New York’s Penn Station is, for the millions of passengers that use it every year, little more than a means to an end. The busiest station in North America, this is the gateway to New York City for people from around the world. But it’s hardly the most interesting place to spend a lot of time. Really, you’re just going to want to drop off your bags at a Penn storage luggage station and get out of there.
Luckily, Penn Station enjoys an enviable location right in Manhattan, so you won’t have to go very far. Almost as soon as you step out of the station itself, you’ll be immersed in some of New York’s most famous buildings and tourist attractions. And that’s true of its museums, too.
New York is absolutely full of great museums, including some of the world’s top cultural institutions. So once you’ve left the bags behind, check out some great museums in the neighborhood around Penn Station. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This isn’t just one of the biggest and most famous museums in New York. This is one of the most visited and most well-regarded museums in the entire world. If you have even the slightest interest in history, art, or human culture, this is a place you can’t afford not to visit while you’re in New York.
The collection at The Met is simply staggering, and a genuine art lover could spend days wandering the halls and seeing one masterpiece after another. However, some of the highlights of the collection include works by Monet, Matisse, Picasso, van Gogh, and Andy Warhol. While the museum unsurprisingly has a great collection of work by American painters and sculptors, it also takes a global view to tell the story of art through its exhibitions.
Along with the permanent collection, there’s an ever-changing selection of temporary exhibits, so even if you have been to the museum before, there’s always something new to discover. Set aside at least a few hours, if not a whole day, to get to grips with this stunning collection.
The American Museum of Natural History
Easily one of New York’s most popular museums, the American Museum of Natural History is not far from Penn Station and is the place to learn more about the natural world that can seem so remote in the heart of the city.
This museum is famous for its impressive animal exhibits, but you’ll also see dinosaur fossils, learn more about the world of plants, and voyage deep into space. This museum is always a hit with kids, but you don’t have to be a youngster to enjoy this educational experience. As soon as you visit, you’ll see why the museum is so beloved in New York and why it’s a feature of every New Yorkers’ childhood experience.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Dedicated to modern art, MoMA, as it is often called, explores art from the 20th and 21st centuries and delves into the evolution of the art form from the early pioneers up to contemporary and cutting-edge artists of today.
Famous names on display here include van Gogh, Cézanne, Chagall, Picasso, and Salvador Dali. But along with these masters, you’ll encounter more recent and more experimental works by both famous and lesser-known artists of our times. Keep an eye on the temporary exhibits, as these often show some groundbreaking and confronting works by the best artists working in the world today.
The Guggenheim Museum
Located in a striking building on the Upper East Side, this museum was first established in 1937 and has been the home of some of New York’s most beloved artworks and exhibitions ever since. Dedicated to Impressionist and modern art, the Guggenheim holds around 8000 different works of art from the last century or so. Works by Kandinsky, Cézanne, Georges Braque, and Modigliani are some of the highlights of the permanent collection here, but what really sets this museum apart is its ever-changing temporary exhibitions. These often bring some of the most challenging pieces of contemporary art to New York, making this museum a must-visit for any art lover in the city.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
As a tonic to the world-renowned collections listed above, the Whitney Museum of American Art takes a narrower view and displays paintings and sculptures solely by American artists. That’s an impressive group to draw from, and you can see work by Warhol, O’Keeffe, and other celebrated visionaries here.
It’s a great place to come if you want to learn more about the evolution of American art, from the first early landscapes to the latest installations.
The New York City Fire Museum
If history is more your thing, don’t worry. New York has plenty of historical museums that will tell you more about the evolution of the city and beyond.
One of the most interesting and most underrated is the New York City Fire Museum. This small but fascinating museum tells the story of the New York fire department from its inception in 1865 through to the modern era, including the tragic events of 9/11. It’s a worthy tribute to the heroes who keep the city safe and a compelling place to learn more about how much New York has changed over the past couple of centuries.
The Museum of the City of New York
If you want to learn more about the history of New York itself, this is the place to do it. The Museum of the City of New York is the ideal place to learn more about the Big Apple, from its origins as the hunting grounds of native tribes to be skyscraper-studded metropolis it is today. The museum uses original documents, photographs, video, and interactive exhibits to take you on a journey through the story of New York, and you’ll leave with a better understanding of what makes this place so special.
The museums of New York really do have something for everyone. Whether you’re more interested in art from around the world, American artists, or the history of the city, you’re guaranteed to learn something worthwhile at these cultural institutions. Leave the bags behind and immerse yourself in the history and culture of New York, and you’ll leave with indelible memories of what New York has to offer.