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Showcasing The Past: Top 10 Historical NYC Museums

Showcasing The Past: Top 10 Historical NYC Museums

Picture of Henry Lilly
Updated: 12 December 2015
New York City is full of history and culture. The Culture Trip brings to light some of the most compelling and educational museums in New York. Here, we present a comprehensive guide to ten outstanding historical museums in NYC, exploring some of the oldest and most authentic landmarks in the country.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

Want to step back in time in midtown Manhattan? The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden does exactly that. This colonial style home was built as a carriage house in 1779, and converted into the Mount Vernon Hotel in 1826. The stone museum rests on land originally owned by John Adams’ daughter, Abigail Adams Smith. The transition into a hotel was made to provide New Yorkers a nearby escape from the commotion of the city. While it is still located in Manhattan, this beautiful property is a great way to enjoy nature and return to an important era in New York City’s history.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden, 421 E 61st St, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 838 6678

New York Historical Society

One of America’s most distinguished cultural institutions, the New York Historical Society is devoted to revealing how history can influence the world today. Recognized for many prominent exhibits, some of their most esteemed have been Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America, Slavery in New York, and WWII & NYC. Nearly 70 years older than the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Historical Society is the oldest museum in New York. Head on over and immerse yourself in one of New York City’s cultural gems.

New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY, USA, +1 212 873 3400

The Cloisters

A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters is a museum and garden dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Labeled a ‘medieval treasure of northern Manhattan,’ this designated New York City landmark contains approximately 2,000 pieces of art. The building itself is a combination of elements from other medieval sites in Europe, expertly arranged in chronological order. A beautiful structure with bountiful gardens overlooking the Hudson River, The Cloisters never disappoints.

The Cloisters, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 923 3700

Image Courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Image Courtesy of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Founder, historian and social activist Ruth Abram wanted a site to honor America’s immigrants and did exactly that. Truly a moving place, the Tenement Museum was an actual tenement home to approximately 7,000 immigrants during the 19thcentury. There are guided tours available both of the tenement itself, and of the neighborhood as well. Visitors immerse themselves into the humble beginnings of many of America’s families, making for a powerful experience. Come and find out what it really was like to start a life from scratch in a foreign country.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 431 0233

© Daderot/WikiCommons
© Daderot/WikiCommons

American Museum of Natural History

Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has remained one of the world’s leading scientific research and cultural centers. The museum is continually improving their global mission to, ‘discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.’ A great place for all ages, the museum has dozens of exciting and eye-opening exhibits that will leave you in disbelief. There are six self-guided tours, four food courts and restaurants, as well as four gift shops. Come enjoy an afternoon at this beautiful museum and learn about space, spiders and everything in between.

American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street
, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 769 5100

© Jim Linwood/Flickr
© Jim Linwood/Flickr

Intrepid Sea, Air And Space Museum

Having served tours of duty in both WWII and the Vietnam War, the Intrepid is now a national historic landmark resting in the Hudson River. The Intrepid Museum is the sea, air and space museum on the legendary aircraft carrier, featuring 28 restored aircrafts, the world’s first space shuttle, the world’s fastest spy and jet plane, and lastly, the world’s fastest commercial aircraft. The mission of the museum is to advance the awareness and understanding of history, science and service through hands-on exposure to its exhibitions. Truly a special sight, head on over to the Intrepid Museum and show your appreciation for America’s successful military.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86 West 46th Street and 12th Avenue, New York, NY, USA, + 1 212 245 0072

Merchant’s House Museum

Built 183 years ago, the Merchant’s House Museum was originally a home for the wealthy Tredwell family for almost 100 years. A national historical and New York City landmark, the house became a museum in 1936 and has remained so since its inception. The beautiful red-brick house has been fully restored to its original form, and has a collection of over 3,000 items previously owned by the Tredwell’s. This beautiful 19th century home is the perfect way to learn about the culture and lives of the wealthy merchant class, in a cheap and convenient way.

Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East 4th Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 777 1089

Anne Frank Center USA

Started in 1959, The Anne Frank Center USA is a ‘non-sectarian, non profit educational organization.’ The Anne Frank Center uses Anne Frank’s diary as a tool to enlighten the world not only about Anne’s legacy, but also about the harmful effects of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination. The Center’s programs and exhibitions inspire the world with Anne Frank’s heroic efforts during WWII, and help mold a world based on equal rights. Come and appreciate all that Anne Frank did and learn how we can make the world a better place. Tickets never exceed $8.

The Anne Frank Center USA, 44 Park Place, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 431 7993

© Paulm27/WikiCommons
© Paulm27/WikiCommons

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

Go to the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration and relive the moments millions of immigrants experienced. Perhaps one of the most important islands in American history, this small piece of land admitted about 12 million immigrants during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The museum tells the tales of families from all over the world, both why they left for America, and how they made their living upon arrival. There is no shortage of culture here as the museum offers the exhibits in different languages, has inscriptions of all the families who came through Ellis Island, and has an unbeatable view of New York harbor.

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, Jersey City, NJ, USA, + 1 212 363 3200

© Urban/WikiCommons
© Urban/WikiCommons

Federal Hall National Memorial

The Federal Hall National Memorial is a must see. The birthplace of American government, this is the location where George Washington was inaugurated as this country’s first president, and was the original site of the United States federal government. Talk about culture! This is as close as you can get to the nation’s capital, without being in Washington, D.C. You can go and walk around on your own time or join in on a free tour. Head on down to Wall Street and learn about the beginnings of the best country in the world.

Federal Hall National Memorial, 26 Wall Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 825 6990

By Henry Lilly

A political science major, Henry is a rising sophomore at Holy Cross. He plays lacrosse but loves all types of sports. Henry is back in New York, excited to add value to the NYC cultural experience, and is from Westchester County. He is always open to meeting new people and trying new things.