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A Visitors Guide to Museum Mile NYC
by Staff Writer

Museum Mile Highlights, Dining, Hotels, Discounts & Map

Museum Mile New York City

Museum Mile is located in the Carnegie Hill neighborhood on the Upper East Side, and is named for a concentrated group of museums along Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street (soon to be extended to 110th Street).  The area has a pleasant atmosphere, as Central Park lines one side of the street and artist street vendors are scattered about.  Before you visit Museum Mile, you'll certainly want to do a bit of research to prioritize your itinerary.  You may spend a couple hours at the smaller museums or the entire day at the larger ones, such as the Guggenheim or the Met.  Our brief descriptions will get you started; we will tell you generally about each museum's type of collections.  For details on rotating exhibits, as well as hours and admission fees, check the museum's website.  We've included a Museum Mile Map at the bottom of this article; our museum descriptions are ordered from north to south.


The Museums

El Museo del Barrio (104th Street).  This museum showcases Caribbean, Latino and Latin America cultures.  It first opened in 1969 and moved into its present location in 1977.  Its permanent collections include 6,500 pieces of work in the areas of modern and contemporary art, graphics, archeological objects and a category of "popular traditions", including wood carvings and masks.  El Museo del Barrio is closed Mondays and some holidays.

Museum of the City of New York (103rd Street).  This museum, dating back to 1923, is all about the art and history of New York City.  Housed in an elegant building, the MCNY features an extensive collection of paintings, photographs and artifacts illustrating the history of the city, a whole floor of recreated furnished rooms from the John D. Rockefeller home, an exhibit dedicated to the city's status as a seaport, exhibits for the New York police and fire departments and much more.  On Wednesdays at 2pm, you can participate in a docent-led tour. The Museum of the City of New York is open everyday except select holidays. 

Jewish Museum (92nd Street).  Housed in the Warburg mansion, the Jewish Museum has grown from 26 objects in 1904 to more than 27,000 objects today, ranging from archaeological finds to moderns works of art.  The exhibits are focused on Jewish art and culture, including paintings, sculptures, installation and decorative arts, media and more.  The Museum offers several theme-based docent-led tours; each about 45 minutes in duration.  Audio guides are also offered at no charge.  The Jewish Museum is open every day except select holidays.  Saturdays are free, but you will be limited to current and permanent exhibits (the store, cafe, interactive exhibits and children's exhibits are not open).

Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design (91st Street). 
NOTE: 
This museum is undergoing renovations and expects to reopen in 2014.
Some exhibits may be seen at other locations in the city.  See website for details.  Cooper-Hewitt is located in the former home of Andrew Carnegie, which is itself a New York City and National Historic Landmark.  It is the only museum in the United States dedicated solely to historic and contemporary design.  Founded in 1897, the international collection now consists of 250,000 objects in four categories:  Drawings, Prints & Graphic Design; Product Design and Decorative Arts; Textiles and Wallcoverings.  Cooper-Hewitt is part of the Smithsonian Institution.

National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts (89th Street).  The National Academy, founded in 1825, combines a museum, art school and association of artists and architects.  It is is housed in a Fifth Avenue mansion and features a collection of more than 7,000 works of 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century American art, as well as rotating special exhibits.  Docent-led tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30pm.  The Museum is closed Mondays, Tuesdays and select holidays.

Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum (88th Street).  The Guggenheim is an internationally acclaimed art museum with exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, particularly from the 20th and 21st centuries.  Today's extensive collection is comprised of significant gifts and purchases by a number of individuals and their foundations.  Approximately 600 artworks were gifted to the museum by Solomon Guggenheim himself, including works by Kandinsky, Chagall, Picasso and many more.  The museum building, a designated landmark, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright; it is of architectural importance.  You're sure to have seen the recognizable spiral ramp in various movies, including Bye Bye Birdie, Manhattan, Men in Black, The International, When in Rome and Mr. Popper's Penguins.  Both self-guided audio tours and docent-led tours are available.  The Museum is closed Thursdays.

Neue Galerie New York (86th Street).  The Neue Galerie New York museum features 20th century German and Austrian art and design.  Docent-led tours are offered Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays at 2pm.  Audio tours are also offered.  The Museum is closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and select holidays.

Metropolitan Museum of Art (82nd - 86th Street).  The founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dates back to 1866; this location on Fifth Avenue opened in 1880.  At that time, the museum was much smaller, but expansions have created what we have today, a colossal museum on 4 city blocks consisting of 2 million square feet and over 2 million objects (though not all on view at the same time!).  These works are grouped in several distinct departments, including the American Wing; Ancient Near Eastern Art; Arms & Armor; Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas; Asian Art; the Costume Institute; Drawings & Prints; Egyptian Art; European Paintings; European Sculpture & Decorative Arts; Greek & Roman Art; Islamic Art; the Robert Lehman Collection; Medieval Art & the Cloisters; Modern & Contemporary Art; Musical Instruments; and Photographs.  Check out the Met website for ideas for kids, teens and students visiting the Met.  The Museum is closed Mondays and a few holidays.

Museum for African Art (110th Street).  The Museum for African Art first opened in 1984, its new 90,000 square-foot facility on Museum Mile opened in the Fall 2012. The Museum is dedicated to the arts and cultures of Africa and Africans throughout the world, exhibiting historical and contemporary African Art.  Their permanent collection is small, as they focus on traveling exhibitions.  To date, the Museum has organized nearly 70 such traveling exhibitions.  Be sure to check their website for the projected opening date. 

Events

Since 1979, once a year in early June Fifth Avenue closes to traffic for one evening to accommodate the Museum Mile Festival, a highly attended and esteemed annual event.  The museums are open with no charge, there are interactive activities, entertainment, art demonstrations, special kids' activities and food vendors.

See the Map & Schedule of the 2012 Museum Mile Festival on Tuesday, June 12th.

Dining In/Around the Museums

Since you're likely to spend the entire day on Museum Mile, at some point you'll need to stop for a bite.  Nearly all of the museums offer dining opportunities, from a fast sandwich to an elegant meal, even ethnic specialties.  Some also offer breakfast/pastry items.  Cafe 3 at the Guggenheim features a great view of Central Park and the Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar provides panoramic views of Manhattan.  Within a block or so east of Museum Mile, you will find several restaurant options, from fast-food to elegant dining, as well as Starbucks at 96th Street and Madison Avenue, which may be just what you need to start the long day ahead. 

Make the Most of Your Visit

As you can imagine, Museum Mile is an incredible concentration of art and culture, sure to overload the senses. But with a little planning of priorities, you can make the most of your time, whether a few hours or a few days.  Do you have a certain ethnic interest?  Is modern art your fascination?  Perhaps you want a dose of pure New York history.  You'll find it all on Museum Mile.

Attractions Discount Passes

Check out the New York CityPass Attractions Card to save on a selection of NYC attractions and skip the long ticket lines. As many as four of the Museum Mile's museums are included in the various New York attractions discount cards.

Purchase a NY CityPass,
 includes Guggenheim Museum & Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Purchase a NYC Explorer Pass,
 includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Purchase a The New York Pass,
 includes Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art,
 Museum of City of NY & El Museo del Barrio.

Local Hotels

Check out the Hotels near the Museum Mile.

Official Website of Museum Mile NYC


Unofficial Web Site of Museum Mile

Map of NYC Museum Mile Attractions

Click on the marker on the map or on the name in the side listing for more info. The  map can provide directions along with the address of the point-of-interest. The map can be zoomed in or out, or repositioned by dragging it.


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