Best Overall Museum: American Museum of Natural History. You can spend your entire visit to New York at this 4-square-block museum; there is that much to see. From the famed dinosaur halls to the Hall of Ocean Life, the Museum of Natural History houses the world’s greatest natural science collection.
Best Art Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not just the best art museum in New York, but the best in North America. The number of masterworks is mind-boggling.
Best-Looking Museum: Museum of Modern Art. Though the exterior of the Guggenheim is the certainly memorable, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art is oddly attractive, MoMA’s $450-million renovation makes it the coolest-looking museum, inside and out, in town.
Best Art Museum that People Outside New York Love to Tell You They Love the Most: The Frick. I (Richard) have met more Europeans in my travels who tell me their favorite museum in New York is the Frick. It’s stately, restrained, gorgeous, elegant, and very tasteful—how some Europeans see themselves. And I adore it, too.
Best New York Museum about New York: Museum of the City of New York. Start here and get a feel of what the city is like—from past to present. There are always fascinating exhibits.
Best Home Posing as a Museum: The Louis Armstrong House Museum. This unassuming house in Queens was Satchmo’s home for almost 30 years, and it’s been preserved almost exactly as it was when he died in 1971.
Hope this helps!
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I lived in Manhattan for over four years and enjoyed many visits to The Met (Museum of Art) and the Frick. The collection at the Met is vast and a visitor can literally spend days and days exploring the many rooms and chambers. The Rooftop Bar is also fabulous; a great place to enjoy a drink and the glorious treetop vistas over Central Park as well as the dramatic building skyline. The fine collection at the Frick is all the more enjoyable because it is housed in a gracious mansion built by a former industrialist.