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Personal experience: I visited all the museums in New York, and here are the 9 best of them


Alina Prikhodko

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Jane August set out to visit all the museums in New York. So far she has visited 106 of them. The girl shared with Gothamist a list of the best museums in the city. The following is a first-person account.

How many museums are there in New York? People usually guess there are about 50. They usually say the Met, MoMA, Guggenheim, maybe the Brooklyn Museum. They are often surprised when I tell them that there are more than 170 museums in the five boroughs of New York City. And they are even more shocked when I explain that I visit them all and document the journey on TikTok.

The project started in February 2021, in a pre-vaccine world. It was the 11th month of forced furlough and I desperately wanted to get out of the house and see friends, but didn’t want to risk catching COVID in one of those “outdoor” outdoor sheds. I realized that city museums could be a way to fight my fever. My best friend Jessie and I visited the Leslie-Lochman Museum of Art, just because it was open.

After that, I posted a video on TikTok in which I announced my plan to visit all the museums in the city. When I woke up, the video had gone viral with over 42 views. I realized that there are thousands of New Yorkers on TikTok who are also interested in discovering museums throughout the area.

Some of the subscribers recommended museums that I had not heard of, others offered to give me personal tours of the ones where they work. Since then, I have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art at dawn. I had a private tour of the Frick Collection. I even began to appreciate touristy things that I used to roll my eyes at, like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

@massssi_ The LARGEST Museum in NYC: @The Met ??‼️##themet##metmuseum##themetmuseum##metmuseumnyc##everymuseuminnyc##thingstodoinnyc##nycideas##nycfun##nycrecs##funthingstodoinnyc##explorenyc##newyorklife ♬ Euro$tep – West

And, most amazingly, I became a fan of Staten Island. I knew many New Yorkers were dismissive of the XNUMXth Borough due to stereotypes and distance, but after a few visits I better understand why it's such a draw. Plus, the Staten Island Ferry is the best free booze cruise in New York City.

On the subject: Slime, cannabis, meditation and Chagall: top 5 interactive exhibitions in New York

I've visited 106 museums so far - with about 70 left. To keep track of the museums, I created my own spreadsheet with a whopping 183 items. If you're looking to start small, like just expanding your museum world, here are nine unique places in New York City you might not know about that are worth visiting.

@janeaugust which museum should I visit first? #fyp #nyc #nyclife #newyork #newyork city #museum #museumsofnewyork #nycmuseum #newyorker ♬ test drive – Ariana Grande

Brooklyn Seltzer Museum

East New York, Brooklyn

Before LaCroix and White Claw came along, New Yorkers' favorite carbonated drink was good old sparkling water in a glass bottle with a siphon. Factory in May Brooklyn Seltzer Boys opened a museum in Brooklyn to tell the story of the drink's 1500-year history and why New Yorkers love it so much.

The museum is located in East New York on the premises of Brooklyn Seltzer Boys, a family-owned business now in its fourth generation producing, bottling and distributing water in the Tri-State area.

You can only visit the museum with a guided tour, which they conduct every Friday. On our tour, led by owner Alex Gomberg, we learned about the production process, saw the bottling and took part in a tasting. Tickets cost $25.

South street seaport museum

Lower Manhattan

I love when a museum makes you realize that there is more to a museum than artifacts in glass cases. The South Street Seaport Museum on South Street does just that, as it is not located in one building, but is scattered throughout the Seaport area in the form of galleries, ships and even a store.

The museum consists of an introduction gallery (with small traditional exhibits typical of museums), a fleet of ships (you can board the 1885 sailing vessel Wavertree and the 1908 Ambrose), and Bowne & Co. Stationers (a fully operational and very old printing press).

The museum offers a variety of additional activities, including schooner harbor tours, printmaking classes, and opera performances on board ships. You can find out more about the cost of entrance tickets and the program of events here.

The Living Museum

Queens Village

This is by far the most unique museum I've visited in New York. It is located on the grounds of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Institute, and some of the artists featured are outpatients and sometimes inpatients. You can find more information on their website, and if you're looking for a way to take a look inside, there's VR tour.

Waterfront museum

Red Hook, Brooklyn

There are quite a few museums on boats in New York City, but the smallest is the Waterfront Museum in Red Hook, located aboard a 1914 railroad barge that was used to transport goods through New York Harbor.

In the museum you will find folders of photographs documenting the barge and life on the waterways, ship bells that are allowed to be rung, and many maritime artifacts. Information about visiting hours and events can be found on the Waterfront Museum website. If life on the water isn't for you, they offer a virtual tour online, which is also the only way to see the deck.

Queens County Farm Museum

Glen Oaks, Queens

Every year when fall rolls around, my TikTok feed is full of girls heading upstate for hayrides and corn mazes. Last year, I was excited to discover that the Queens County Farm Museum offers year-round outdoor fun and farming opportunities.

The museum is located on a 19-hectare farm where visitors can learn about agriculture and the environment. There's a 1772 Dutch house, the largest apiary in New York, a farm stand, and plenty of animals. You can feed the sheep and goats.

It's worth visiting any time of year because it hosts a variety of events, such as the Amazing Corn Maze, the Winter Lantern Festival, and a tulip exhibit opening next spring.

City Reliquary

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I worked right across the street from this museum for three years before I found out there was a museum in this little store. (My friends thought it was a closed wine cellar.)

What at first looks like your grandmother's disorganized attic actually tells the story of New York City through its objects. City Reliquary also hosts exhibitions. The last time I visited, it was dedicated to candy made in New York.

City Island Nautical Museum

City Island, Bronx

I'm always surprised that people don't know about City Island, a 2,4 mile neighborhood at the very top of the Bronx that's famous for its seafood.

If you first learned about it from this article, I recommend you take a trip and check out the City Island Maritime Museum. Set in a former school building, it tells the story of City Island's shipbuilding history, as well as how the island has developed over the years. The museum is charming and you can find out more about entrance fees on their website.

Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art

Egbertville, Staten Island

This museum project made me an advocate for Staten Island, and I don't regret it. I've learned that there are some hidden gems that defy the stereotypes about Staten Island. One of them is the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art.

Here you'll find a replica of a Tibetan monastery in the US - even approved by the Dalai Lama - as well as one of the country's largest collections of Himalayan artifacts. It also offers great programs such as tai chi, yoga and meditation. During my visit we attended a singing bowl meditation which was absolutely incredible.

Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space

East Village, Manhattan

I love learning about the history of the spaces that museums call home. And for the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, such a home was a former squat in the East Village.

The museum was founded in 2012 and tells the often untold history of activism on the Lower East Side from the perspective of the activists themselves, with a particular focus on XNUMXst century efforts. There are exhibits about past protests and community actions that helped change the city, as well as a section on the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The museum, which is 100% volunteer-based, helps create and maintain community gardens in the area. It's all about community and helping people reclaim their space. There is no way you will leave this museum without feeling inspired by their work. Perhaps it will inspire you to get involved in your own community.

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