Admissions Blog

Ciara's Favorite NYC Museums

By Ciara Comerford '23
Posted Jun 06 2023

During my last term at SIPA, a friend (hi Sofia!) and I took it upon ourselves to visit a different museum almost every Saturday afternoon. For those that don’t know, as a Columbia student and an NYC resident, you get access to almost any museum in the city -- you can check out Karoline's Guide and Carolina's Discount Guide for more hidden perks. Plus, it’s a really nice way to spend time with a friend. Given that I’m now a museum aficionado, here are some of the ones I think everyone should consider checking out when in NYC!

  1. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 5th Ave. I don’t think my vote is needed to convince anyone to visit the largest art museum in the Americas. But in case you needed one more person, I’m here telling you that this place is so much more than the steps from Gossip Girl. Personal favourite areas include the Astor Chinese Garden Court and the American wing, but the gorgeous statues are a classic for a reason. Come here once, or twice, or three times, and still leave feeling like there’s so much more to see.
  2. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern PkwyA little further away from Morningside Heights, but equally worthwhile is the Brooklyn Museum. They run gorgeous exhibitions here in addition to their regular collections and it’s worth it to escape the hustle and bustle of Manhattan sometimes. Take a walk around and then head into Prospect Park or the Botanical Garden, both of which are right next door.
  3. Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison AveThis is a place you should specifically come to when you’re a SIPA student because normally tickets can run close to $30, but for you they’re free! Come take a look around a very old mansion on Madison Ave belonging to J.P.Morgan himself - bonus points if you go at Christmas Time and see a live reading of an original copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens - pro tip, keep an eye on the stairs!
  4. Natural History Museum, 200 Central Park WestThis is a place to be filled with childish wonder and perhaps feel like you’re seeing Night in the Museum in real life. Hidden gems (pardon the pun) include the Halls of Gems and Minerals in the basement and, of course, the giant whale that hangs from the ceiling in the marine live exhibit. Take a walk through Central Park and end up at the Natural History Museum and fully embrace your inner kid. Plus, if you go on a weekday there will be tours of elementary school students who are actual kids! 
  5. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort StThis is one of the big art galleries in New York City and it’s worth taking a stroll down the High Line to check it out. It focuses on modern American art from the 20th and 21st centuries, including work from artists like Georgia O’Keefe and Edward Hopper. Consider going on a Friday night for free (but you do have to order tickets in advance)! 
  6. Pace Gallery, 540 W 25th St: Chelsea is filled with many galleries who are all free to enter and look at their exhibitions. These tend to be quicker visits - you don’t need more than a half an hour to an hour to see everything, but the exhibitions they curate are beautiful and it’s a good excuse to walk around a charming neighbourhood while appreciating some gorgeous art. 
  7. Museum of Modern Art, 11 W 53rd StA classic for a reason, the MoMA has some of the most famous modern artwork in the world, from a whole room filled by Claude Monet’s Waterlilies to The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Their exhibitions are often wonderful too, and their gift store is fun to just take a look around - if I had an unlimited budget, I would be buying everybody’s presents there. 
  8. Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, Pier 86, W 46th StThis is one for the ISP students, or anyone who was excited by space as a child. Take a walk by the river until you see a giant retired warship and then hop aboard to explore an American military and maritime history museum. A slightly different subject matter from many of the other recommendations, but a fun change of pace to perhaps complement some SIPA students’ studies! 

There are so many more museums and galleries worth checking out, but these are some of the ones I’ve most enjoyed these past two years. Happy exploring!