10 Open-Air Museums, Exhibitions & Installations In New York City

The National September 11 Memorial | © Bryce Edwards/Flickr
The National September 11 Memorial | © Bryce Edwards/Flickr
Photo of Sean Scarisbrick
9 January 2017

Even in the cold weather, open-air installations are never out of season. They allow visitors to interact with nature; whether you’re a history buff or an art aficionado. These are some of New York City’s must-visit open-air museums, exhibitions, and installations.

11 Memorial

Memorial, Museum
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Inside the September 11th Memorial in New York City
Inside the September 11th Memorial in New York City | ©Anthony Quintano
New York will never forget those who tragically passed on September 11th, 2001, and the National 9/11 Memorial is a tribute to everyone who lost their lives in both the 1993 and 2001 attacks. The Memorial features two enormous reflecting pools designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. Water flows down the sides of the memorial into the void at the center. Along the outside, the names of the victims are inscribed in remembrance.

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum

Museum
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It’s rocket science, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Stop by the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to learn about science and history. The Intrepidis an aircraft that was used in World War II and the Vietnam War, and it became a National Historic Landmark in 1982. The museum also features Enterprise, a space shuttle that began the U.S. space program. The museum has a ton of ground-breaking items, each with a rich history worth exploring.

New York Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden, Museum, Zoo, Park
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Bronx Zoo_2015 05 24_0132
Bronx Zoo_2015 05 24_0132 | © Harvey Barrison/Flickr
What’s more open-air than a garden? Head over the New York Botanical Garden and move across 250 acres to see, smell, and touch nature. Get into the holiday spirit at the Holiday Train Show, a model train with 150 NYC landmarks that have been beautifully recreated using natural materials. For those interested in learning about gardening and design, take a class guaranteed to help you make the best of nature this holiday season.

Historic Richmond Town

Museum, Building, Church, School
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It’s time to go back a few centuries and explore Historic Richmond Town, an authentic Staten Island town that dates to the 1600s. Walk through the four historic sites and view artifacts, photographs, and archival material that explain the history of the area. Learn about how people lived in colonial America and the complex history of New York.

Socrates Sculpture Park

Park, Museum, Cinema, Market
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Couple viewing a contemporary art installation at Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Queens, New York.
Socrates Sculpture Park contains many works of art | © Lee Snider / Alamy Stock Photo
The Socrates Sculpture Park opened in 1986 as a space in New York to allow artists to express themselves in a large space. This outdoor space provides artists with the opportunity to display their works for the viewing public. The park currently features a billboard by Duke Riley called El Primero Desfile de San Patricio en la Habana, Cuba, a tribute to his heritage. The work combines American, Cuban, and Irish traditions in one complex image.

The Truth Is I See You

Art Gallery
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There’s so much to see when you walk down the streets of Brooklyn, and the Public Art Fund has made it even more intense. Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis’s exhibit, The Truth Is I See You, features speech bubbles in different forms. Two benches in this shape welcome sitters to look upon a metallic tree with word bubbles. There are also a number of word bubbles attached to lamp posts, snagging viewers’ attention with phrases that begin ‘The truth is…’. Featuring 22 different languages spoken in Brooklyn with English translations, Willis, in collaboration with Ryan Alexiev, has created an exhibit that makes you question what the truth really is.

Bronx Zoo

Zoo
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Travel around the world instantly by visiting the Bronx Zoo, crossing borders and continents by switching exhibits. Check out humankind’s cousin, the gorilla, at the Congo Gorilla Forest, an exhibit dedicated to teaching visitors about the lives of these majestic animals. Travel to Asia at Himalayan Highlands and watch snow leopards in this hilly exhibit. Take the kids and camera as you walk through the huge outdoor zoo to see exotic animals from around the world.