5 Reasons to Visit the Museum Mile in NYC

Like most of NYC, Museum Mile has achieved icon status as a destination in and of itself, independent of its individual parts like the legendary Guggenheim or MET. But just like every famous corner of the Big Apple, Museum Mile contains its own little microcosm of galleries, restaurants, bars, shops, and of course Central Park.

The Museums and Galleries

Each museum, gallery, and cultural institution that makes up the Museum Mile area on Fifth Avenue has its own focus and identity. But the concept of a collective came about in the 1970s to rebrand and stir renewed interest in the museums in the midst of the city’s financial crisis.
Pro tip: It could take several lifetimes to visit each exhibit at every museum and gallery from beginning to end, let alone in a single day. To get the most out of the experience and to museum like a local, select a few key exhibits of interest ahead of time.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum

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If you’re into photography, sculpture, and fine art, The Guggenheim is a New York institution that simply cannot be missed. From the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe to sculpture and Impressionist masterpieces, The Guggenheim is home to some of the city’s most impressive and important exhibitions.

• 1071 Fifth AvenueNew York, NY 10128

El Museo del Barrio

El Museo del Barrio curates a multimedia collection that includes visual, literary, and performing art presentations along with traditional art exhibits from Latino, Latin American, and Caribbean artists. Founded by artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz, the museum features over 800 years of pre-Columbian art from across Latin America. Programs and lecture series offered in English and Spanish for bilingual audiences

• 1230 Fifth AvenueNew York, NY 10029 212-831-7272

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)

Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Whether you want to admire Dutch masterpiece paintings or Native American art, if you only go to one museum on your next visit to NYC, make it The Met. The Met prides itself on curating collections that span 5,000 years of global culture and civilization, and offers a range of programs that include guided tours, studio and drawing workshops, musical concerts, and educational programming for children. Fun fact: there are two additional Met outlets: The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer.

• 1000 Fifth AvenueNew York, NY 10028212-535-7710

The Jewish Museum

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Here you’ll have a chance to view exhibits that cover Jewish art and culture from around the globe. Located in the Warburg Mansion on Museum Mile, The Jewish Museum was established in 1904 and was one of the first institutions in the United States (and the world) to feature artwork focused exclusively on Jewish art and culture. The museum also presents the yearly New York Jewish Film Festival in January.

• 1109 5th Ave at 92nd StNew York, NY 10128 212-423-3200

The Museum of the City of New York

From turn of the 20th century tenements to the history of The Yankees, the Museum of the City of New York showcases odes to the city’s past, present, and future. The museum also hosts private events, group tours, and a photo camp for young aspiring photographers aged 7-9.

• 1220 Fifth AvenueNew York, NY

The National Academy Museum

Explore art and architecture through a definitively American lens. The collection includes 19th and 20th century artworks from virtually all styles and periods, from the Hudson River School to the Impressionists. They also offer a searchable online archive.

• 5 East 89th StreetNew York, NY 10128

Neue Galerie

This museum hosts rotating collections dedicated to early 20th century German and Austrian art. There are also numerous lecture and recital series, as well as film screenings an a Cabaret night at Cafe Sabarsky.

• 1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street)New York, NY 10028

Cooper Hewitt

If you love design, you will love The Cooper Hewitt. Bonus points: it’s housed inside a mansion. The collection includes exhibits of classic and modern prints, objects, and textiles spanning several centuries, inspired by everything from 15th century works paces to art in the digital age.

• 2 East 91st Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues)New York, New York 10128

The Restaurants

Like most areas of NYC, Museum Mile packs a mix of old standards, chain restaurants, and modern upstarts. Depending on the time of year, a table on an outdoor sidewalk patio is the perfect way to top off the day with a little people watching (another legendary NYC pastime).
Honorable mentions:
  • Cafe Boulud
  • Laduree
  • Pastrami Queen
  • Cafe Sabarsky
  • The Writing Room
  • Kaia

Shopping

From weekend flea markets to upscale jewelry shops and boutiques, skip the department stores and shop local (but do feel free to buy that tote bag, sweatshirt, or coffee table book at the museum gift shop, of course).

Central Park

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Like the city itself, Central Park needs no introduction. A destination in its own right, the park is a sprawling oasis where you can eat, catch a concert, ride horses (or go for a carriage ride if you must), rent boats, or simply take a breather from the bustle of the city just outside its perimeter.

The Architecture

Classic NYC buildings and architecture are destinations in their own right. You can find some of the city’s most well-known landmarks in the Museum Mile area, from the famous Dakota to the outer structure of The Met. So before you go in, take a walk around the block to admire the famous facades. Some of the buildings in this neighborhood are as old school New York as it gets.

How to Get There

Museum Mile stretches along Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th Streets. Depending on where you are staying and the season, the easiest and most interesting way to get around the city is on foot. But if you’re further downtown or want to conserve energy for a long day of museum and gallery hopping, the subway is your next best option. Subway lines: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Q. Buses: M1, M3, M4, M86, M96.

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