are plenty of things to look at in both the permanent and temporary exhibitions.
A museum dedicated to design may not seem like the most interesting place to take children. But the museum, with its interactive galleries, is guaranteed to be a hit amongst kids of all ages.
Best For: People who are interested in design, fashion, and wall coverings.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM, seven days a week.
Price: Adult tickets are $15, while children under 18 get in for free.
The Frick Madison
The Frick Madison is the temporary home of the Frick Collection, while the historic buildings are closed for renovation. Known for its distinguished Old Master paintings and outstanding examples of European sculpture and decorative arts, the Frick collection, which was founded by Henry Clay Frick, includes works from Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Goya.
Unfortunately, children under the age of 10 are not permitted to enter the Frick Madison. But on Thursdays from 4 to 6 PM, the museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission.
Best For: Renaissance and early 20th-century art lovers.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 6 PM, Thursday to Sunday.
Price: Adult tickets are $22, while children over 10 are free.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney Museum of American Art is an art museum in the West Village and Meatpacking District. Informally known as The Whitney, the museum plays host to a collection of 20th and 21st-century American art.
The museum’s permanent collection spans from the late 19th century to the present. And consists of more than 26,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by over 3,800 different artists.
The Whitney also has special tours and events that take place. And on Saturdays, kids can get involved with workshops where they make their own art. On Fridays from 7 PM to 10 PM, the museum offers pay-as-you-wish entry.
Best For: Art lovers with an interest in 20th and 21st-century art.
Opening Hours: 10:30 AM to 6 PM, Wednesday to Monday.
Price: Adult tickets are $30, while children under 18 are free.
The Museum of Math
The National Museum of Mathematics, also known as MoMath, is a museum dedicated to mathematics located in New York City. It was founded in 2012 and is situated at 11 East 26th Street in Manhattan. The museum’s mission is to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics, making it more accessible and engaging for people of all ages.
MoMath features a wide range of interactive and hands-on exhibits that explore various aspects of mathematics, from geometry and algebra to probability and statistics. The museum is designed to be an educational and recreational space where visitors can explore mathematical concepts through fun and interactive exhibits.
Best For: Families wanting an interactive museum
Opening Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Closed on Thanksgiving Day
Price: Adult $25.00, Child (2–12 years old) $20.00
The Jewish Museum is an art museum on Fifth Avenue that showcases Jewish culture. As one of the oldest Jewish museums in the world, New York’s Jewish Museum is devoted to exploring both Jewish art and culture through exhibitions and programs that highlight over 30,000 pieces of ceremonial objects, art, and media.
Whether you’re Jewish yourself or enjoy learning about different religions and their views toward art, the Jewish Museum offers a unique perspective that you won’t find anywhere else.
Best For: People who want to learn more about Jewish art and Jewish history.
Opening Hours: 11 AM to 6 PM, Friday to Monday. And 11 AM to 8 PM on Thursdays.
Price: Adult tickets are $18, while children under 18 enter for free.
The Morgan Library and Museum
The Morgan Library and Museum was founded in 1906 by J. P. Morgan in order to house his private library of manuscripts, printed books, prints, and drawings. Now, however, the museum has an expansive collection of illuminated manuscripts, musical manuscripts, and a large collection of prints and drawings from European artists.
Some of the art and artifacts in the museum date back to 4000 BC. Plus, there are some incredibly rare books and manuscripts, including one of 23 copies of the original Declaration of Independence.
Best For: People interested in manuscripts and art that spans over 6000 years.
Opening Hours: 10:30 AM to 5 PM, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat, and Sun. And 10:30 AM to 7 PM on Fridays.
Price: Adult tickets are $22, while children under 12 get in for free.
Museum of Digital Experiences
One of the most fun New York museums with kids in tow is the Museum of Digital Experiences. The MoDE is New York’s first all-digital museum that has 14 unique digital art installations. With some of the artworks reacting to your movement and reflection, the museum as a whole is an incredibly interactive experience.
Best For: Families with young children.
Opening Hours: 4 PM to 9 PM, Thursday and Friday. And 11 AM to 6:45 PM, Saturday and Sunday.
Price: Tickets for the MoDE are $22 per person.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art—AKA The Met—is the largest art museum in the Americas. In 2022, The Met welcomed over three million visitors, making it the third most visited US museum.
Containing over two million works that are divided among 17 departments, The Met is a museum not to be missed, especially if you’re a big fan of art.
The main building of The Met sits on Fifth Avenue, while the second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park, contains collections of art, architecture, and artifacts.
Best For: Art and architecture enthusiasts.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, Sun, Mon, Tues, Thurs. And 10 AM to 9 PM, Fri and Sat.
Price: Adult tickets are $30, while children under 12 enter for free.
The Tenement Museum
The Tenement Museum is another New York museum that focuses on immigrant and migrant experiences. With two tenement buildings on Orchard Street and the surrounding neighbourhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, visitors can take tours of recreated homes and the neighbourhoods in which America’s former residents would have lived.
We personally think having your kids learn about how different people used to live is a great way to broaden their mindset and help them realise that things weren’t as easy as they are today.
To visit the Tenement Museum, you do need to book a tour. However, having a knowledgeable tour guide can be extremely beneficial.
Best For: People interested in how immigrants and migrants lived over 100 years ago.
Opening Hours: The first tour starts at 10:30 AM, with the last tour at 4:45 PM. It’s best to check the Tenement Museum website for specific times and dates.
Price: Tours start at $30 per person.
Museum of the Moving Image
Another great New York museum to visit with kids is the Museum of Moving Image in Astoria. The MoMI’s exhibits immerse you in the creative process of producing, promoting, and presenting films, television shows, and other forms of digital entertainment.
With artefacts related to moving images and educational programs that help you understand the history of the moving-image industry, the MoMI is an immersive experience that film-loving kiddos are bound to love.
Every Thursday from 2 PM to 6 PM, the Museum of Moving Image lets visitors in free of charge.
Best For: Families with children interested in the process of creating films and TV shows.
Opening Hours: 2 PM to 6 PM, Thursdays. 2 PM to 8 PM, Fridays. 12 PM to 6 PM Saturdays and Sundays.
Price: At the time of this writing, the MoMI website wouldn’t display ticket prices.
Museum of the City of New York
What better way to learn about the city you’re visiting than by checking out the Museum of the City of New York? The museum, which was founded by Henry Collins Brown in 1923, aims to preserve and present the history of New York and the people who once lived there.
With exhibits that educate about the city’s distinctive character and those that highlight New York’s heritage, the Museum of the City of New York is an eye-opener in regard to topics related to the Big Apple.
Best For: People who want to learn more about New York and its history.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 9 PM, Thursdays. And 10 AM to 5 PM, Friday to Monday.
Price: Adult tickets are $20, while children under 19 enter for free.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Museum is an American military and maritime history museum in New York City. And if you have boat, plane, and space shuttle-loving little ones, it is a must-visit when spending time in New York.
The museum’s aircraft carriers contain the world’s first space shuttle, a nuclear weapons-carrying submarine, and dozens of military aircraft—some of which were used in World War II.
In addition to the planes, and shuttles, with dynamic exhibitions and various special events, the entire family can expand their knowledge of some of the greatest accomplishments of the 20th century.
Best For: Families with kids who love aircraft, ships, and space shuttles.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week.
Price: Adult tickets are $36, while children aged 5 to 12 are $26, and kids under 4 are free.
New York Transit Museum
Another New York museum for transport-loving kiddos is the New York Transit Museum. The New York Transit Museum shows the impact of public transportation. And highlights how transport has grown and developed throughout the New York Metropolitan area.
The museum is home to historical artefacts of the New York City Subway, bus, and commuter rail systems—it even has an authentic subway station for you to explore.
Best For: Families with kids who love all things transport.
Opening Hours: 10 AM to 4 PM, Thursday to Sunday.
Price: Adult tickets are $10, while kids tickets (ages 2 to 17) are $5.
Museum of Ice Cream
You can find one of the most colourful, fun, and unique museums in all of New York at the Museum of Ice Cream. The Museum of Ice Cream is a pink-painted museum with photo-friendly exhibits that are based around all things ice cream.
In addition to the photo exhibits, there are games, sprinkle pits, and slides to enjoy. So, the Museum of Ice Cream will definitely be a highlight of the trip.
Best For: Families with kids.
Opening Hours: 11 AM to 7 PM, Wednesday to Friday, and Monday. 10 AM to 7 PM on Sundays. And 10 AM to 8:30 PM on Saturdays.
Price: Tickets start from $36 per person.
New Museum of Contemporary Art
And the final must-visit New York museum is the New Museum of Contemporary Art. The New Museum of Contemporary Art spans over seven storeys and is home to various exhibits that focus on, you guessed it, contemporary art.
Best For: Contemporary art lovers.
Opening Hours: 11 AM to 6 PM, Friday to Wednesday. And 11 AM to 9 PM on Thursdays.
Price: Adult tickets are $22, while children under 18 enter for free.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.