9 NYC Museum Nights You Should Know

Kevin Whipple / © Culture Trip
Kevin Whipple / © Culture Trip
Photo of Katie Shine
9 April 2018

If a museum trip seems like an antiquated idea for a fun outing, take a moment to reconsider. Museums all across the Five Boroughs are taking liberties with their hours, access and events by remaining open late and drawing vibrant crowds long after 5 pm. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dance at The Guggenheim? Or sip a cocktail at the Met? Indulge your inner fantasy of exploring a cavernous museum at night and check out these New York City offerings.

MoMA | © Bit Boy/Flickr

Explore The MoMA

Art Gallery, Building, Museum, Opera House
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a symbol of the eccentric and boisterous personality that is New York City. Nestled on 53rd Street near 5th Avenue, this museum is bursting with peculiar artwork in all shapes, sizes and forms. From yelling clocks and hanging helicopters to the world renowned Rain Room exhibition, this imaginative museum is eye-catching to say the least. Though charging $25 for admission throughout the week, UNIQLO sponsors a Free Friday Nights program that allows anyone and everyone to experience the museum gratis.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Art Gallery, Building, Museum, School
Designed by American “starchitect” Frank Lloyd Wright, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is one of most respected institutions for modern and contemporary art in the world – not to mention a landmark of New York City architecture. Conceived of as an “inverted-ziggurat” and characterized by magnificent spirals, Wright’s design guides an entirely unique and expressive journey through the history of 20th and 21st century art. First opened to the public in 1959 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 2008, Wright’s iconic white masterpiece is one of Manhattan’s most photogenic design feats.

Brooklyn Museum

Museum, Ruins, School
Robert Gober, Untitled Leg. 1989 – 1990, 11 3/8 x 7 3/4 x 20” (28.9 x 19.7 x 50.8 cm) | Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Dannheiser Foundation,
Robert Gober, Untitled Leg. 1989 – 1990, 11 3/8 x 7 3/4 x 20” (28.9 x 19.7 x 50.8 cm) | Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the Dannheiser Foundation, | © 2014 Robert Gober.
The Brooklyn Museum is an exhilarating sight, inside and out, but often helps you avoid the mega-crowds of many Manhattan museums due to its Prospect Heights location. Exhibitions run the gamut from arresting Coney Island photographs to kid-pleasing Egyptian mummies, to local Williamsburg murals. Their wildly popular Target First Saturday events give first-time and return visitors plenty of time to explore the exhibitions from 5 to 11 pm on most Saturdays. Viewing Rodin sculptures before a tête à tête at the B Café is an ideal way to impress a Saturday night date.

The Rubin Museum of Art

Museum, Shrine
Chelsea has an abundant amount of entertainment options, from trendsetting art galleries to eclectic restaurants and watering holes, but its most intriguing option seamlessly combines art viewing, imbibing and noshing in one compact setting. Relatively new to the New York art scene, The Rubin rightfully brings attention to Asian art (especially Himalayan works) in its permanent collection. At its K2 Friday nights, browse Steve McCurry photographs, examine the elaborate face masks, and visit the Buddhist Shrine room after listening to legendary DJs and jazz performers. An Asian tapas spot, Café Serai is conveniently open from 6 to 10 pm on Friday evenings. To further cement its status as the place to be in Chelsea, the Rubin waives admission costs at K2 events.

New Museum

Museum, Store, Building, Cinema, Forest
This visually arresting newcomer to the contemporary museum scene towers seven stories high on the Bowery in the Lower East Side, offering an alternative option for modern art in Manhattan. The artists and media innovators featured at New Museum may not be instantly recognizable to visitors, but still provide an exciting, intriguing exploration into their work. Groundbreaking exhibits regarding Andra Ursuta and Pia Camil succeed temporary exhibitions on Jim Shaw and Wynne Greenwood. New Museum differentiates itself by being the first New York museum to display works by these accomplished but lesser-known artists. The galleries stay open late on Thursday nights until 9 pm, and also offer Intelligentsia coffee and Macaron Parlour treats at the appropriately named Hester Street Café.

Neue Galerie

Museum, Park
New York, NY, USA - Dec 24, 2020: Neue Galerie museum entrance dedicated to German and Austrian art at 86th St and Fifth Avenue
© Warren Eisenberg / Alamy Stock Photo
Neue Galerie is a jewel box of a museum secreted away on 5th Avenue’s Museum Mile. Focusing on 20th century German and Austrian art, the collection educates visitors on Otto Dix portraits and stunning Gustav Klimt pieces such as the world-renowned Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. An upcoming exhibition on the impact on Edvard Munch is bound to impress, but do not leave Neue Galerie without paying a visit to Café Sabarsky. This take on a traditional Viennese café provides breathtaking views of Central Park, coupled with gluhwein and sachertorte. First Fridays of the month offer free admission to the museum from 6 to 8 pm. Mark your calendars.

American Museum of Natural History

Museum, Park
Milstein Hall of Ocean Life | © Image courtesy of American Museum of Natural History
Even strangers to the Upper West Side are familiar with the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH)’s larger-than-life dinosaur and iconic blue whale. Come and visit these attractions in person, along with buzz-worthy temporary exhibitions covering everything from Cuban culture to rarely unveiled mummies. Whether you’re young or just young at heart, this historic purveyor of all-ages fun will speak to your sense of wonder.

The Museum of Arts and Design

Museum of Arts and Design is not simply an art museum. In addition to displaying cutting edge pieces of design, it is a living tribute to innovators and artists who display superb craftsmanship. Up-and-coming designers are a common theme here. Situated conveniently close to Columbus Circle, this refreshing museum experience can include access to works by Murano, Pucci, Wendell Castle and an insider look at the artistic process from workshop to final product. The doors stay open until 9 pm on Thursdays and Fridays, with Thursdays offering an appealing ‘Pay as you wish’ option.

The Morgan Library and Museum

Bookstore, Library, Market, Museum, Music Venue
Another stately building is approximately ten minutes from Grand Central. The Morgan Library & Museum is where financier J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) amassed a jaw-dropping private library, designed by the famous architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. Visitors can walk through Morgan’s original study and library where Renaissance art and early 20th century pseudo-Renaissance furnishings decorate the red velvet West Room study. Currently in the display cases are one of three Guttenberg Bibles (The Morgan has more copies of it than any other museum or library), a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the piano score of Stravinsky’s Firebird.Over the course of his career, the artist Matisse collaborated on over 50 book projects. The books, hand-made mock-ups, sketches, and abandoned ideas provide further appreciation of the Fauvist virtuoso’s technical abilities at the library. A list of public programs for children and adults can be found here. The Morgan Café also has great coffee and a friendly staff.

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