Frida Kahlo once said the reason she painted flowers was so they wouldn’t die. She made a fair point — great works of art have a timeless quality. Similarly, seeing a historical artifact up close is like being transported in a time machine. On the hunt for that next staycation? A trip to a museum is a sure-fire portal to a different time and place. In the U.S, there is no shortage of great days out exploring global art and history. Here are some of the best – according to GetYourGuide customers.
Whether it’s marveling at a Matisse or gazing at a Gauguin, there’s something for everyone at MoMa. From paintings and sculptures to photography and prints – you name it, it’s here. Yep, the Museum of Modern Art covers a fair bit of creative ground. And when you’ve seen it all – if that’s possible – head to the library. With around 300,000 books and exhibition catalogs, there’s plenty of reading material to keep you busy!
When the strain of modern life gets too much, take a plunge into classical antiquity. As you navigate the galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art – the Met – you’ll also traverse continents. From African, Asian and Oceanian art through Byzantine and Islamic pieces, it’s quite the journey. With over two million works, the Met is the largest art museum in the U.S. Just remember where the cafe is – you might need a coffee at the end!
A visit to the Guggenheim isn’t just worth it for the art collections. Being surrounded by its iconic architecture — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is a spectacle in itself. Frank Lloyd Wright’s modernist masterpiece is home to collections of impressionist, early modern and contemporary art. Yet just walking around the cylindrical building – conceived as a ‘temple of the spirit’ – is therapeutic enough. And with a skip-the-line ticket, you’ll be enjoying its meditative charm in no time.
American Museum of Natural History
If the kids are getting fidgety, a trip to AMNH is just the ticket. After all, dinosaur bones are usually enough to please the wriggliest youngsters. Yet with 34 million natural specimens within its collections, this is a museum for all ages. The American Museum of Natural History covers a whopping 2 million square feet across from Central Park. So, those dinosaurs have plenty of roaming space if they come back to life.
9/11 Museum and Memorial
The 9/11 Museum and Memorial is an unforgettable tribute to the tragic events of 2001. And its design is a careful balancing act of remembrance and hope. With authentic remnants of the World Trade Center alongside first-hand accounts, it’s a sobering experience. Yet take the time to admire the Survival Tree — which survived the attacks — and realise this is also a story of resilience.
Art Institute of Chicago
It’s hardly surprising it’s one of the most popular museums in the U.S. After all, it’s home to iconic pieces such as Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ and Wood’s ‘American Gothic’. With over 300,000 works, the Art Institute of Chicago has an encyclopedic collection. And the museum is an exhibit in its own right — it’s designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Renzo Piano.
Whitney Museum of American Art
Naming it the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (after its founder) would have been a tad wordy. So, it’s the Whitney. And that name has become synonymous with 20th and 21st-century American art. By that, we mean everyone from Georgia O’Keefe to Andy Warhol. Whether you’re passionate about Pop Art or mad about modernism, the Whitney has something for everyone.
Nashville: National Museum of African American Music
From gospel and blues through to hip-hop, the African-American contribution to modern music is endless. The NMAAM takes visitors on an epic musical journey. Exploring the African-American creation of — and impact on — fifty genres, it’s quite the ride. Artists as diverse as Little Richard and Ray Charles started in the Nashville music scene. So, the museum is in the ideal place to find your groove.
The USS Midway Museum
Visiting a museum needn’t mean studying dusty exhibits behind glass panes. One trip to the USS Midway Museum shows how immersive an experience it can be. It’s devoted to the U.S’ longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century – and you’re invited onboard! Along a self-guided audio tour, visitors can peek at the sleeping quarters, engine room, and flight control. All aboard!
New Orleans: The National WWII Museum
It started out life as a 56th-anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings. Since then, the National WWII Museum has become the ultimate guide to the American experience in the global conflict. So, why’s it in New Orleans? Well, that’s where the landing crafts for the 1944 invasion of Normandy, Higgins boats, were designed. Its mission – to make visitors ‘understand the price of freedom’ – is surely worth the ticket price.
Kennedy Space Center
Ever dreamed of being an astronaut? Then take one small step into the Kennedy Space Center — it’ll be a giant leap for you. Not only can you see the actual space shuttle Atlantis, but you might also meet a veteran NASA astronaut. Once you’ve got inspired for lift-off, get in the interactive simulator of a shuttle launch. You’ll be over the moon (figuratively speaking).