Thanksgiving is just one week away so there’s no time like the present to think about what we’re thankful for. New York is so busy and crowded that sometimes it can be hard to take a minute to give thanks for some of the best parts of the Big Apple. We’ve compiled a list of the top five museums that we’ve been thankful for this year. New or old, small or large, museums can provide such fantastic education and entertainment value, and the sites in New York are the best of the best. Read on to find our top picks.
Mount Vernon Hotel Museum
We give thanks for the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and all historic homes in this city. Without them, the history that has been preserved would simply be told by word-of-mouth or read about in books. The MVHM was built in 1799, first constructed as a carriage house but quickly transformed into a day hotel. It is New York’s only remaining historic day hotel. Only $8 for admission, your ticket grants you entrance to the 8-room house, a guided tour, and the serene garden behind it. Take a step inside and you’ll think you’ve left modern day New York behind for good! In addition to tours, special events and exhibits attract history-lovers every week – join the museum for romance tours and afternoon tea, cooking demonstrations, candlelight tours, murder mysteries, dances, and more. For information on other historic homes in New York, visit the Historic House Trust, whose houses span over 350 years of New York history.
Visit the MVHM at 421 East 61 St., Tuesday – Sunday. Admission $8.
National Museum of the American Indian
The museums in downtown NYC are sometimes forgotten in favor of the more popular uptown ones, but if you haven’t made it to the National Museum of the American Indian, you’re missing out. This museum is located inside the Customs House at Battery Park City. Free to the public and run by the Smithsonian, the NMAI has one of the most extensive collections of art and artifacts from Native American Indians that span over 12,000 years of history – that’s a lot of history! Pottery, jewelry, clothing, masks, basketry, and more are all found here, representing Indians from the Plains, Plateau, Southwest, Northwest Coast, and Arctic. Central and South American cultures are also represented, as are modern day designs. If that isn’t enough incentive to send you downtown, consider that November is National Native American Heritage Month, and the museum has been celebrating with plenty of presentations and tours open to the public. Current exhibitions include Glittering World: Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family and Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed.
Visit the NMAI at One Bowling Green in the Alexander Hamilton US Customs House, Sunday – Saturday. Admission free.
Rubin Museum of Art
Another museum that displays art and artifacts not typical of traditional museums you might visit is the Rubin Museum of Art. We are so thankful for the Rubin not only for its wide and beautiful array of artworks on view, their rotating and permanent exhibits, and their happy employees, but for their diverse programming that includes and invites every single New Yorker and visitor. Regular programming includes daily tours, Friday night K2 lounge with DJ, Friday night Cabaret Cinemas that screen new and old films alike, and Family Sundays art workshops. Regularly featured performances include Spiral Music for intimate Himalayan music, Naked Soul for acoustic music, and Jazz at the Rubin. Conversation series set up every season are directly connected to exhibitions on view and bring in famous actors, musicians, researchers, authors, and more. You wouldn’t think such a tiny museum could offer so much at once, but once you visit, you’ll understand just how special the Rubin is. Even if you don’t think Himalayan art is your thing, visiting the museum for its gift shop, cafe, performances and talks makes it worthwhile.
Visit the Rubin Museum of Art at 150 West 17th Street, Wednesday – Monday. Admission $15 (free Friday nights; performances additional).
Museum of Biblical Art
Well, you can’t visit it anymore but it doesn’t mean we still can’t be thankful for the Museum of Biblical Art, which used to be located right at Columbus Circle. A revolutionary museum that combined art and religion but encouraged visitors of all faiths and backgrounds to visit, MoBiA presented one highly researched, organized, and exciting exhibition after another for an entire decade. Originally open to the public free of admission, the museum was a cultural gem that finally closed its doors on June 14, 2015. Its last exhibition, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello, was, ironically, its most successful, hosting sculptures from the Duomo Museum in Florence that had never been seen before outside of Italy. MoBiA was the only museum to host an exhibition of these historic and amazing works. Past exhibitions focused on a wide range of art, from modern art to African American art, Tiffany stained glass to 19th-century European paintings. If nothing else, the catalogs and other exhibition materials produced by the museum will stand testament to the incredible work MoBiA accomplished in the field of art and religion.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has always been a bastion of art and artifacts from around the globe, from every century. It is New York’s museum. It is the museum every traveler has to visit. And it is the museum every New Yorker has come to time and time again. With a rich array of artworks on display, a world-class team of curators, and engaging exhibitions, there’s a lot to love about the Met. The Temple of Dendur, the Costume Institute, the Astor Chinese Garden Court, the Moroccan Court, and the Greek and Roman Galleries are some of the many reasons people come to visit this iconic museum. Here, there truly is something for everyone. One fascinating exhibition after another and one long hallways after another are the trademarks of this museum. You can travel the halls of the Met every day for a year and still not see everything there is to see.
Visit the Met at 1000 Fifth Avenue, Sunday – Saturday. Suggested admission $25 (but don’t feel guilty about handing over a single dollar bill, especially if you plan on visiting a lot).