How to plan a visit to NYC’s Museum of Modern Art

Have an unforgettable visit to NYC’s MoMA with this guide’s tips, must-sees, and other essential information.

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Paul Jebara

Paul Jebara is a third culture kid and seasoned journalist and photographer covering travel, design, architecture, and style. His contributions can be seen across a host of international lifestyle publications, including Condé Nast Traveler, Architectural Digest, Forbes, and more.

Within the constellation of New York City’s elite cultural venues, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) shines brightly among the top echelon. It's one of the best art museums in NYC, boasting an impressive collection of over 150,000 pieces from modern and contemporary art luminaries such as Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, and Andy Warhol, and is globally celebrated as a beacon of artistic breakthroughs.

Whether it’s the emotive draw of impressionism or the striking contrast of contemporary works that captivates you, MoMA’s carefully selected collection — of art, architecture, design, and beyond — ensures a deeply engaging visit. Here’s your guide to maximizing your experience when you visit MoMa.

Best MoMA experiences

MoMA at a glance

Suggested duration: Spend at least 3 hours to fully immerse yourself in the art and atmosphere.
Best time of day to visit: Arrive between 10:30 AM and 1 PM for a quieter, more personal experience.
Must-sees at the POI:

Facts:

  • Established in 1929
  • Houses over 150,000 works of modern and contemporary art
  • Attracts around 3 million visitors annually
  • MoMA’s architecture itself is a work of art designed by architects Yoshio Taniguchi and Philip Goodwin

Opening hours:

  • Sunday to Friday: 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM
  • Saturday: 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM
  • Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Address: 11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

Why is MoMA worth visiting?

  • Iconic collection: MoMA hosts an unrivaled collection of modern masterpieces, including works by Picasso, Warhol, and Van Gogh, making it a treasure trove for art lovers.
  • Architectural marvel: The museum’s innovative design and the Sculpture Garden offer a unique spatial experience that enhances the art it houses.
  • Cultural hub: As a center of art, ideas, and dialogue, MoMA offers a dynamic calendar of exhibitions, film screenings, and educational programs.

What to see at MoMA

  • Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”: An emblematic masterpiece that captures the night sky’s swirling energy.
  • Salvador Dalí’s “The Persistence of Memory”: A surreal depiction that challenges our perceptions of time.
  • Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies”: A tranquil series that epitomizes Impressionism and its exploration of light and color.
  • The Sculpture Garden: An open-air gallery featuring sculptures by Picasso, Rodin, and more.
  • The Architecture and Design Collection: Showcasing the impact of design on everyday life through objects, furniture, and more.

Best time to visit MoMA

  • Best times of year: Spring and fall are ideal, offering pleasant weather and moderate crowds.
  • Best times of day: Mornings are typically less crowded. New York residents can take advantage of free entrance on UNIQLO Free Friday Nights, though it’s busier.
  • Special exhibitions: Some exhibitions may warrant an advance booking. Check MoMA’s website for the latest schedules and plan your visit accordingly.

photo by: Aurelien Guichard

Tips for visiting MoMA

Are MoMA guided tours worth it?

Absolutely. For both art novices and aficionados, MoMA’s guided tours are a fantastic investment. They offer a deeper dive into the stories behind the art and artists that a self-guided visit might miss. Plus, it’s a unique opportunity to engage with art experts and ask questions in real time.

Are MoMA skip-the-line tickets worth it?

Yes, they are a game-changer. MoMA attracts millions of visitors annually, making it one of New York City’s most visited museums. Skip-the-line tickets provide a hassle-free entry, saving you time that’s better spent admiring masterpieces rather than standing in line. Especially during peak visiting hours and busy seasons, these tickets can significantly enhance your museum experience. Purchasing a skip-the-line ticket in advance or becoming a MoMA member provides expedited entry.

Are there different entrances for MoMA?

MoMA primarily uses its main entrance at 11 West 53rd Street. However, for special exhibitions or events and during peak times, additional entrances might be utilized to manage visitor flow. It’s always a good idea to check MoMA’s official website or your ticket details for any specific entry instructions on the day of your visit. Also, MoMA PS1, as a separate branch, has its own entrance for visitors exploring contemporary artworks.

What are the dining options like?

From the sleek elegance of Michelin-starred The Modern to the laid-back vibes of Cafe 2 and the scenic snacking at Terrace 5, there’s a flavor for every art lover. Each is an extension of your MoMA experience, blending artful surroundings with equally artful cuisine.

How to get to the MoMA

  • By subway: Take the E or M trains to 53rd Street station at Fifth Avenue, or D or F trains to 47-50th Street/Rockefeller Center station, for a short stroll to MoMA.
  • By bus: The M1, M2, M3, M4, or M5 buses drop you off at 53rd Street, just a few steps from an art-filled day.
  • MoMA’s two branches: Your ticket grants access to both the main MoMA location in Midtown Manhattan and MoMA PS1 in Queens, offering a comprehensive view of modern and contemporary art.

Accessibility

MoMA is fully accessible to visitors with mobility impairments, featuring wheelchair-friendly facilities, elevators to all floors, free wheelchair loans, ample seating, and accessible restrooms to ensure a comfortable and inclusive experience for everyone.

FAQs

Can I take photos at MoMA?

Yes, personal photography is allowed, but leave the flash and tripods at home.

Is there free wi-fi at MoMA?

Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the museum, allowing you to access the MoMA app, share your experience in real time, or look up information about the artwork as you go.

Is there an audio guide available at MoMA, and how can I access it?

Yes, MoMA offers an audio guide that enriches your visit with insights into the artwork and artists featured in the museum. The audio guide is available through MoMA’s free mobile app, which can be downloaded to your personal device, providing a convenient and informative way to explore the museum at your own pace.

Can children visit MoMA, and are there activities for them?

MoMA is very welcoming to visitors of all ages, including children. The museum offers family-friendly activities, interactive spaces like the Art Lab, and family guides to engage younger visitors with the art. Admission for children under 16 is free, making it an educational and affordable destination for families.

Does MoMA have a gift shop?

The MoMA Design Store is an exhibition of cutting-edge design and innovation. Here, every item — from avant-garde kitchen gadgets to sleek furnishings and artist-inspired collectibles — tells a story of design’s impact on our everyday lives. It’s your chance to take a piece of MoMA’s visionary spirit home.

[HEADER IMAGE CREDIT] Bradley Weber. Some rights reserved