Manhattan is well-known for its bevy of world-renowned cultural institutions. In any given neighborhood, there's little difficulty finding a museum to visit. In fact, sometimes there's just so much to choose from that it complicates things. We'll make it easy for you. Here are the top museums in the Upper West Side.
#1 American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is not only a top museum in the Upper West Side, but arguably one of the best museums in the entire world. The American Museum of Natural History is surrounded by Theodore Roosevelt Park, and is directly adjacent from Central Park. The museum sees 5 million annual visitors throughout the complex of 27 interconnected buildings. Though the museum space is massive, only a fraction of the 32 million plus specimens of fossils, minerals, animals, plants, rocks, human artifacts and meteorites can be displayed at a given time. Popular exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History include the Hall of African Mammals and, of course, the Dinosaur Wing, which houses the popular Tyrannosaurus rex fossil. The American Museum of Natural History is open daily, 10:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m. Museum admission is a suggested donation.
#2 Hayden Planetarium
Technically, the Hayden Planetarium is an extension of the Museum of Natural History, but it’s overwhelming popularity and acclaim easily makes it a top Museum in the Upper West Side. The Hayden Planetarium, sometimes called the “Hayden Sphere,” is located within AMNH’s Rose Center for Earth and Space, and features an amazing high-resolution “space shows” in the top floor of its Star Theater, which are based upon current and constantly updated astrophysical data. In the lower half of the sphere is the Big Bang Theater, in which museum guest can watch a four-minute show on the birth of the universe. Outside of the theater is the Size Scales of the Universe exhibit, which depicts a timeline of the universe to scale. The Hayden Planetarium is open daily, 10:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m. with an admission to the Space Show of $27 (adults), $17 (seniors/students) and $12.50 for children.
#3 New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society is New York City’s first museum, having been founded in 1804. The mission at New-York Historical is to explore the political, cultural and social history of New York City, as well as the nation. The museum is well-known for producing some of the most thorough exhibitions, such as Lincoln and New York, Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America, and Slavery in New York. The New-York Historical Society also has a collection of some of the world’s greatest artifacts and art pertaining to the history of New York and the United States. The New-York Historical Society hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., Friday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Museum admission is $18 (adults), $14 (seniors/educators/active military), $12 (students) $6 (kids 5-13) and free for kids under four years old.
#4 American Folk Art Museum
The American Folk Art Museum is the premier institution devoted to traditional folk art and certainly a top museum in the Upper West Side. The museum’s comprehensive collection includes pieces of art ranging from the eighteenth century to the present day. Current exhibitions at the Lincoln Square located museum includes Traylor in Motion: Wonders from New York Collections, which details fragments of the artists’ life in the form of images of recurring characters and subjects. The American Folk Art Museum hours are Tuesday - Saturday 12:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Museum admission is free.
#5 Children’s Museum of Manhattan
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan was founded in 1973 during a fiscal crisis that saw schools remove art and cultural programs from their curriculum. Today, the museum is sees over 325,000 visitors a year. The museum is clearly geared for children, with popular exhibits including EatSleepPlay: Building Health Everyday, which promotes a healthy lifestyle through interactive and creative ways. The museum also showcases Exhibits with Dora and Diego, which aims to develop problem solving, math and language abilities with the popular duo, as well as promoting an appreciated and awareness of Latin American culture. Children’s Museum of Manhattan hours are Sunday - Friday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Admission is $11 (adults/children) & $7 (seniors).
Not in the Upper West Side? Check out our museum and gallery guides for the Financial District, SoHo, Chelsea, the Villages and the Upper East Side. Want to relocate to the Upper West Side? Take a look at these Upper West Side condos for sale.