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Metropolitan Museum of Art

There are several large museums in New York but the Metropolitan Museum of Art is truly gigantic. From the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue, the Met, with its tall columns and windows, immense stairways and water fountains, looks like it could be an emperor’s palace. The size and diversity of the artwork on display is even more impressive; the museum’s collection contains works from every part of the world, spanning the Stone Age to the twentieth century. The Egyptian Art gallery includes a whole temple that was shipped to America as a gift.

Getting at least a little bit lost at the Met is inevitable. Floor plans help, but only so much. Despite their seeming complexity, though, the galleries are arranged to help you navigate through with ease. If you get mixed up, there are always museum personnel nearby who can give you directions If you’re planning on visiting the Met and another museum on Museum Mile in one trip, you’ll have to prioritize; going through the entire Met is a full day (or two) affair. The Met is a must see when visiting New York and is always worth another trip.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum, located on a section of Fifth Avenue known as Museum Mile, is housed in one of the most unique buildings in New York City. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the museum is shaped roughly like a teacup or an upside down terraced hill. It is not unusual to see adults with their children here, going up and down the spiraling ramp.

Exploring the Guggenheim is extremely enjoyable, but a floor plan is a necessity. The amount of artwork on display is significant, so much so that a visitor might feel a kind of art overload, which is why the museum offers self guided audio tours and group tours for interested visitors.

Expect to spend at least half a day going through the galleries and exploring the building. Try to head here early and avoid the weekends when the museum gets extremely crowded.


Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum is one of the museums along the segment of Fifth Avenue known as Museum Mile. Andrew Carnegie’s old mansion, which houses the Museum, looks like a building transplanted from a university campus; a black cast iron fence encloses a courtyard with grass and trees. While most museums have large banners or flags flying, the design museum posts a series of signs along the fence.

The exhibits, in large part, focus on work that gives every day items like furniture, computers and toothbrushes a more unique appearance, adding form to the function. Architecture and graphic design are also well covered.

The museum is not as large as it looks. Plan to spend two hours or more.


Jewish Museum


The Jewish Museum, located on the same avenue of culture as the Met, Guggenheim and Cooper-Hewitt, has a design style different from many other museums. The towers and windows make the building look, ironically, like a Gothic church, much different from the buildings next door, which are mostly plain and square. There is more to the Jewish Museum than meets the eye; unlike many other museums on Museum Mile, the Jewish Museum takes up all of the floor of its building. The galleries are arranged in a circuitous style which allows for a lot of material to be put on display and makes floor plans a necessity.

The permanent exhibit, located on the top two floors, presents the history of the Jewish people starting more than four thousand years ago. Since the exhibit is presented in chronological order, it makes the most sense to start at the beginning on the fourth floor and walk your way down through time.

The museum provides a large amount of information to explain the cultural and historical significance of the artifacts and artwork on display and makes for a wonderful learning experience. A curious visitor would most likely spend three or four hours seeing all of the galleries at this museum.

Shops

"The Cooper Shop at The Jewish Museum supports the educational mission of the Museum by offering distinctive Jewish ceremonial objects for every holiday; unusual jewelry; stationery items; reproductions; catalogues; CDs and audio and video cassettes, as well as children's books and toys.

Celebrations specializes in finely-crafted ceremonial objects designed to commemorate the holidays and the special moments in the lives of those you love. Additionally, the design shop offers a Bridal Registry and a full selection of ketubbot (marriage contracts)."

The shops are open the same hours as the museum and also on Fridays from 11:00 am - 3:00 pm.


International Center of Photography

The International Center of Photography Bookstore offers a wide range of best-selling and hard-to-find photography books from around the world. Emphasis is on exhibition catalogs, monographs on individual photographers, historical and critical works and technical books. In addition to books, we offer high-quality photography-related items including posters, T-shirts, photo frames and albums.


The Museum of the City of New York

"The Museum of the City of New York is a private, not-for-profit, educational agency established in 1923 to collect, preserve, and present original materials related to the history of New York City. In addition to individual contributions and gifts from foundations and corporations, the Museum receives public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The City of New York, the owner of the Museum's building, provides support in the form of operating and programmatic funds through the Department of Cultural Affairs."

The Museum of the City of New York, one of the most elegant museums in the city, looks like a Colonial American mansion; it is a large red-brick building with white stone columns accenting the entranceway and marble floors and stairways. It is way uptown, but the area is just as safe as the rest of the city.

MCNY is a large museum with four or five floors of exhibits. The fifth floor, which houses the Rockefeller rooms, a recreation of the houses of several famous Robber Barons, including Rockefeller, is open to the public intermittently. The other exhibits have just about everything you ever wanted to know about New York City and then some, including an exhibit devoted to New York’s history as a major seaport with ship models and a seven foot tall statue of the inventor of the steamship. Another gallery has recreations of living rooms from various time periods starting in the colonial era. Of course, there are plenty of paintings depicting scenes of New York.

The Museum of the City of New York is the place to go to find out more about the city. Plan on a fairly long visit, three to four hours, if you want to look through the whole museum.

El Museo del Barrio

El Museo del Barrio doesn’t look like a typical museum from the outside, it looks more like an apartment building, and the museum only takes up a small part of the building it’s housed in. As is evident from the Spanish name, the museum is devoted entirely to Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art. Anyone who’s worried can rest assured that all of the literature at the museum is in both Spanish and English, and there is plenty to read about the art's history, symbols and imagery.
A visit to the museum should take about two hours and would appeal to people who like contemporary Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art. If you’re curious and nearby on museum mile, a visit to El Museo del Barrio could be fun.


Goethe House German Cultural Center


"The Goethe-Institut New York organizes and supports a wide range of international cultural exchange programs in close cooperation with partners and institutions in both the host countries and in Germany. These activities range from the arts and humanities through science and technology."

The Goethe Institute is probably one of the smallest museums in New York. It’s a converted townhouse right across the street from the Met, and the gallery is actually only a part of the institute’s functions. There is also a library, book center and program center for people interested in German language and culture. It will only take about a half an hour to see this free gallery, so there’s no reason not to take a look in if you’re interested. The staff is friendly and willing to help answer any questions.

National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts

The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts is one of the oldest artist-run organizations in the United States. Founded in 1825, they have always fostered the promotion of the Fine Arts in America, and house a sizeable collection of American Arts, over 8,000 works! Designated a New York City landmark, this elegant and stately six-story Beaux-Arts townhouse designed by Ogden Codman Jr. is one of the few remaining mansions on Fifth Avenue that is open to the public.

Lectures, symposia, gallery talks, tours, and other educational programs are presented regularly, designed to complement special exhibitions and provide rare insights into the creative process from the artist’s perspective.

The National Academy Museum, located along Museum Mile, is housed in a landmark turn of the century Beaux-Arts townhouse. Although the museum appears to be rather small, there is a lot of gallery space featuring the museum's vast collection of 19th and 20th century American Art. The gallery spaces, like the art on display, are rather traditional.

The National Academy Museum is a place that would appeal mostly to art students or people who have a dedicated interest in painting. After visiting two or three other museums on Museum Mile, this museum would probably be too much to absorb or appreciate.

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