On Friday, out-of-towners will start pouring into New York City for America’s annual spectacle of beer and aggression—the Super Bowl. But before watching the Seattle Seahawks face off against the Denver Broncos, get a little culture—and a little more zen—by checking out one of New York City’s best assets: its museums.
Even if you’re not a true art aficionado, the city’s museums are a great place to experience a wide selection of the great things Manhattan is known for: the food, the culture, and the history. From trend-setting apps and boozy tours to amazing restaurants, you’re sure to make your trip even more exciting.
Appreciating the Art:
The Museum of Modern Art was one of the first museums to introduce their own iPhone App—complete with audio guides. It took a while for people to catch on, but it has now set the standard for the museum guides of the future. Sayonara, archaic headset devices. If you are looking for something guaranteed to cut through the professional jargon and give you a more simplistic explanation of the artworks you’re seeing, then go for the unofficial MoMA: Unadulterated audio guide. Employing “experts from kindergarten to fifth grade,” it is sure to cause some chuckles.
If you’re not a big fan of museums but still want to take in some culture, then Museum Hack is the perfect way to pregame the Super Bowl. This unofficial group tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art not only focuses on museum highlights, but also promises “some of the strangest, wildest, sexiest stories hidden throughout the museum.” Since the group has no affiliation with the Met and rumors are that they encourage stealthily boozing, we can almost guarantee that this will be one of your favorite museum experiences. Our fingers are crossed that they will expand to other museums soon.
New York is home to some of the greatest restaurants in the world, some of which can be found right in the equally vaunted museums. If a day acting cultured leaves you famished, there is no need to waste time looking for a “local” spot or schlepping to the underwhelming Carnegie Deli. Enjoy gourmet (and sometimes experimental) foods while surrounded by great art and design atRobert at the Museum of Art and Design (which also features a great view of Central Park), The Modern at MoMA and M. Wells Dinette at MoMA’s PS1 (which receive the best Zagat ratings), or The Wright at the Guggenheim.
A little off-the-beaten path is Café Sabarsky, one of the many Austrian-inspired outposts of heralded chef Kurt Gutenbrunner, at the Neue Galerie. Staying true to the theme of the museum, this restaurant is covered with early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design including light fixtures by Josef Hoffmann, furniture by Adolf Loos, and banquettes upholstered with 1912 Otto Wagner fabric, all of which turns this one-time 5th Avenue townhome into a remarkably beautiful exhibition space. Afterwards, you can make your way upstairs to see paintings by Klimt, Schiele, and Kandinsky, as well as designs by Breuer and van der Rohe. The café also frequently transforms into an entertainment space with regular cabaret, chamber, and classical music performances. Mostly locals frequent the Neue Galerie so it’s a great escape from the throngs of tourists.
Get a Deal and Avoid the Masses:
Unlike their brothers in the nation’s capital, most New York museums do not afford visitors the luxury of free admission. But some do let you name your own price with a “suggested donations” entry fee. A wide range also has deals like free admission on certain days of the week or during certain times of the day. But, these come with another price—long lines and large crowds. For the best of both worlds, try the New York CityPASS, which allows you to visit multiple museums for one low price—six attractions for around a hundred bucks. This deal may sound a little better than it is, since two of the four museums included are “pay what you wish” on their own.
If you’re a fan of contemporary art, the Chelsea galleries are a great, free alternative to the traditional museum day. There are dozens of separate galleries within a few blocks of each other, and most of them represent some of the biggest artists in the world. Sure, you won’t see the major exhibitions happening at the big institutions, but you’ll gain knowledge of some of the best artists of today without the crowds. You might even stumble upon some museum-worthy shows.
Best Bang For Your Buck:
Overall, the Museum of Modern Art is going to give you the most for the price of admission. Not only will you get entry to one of the most significant Modern Art collections in the world, but also to one of the strongest international film collections in the U.S.. Four separate films are screened daily, ranging from 1920s classics to new releases, so make sure to check the schedule on your visit. Free admission to MoMA PS1—the contemporary art outpost—is also included, as well as gallery talks and convenient proximity to two of the city’s top restaurants, The Modern and M. Wells.