If you want to feel like a real New Yorker and visit a totally different exhibition, I recommend you make a stop at the Museum of the City of New York, which traces the history of the great metropolis from its beginnings to the present day through different exhibitions.
Specifically, this charming museum with colonial architecture distributes its exhibitions over four floors, which include photographs, a curious exhibition of puppets, videos and even a collection of doll's houses (yes, doll's houses too!), which tell the story of New York and its citizens.
This is definitely one of the best museums in New York, and a must-see if you're passionate about the city and art.
Avoid the queues and get your priority entrance to the Museum of the City of New York
Perfect if you want to visit this museum without wasting time at the ticket office and with the security of being able to cancel the plan if you change your mind.
Buying your tickets in advance for the Museum of the City of New York is a must when organising your trip to the Big Apple. Mainly to avoid a terrible queue at the box office once you arrive at the building. Remember that, after all, New York is one of the most visited cities in the world and, therefore, it has quite a large audience in its museums. Be foresighted!
The advantage? You'll be able to visit the museum at your own pace and without rushing, you'll enjoy the preferential access that this option gives you, and you'll also have the right to free cancellation if you have any unforeseen circumstances or change your mind.
The best thing: you'll be able to use the time you've saved in the queue to get to know the city. Because in "New York, New York", as Frank Sinatra sang, there are plenty of plans to make because the city of skyscrapers is infinite, so it's best to make the most of every second.
Recommended if... you want to avoid the crowds and queues that form on weekends at the Museum of the City of New York.
What is included in this ticket
- Queue-free admission to the Museum of the City of New York.
- Free right of cancellation in case of unforeseen circumstances
- Viewing of the documentary 'Timescapes' (28 minutes)
- Permanent exhibitions
- All special exhibitions
How much do tickets to the Museum of the City of New York cost?
As I've already explained, the best thing to do is to buy a priority ticket, which costs €18. This way, your booking will be confirmed immediately and will be sent to your email so that you can access it whenever and wherever you want. At the click of a button and without leaving your home!
The difference in price between buying in advance and at the museum counter is minimal, just 70 cents, and in case you have a setback, if you buy in advance you get a full refund. At the ticket office, for example, they will only refund 50% if you give at least seven days' notice.
How to get tickets to the Museum of the City of New York at the ticket office
If you are one of those who like to leave everything to the last minute, including travel planning (who hasn't?) it is also an option to buy your ticket at the box office. The current price for the Museum of the City of New York is €17,30.
However, I don't think this is the most advisable option based on my experience at this museum. Let me explain why: first of all, buying tickets for the Museum of the City of New York once you arrive at your destination means that you will have to adapt to the museum's opening hours and availability (tickets are subject to a time limit), travel a long time beforehand and wait in a long queue to buy them.
Secondly, bear in mind that the museum is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the busiest and busiest days for tourists. This means that you will waste a lot of time queuing, time that, especially in winter, when it gets dark earlier, you will want to spend elsewhere.
Are tickets to the Museum of the City of New York included in any New York City Sightseeing Passes?
Yes, if you want to explore, in addition to the Museum of the City of New York, all the attractions of the metropolis without going broke trying, there are several tourist cards that are very interesting and will suit your tastes. Believe me, there is something for everyone, since you can customise them according to the length of your trip and the number of activities you want to do.
Tourist passes that include the Museum of the City of New York:
How to get to the Museum of the City of New York
The Museum of the City of New York is located in East Harlem at the top of Museum Mile at 1220 Fifth Avenue 103rd Street and is easily accessible by public transport. For me, perhaps the most convenient way to get around the Big Apple is to use the underground, which costs around €2.60 for a single ticket.
However, the New York underground is literally a city under the city. To make sure you don't panic, here are some basic tips on how to find your way around and use the New York underground.
Recommended methods of transport
- By bus: via lines M1, M2, M3, M4 and M106 to 104th Street.
- By metro: you can take the red lines 2 and 3 or the green line no. 6.
- By bicycle: most of the institutions on the Museum Mile are committed to environmentally friendly transport and have parking facilities for these vehicles very close by. This is no exception. There is a Citi Bike - the public bicycle parking system - at 103rd St. Fifth Avenue.
Nuria's Traveller Tip
Note for the thrifty! If you plan to use public transport several times, the best option is to buy the MetroCard, which is valid for the metro and buses.
Museum of the City of New York Opening Hours
Unlike most museums in the Big Apple, this little gem is only open from Friday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. I suggest you check the opening hours on the official website before you go, as they tend to change depending on the time of year (in winter it closes earlier). Be careful! It also closes its doors on Thanksgiving , Christmas and New Year's Day.
If I may make a suggestion, ideally visit the Museum of the City of New York on Friday mornings and avoid Saturdays and Sundays. It's a fairly small gallery and on weekends you may run into capacity problems, so you'll be free to roam around the exhibits!
Main exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York
To get you started, every half hour (between 10:15am and 5:15pm) the museum screens the award-winning 28-minute documentary 'Timescapes', a quick history of New York City that will serve as an introduction to the museum. I suggest you bring your own headphones for the interactive experiences in the galleries. In addition, you'll find an exhibition of vintage toys and objects, the collection of Stettheimer's House of Museums and many other surprises in the temporary exhibitions. A sneak preview:
Stories of New York
In particular, you'll enjoy the exhibition **Collecting New York Stories", a collection of historical and contemporary photographs spanning from colonial times to the recent past and showcasing works by both well-known and emerging artists, including Janette Beckman, Bruce Davidson, Richard Sandler, Harvey Wang and many others.
Puppets of New York
Until 3 April 2022, you can also visit the Marionettes of New York exhibition which explores the surprising history of New York City's quirkiest residents: the puppets who travelled with immigrant communities to settle in the city. And if you're a music lover, you'll love the exhibition New York, New Music, a look back at the music revolution of the 1980s in the metropolis.
Activist New York
And my personal favourite and the highlight of the museum: Activist New York, which, through artefacts, photographs, audio and visual presentations, tells the story of the city's various movements: the anti-slavery struggle, the struggle for free sexual orientation, the women's revolution and religious freedom, among others.
How much time do you need to visit the Museum of the City of New York?
That's a personal answer that will depend on the type of museum traveller you are, your interest in the exhibition and your time in the city. Personally, I find that the exhibition can be covered in an hour and a half if you want to do a quick tour or in about two hours if you do a more detailed tour.
Bear in mind that, as I mentioned, the documentary 'Timescapes', which quickly contextualises the history of the big city, will take you 28 minutes. In my opinion, it's better to take your time and enjoy the museum's surprises, such as the shop, which will take you back to your teenage years. Don't just check off your list!
Are there guided tours of the Museum of the City of New York?
Yes, there are private tours and guided group experiences. If you want a more personal and intimate experience, the museum offers you the possibility of hiring a one-hour tour with an expert guide or with the art curators in charge of the exhibitions, which can enhance your experience. This format is recommended for families, university groups, companies, team activities and organised groups. Here are the two options available:
What is included in the guided tour
- 1-hour guided tour during public museum hours
- Free admission to the galleries and special exhibitions
- 15% discount in the museum shop
- From €303 (please note that this is a group flat rate for up to 10 people)
- Drink and an aperitif
What is included in the guided tour VIP
- 1-hour tour led by the museum curator during public museum opening hours
- Free admission to the museum's galleries and special exhibitions
- 15% discount in the museum shop
- From €692 (flat rate for up to 10 people)
- Drink and an aperitif
Is it worth paying for one of these tours?
It will depend mainly on your budget and the number of people on the trip. Personally, I think it's worth it if you are a large group. For example, if you go with your family (a group of 10 people) the guided option will cost you €30 per person.
If this is not your case (and you are only going with a friend or your partner) and you are on a tight budget, I recommend that you buy the preferential ticket and download the Urban Archive app on your mobile phone for a free guided tour with your ticket so that you don't miss any detail of the exhibition.
Virtual workshops at the Museum of the City of New York for children
The museum has launched the Project Kid initiative, in which artist and programme founder Amanda Kingloff conducts virtual sessions in which she teaches children to create crafts from home using everyday objects with a New York City theme. Remember the Art Attack programme and 'The Handyman'? This is something similar.
This art project is aimed at families and children over 7 years old to stimulate their creativity. For example, among the proposals presented is to create a snow globe with the city of New York in the background or to build miniature doll's houses, an idea inspired by the museum's Stettheimer doll's house collection.
If you liked this idea, check out this guide full of things to do in New York with kids. I'm sure it will make your family trip a success.
Nuria's Traveller Tip
When you've finished visiting the exhibition, go to the museum shop - it's the perfect place to buy an original gift! You'll find curious objects and unique souvenirs, such as Lego pieces to build the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.
This is the fun shop at the Museum of the City of New York
If you want to take home a nice souvenir of New York (far from the classic postcard or magnet), I suggest that, at the end of your visit, you go to the
museum shop. It's small, but it's a real killer - you'll love it!
Here you'll find Epi, Blas, Kermit the Frog and the Cookie Monster turned into puppets, which you can buy for €9.50 each; or if you're someone who likes practical gifts, you can buy two pairs of socks with the main characters from the iconic Sesame Street series for €12. Acceptable prices for a museum.
There is also a space for memory and activism with objects inspired by the exhibition 'Activist New York'. I was fascinated by the socks of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg which, by the way, are now sold out. If you want to know who this superwoman is who defied Trump and fought for women's legal rights, I recommend you watch the film 'A Question of Gender'.
Other interesting museums in the city
And if after your visit to the museum you're left wanting more, and don't want to go to the typical galleries, don't worry, New York has plenty of hidden cultural treasures. My favourites are the Guggenheim Museum, which houses paintings by Picasso, Monet and van Gogh, and the spectacular views from the Whitney Museum, ideal for watching the sunset.
Here is the definitive guide to the 12 best museums in New York. And you, which one do you choose?