NYC Museums for Non-Art Lovers

17 Nov 2011

written by Mike Barish


New York City is home to nearly as many museums as it is people (give or take). Everyone is familiar with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but art museums aren’t for everyone. Truth be told, I get bored pretty quickly staring at paintings. That’s not to say that I don’t like culture. Thankfully, there are plenty of museums in New York for folks like me.

Blue Whale at American Museum of Natural History by Mike Barish

American Museum of Natural History

One of the greatest natural history museums in the world — if not the best — is located just across the street from Central Park on the Upper West Side. The AMNH houses collections of dinosaurs, artifacts and rotating exhibits that will captivate you for hours. For extra thrills, walk through the Butterfly Conservatory or check out a show at the neighboring Hayden Planetarium.

The New Museum

While it is, technically, an art museum, the New Museum is far more interactive than your typical stuffy art space. It features contemporary art installations and currently houses a giant slide and bizarre sensory deprivation chamber for visitors to explore.

Tenement Museum

The story of New York City is the story of immigrants coming to the United States to build better lives for themselves. In the course of doing so, they built this city. The Tenement Museum tells the story of a tenement building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that housed thousands of immigrant workers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It humanizes history in a way few other museums can.

Museum of the Moving Image

The Museum of the Moving Image celebrates the history and innovation of television, film and digital media. Located in Astoria, Queens, its vast archives are a film and television lovers dream. Beyond its myriad artifacts telling the story of the moving image, the museum also hosts film screenings and special exhibits like the current Jim Henson’s Fantastic World.

National Museum of the Native American

Located in the gorgeous Alexander Hamilton Custom House in Lower Manhattan, the National Museum of the Native American houses one of the greatest collections of North American native peoples. It’s worth visiting to see the gorgeous space and the diversity of the exhibits. The great care that is taken to tell the stories of our native peoples is all the more reason to spend a day here.

Do you have your own museum tip for New York City? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below. Also, make sure to create your own list like NYC Museums for Non-Art Lovers on NYC Way.

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About the author

Mike Barish is a freelance travel writer, host and regular contributor to Gadling. He is a universally respected expert in the SkyMall catalog whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Budget Travel, World Hum, One+ and Intelligent Travel. He has hosted Chevrolet’s Cruze-arati web series, SOYJOY's Real Take On campaign and the Mike & Alex’s Travel Show podcast. Mike is based in New York City where he lives with his fiancée and their two dogs.

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2 Comments on NYC Museums for Non-Art Lovers

  1. Kathy R

    No Transit Museum?? One of the best for people who are not Museum people. And kids!

  2. Craig Nelson

    That’s a great suggestion! The Transit Museum is a really fun place to spend the afternoon.

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