The Bronx Documentary Center, founded by former Magnum Photos New York cultural director Danielle Jackson and onetime New York Times war photographer Michael Kamber, exhibits photographs and shows documentary films—including rooftop screenings during the summer. Admission is free.
@The Studio Museum in Harlem in Harlem is an art museum dedicated to black artists, both local and worldwide, and to artwork revolving around black culture. The collection and exhibitions, consisting mostly of 19th- and 20th-century works, are vibrant, spirited and inspiring. The museum is also the home of an archive of works by James Van Der Zee, the legendary Harlem Renaissance photographer. (Free Sundays)
@El Museo del Barrio specializes in Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American art, the only museum in NYC with these Latino cultures at its core. El Museo hosts a series of cultural festivities, youth and educational programming and literary discussions. El Museo recently underwent an award-winning redesign, framing the museum with a sparkling glass facade and a spacious new courtyard. (Free every third Saturday of the month for Super Sabado)
If you’re looking for diversity, the BROOKLYN MUSEUM is the place to go. It houses a huge permanent collection categorized by culture, as well as visiting exhibitions from a wide variety of geographic locations and time periods. It’s situated next to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and visitors can purchase discounted passes that allow them to tour both in the same day. (First Saturday of the month [except Sept.], free 5–11pm)
@The Noguchi Museum is a celebration of the life of the artist Isamu Noguchi and the tremendous works he left behind. Noguchi’s beautiful and intriguing sculptures are made from a variety of materials, showing a great range of styles and skills. The museum provides a free guided tour at 2pm every day it is open. (First Friday of the month is Pay-What-You-Wish, 10am–5pm)
Watch history come alive at @Douglas Girton Richmond Town, a living history village that lets you experience colonial life firsthand. Walk through real restored homes and other buildings including a general store and a courthouse. The village also includes a museum with exhibits that portray many aspects of American life from the 1700s through today. (Free Fridays, 1–5pm)
THE NEW YORK HALL OF SCIENCE is NYC's only hands-on science and technology center. Discover more than 450 exhibits, workshops and special events, including Rocket Park Mini Golf, the award-winning 60,000-square-foot Science Playground and state-of-the-art 3-D Theater. NYSCI is easily accessible, just blocks from the 7 train with on-site parking also available. (Free Sept.–June on Fridays, 2–5pm, and Sundays, 10–11am)
THE MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE is the only institution in the US dedicated to the art, technology and social impact of film, television and digital media. It houses the nation's largest collection of moving image artifacts, screens hundreds of films annually and offers education programs. (Free Fridays, 4–8pm)
THE NEW YORK AQUARIUM remains a must-see destination on Coney Island's celebrated Boardwalk. Try to resist the playful charm of its seals, sea lions and walruses. Dare to get close to the shark tank. And see if you can catch the changing colors of Squirt, the mischievous Giant Pacific octopus. The aquarium is open on a partial basis while renovations continue through 2016. (Pay-What-You-Wish Fridays: summer, 4–6pm; fall–spring, 3–4:30pm)
@The Frick Collection is a beautiful mansion-turned-art museum, is the home of many traditional paintings, including works by a number of famous artists like Monet and Renoir. The Frick also hosts a concert series featuring new European musicians, which you can listen to for free from the beautiful garden courtyard (or purchase tickets if you’d prefer to see as well as hear the music). Note: children under 10 are not admitted. (Pay-What-You-Wish Sundays, 11am to 1pm)
Housed in one of the most iconic buildings in New York, THE SOLOMON R. GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM's collection is filled with prized pieces, including works from Picasso, Kandinsky and Miró. The Guggenheim always presents interesting and innovative exhibitions, and the museum’s layout is like no other, as visitors experience the artwork along a huge ramp that spirals up around the entire interior of the cylindrical building. (Pay-What-You-Wish Saturdays, 5:45 to 7:45pm)
THE CHILDREN'S MUSEUM OF MANHATTAN emphasizes early childhood education, creativity, health and world cultures. Through exhibits like Little West Side and Ancient Greece, lifestyle workshops, programs and performances, children have fun while learning about the world around them and how to take care of their bodies. Parents also come to a greater understanding about how children learn. (Free on the first Friday of the month, 5–8pm)
Founded by two friends with a shared passion, THE NEUE GALERIE New York pays homage to German and Austrian art from the early 20th century. The museum’s collection includes traditional fine art pieces as well as works from notable German art movements, most famously the Bauhaus movement. (Free on the first Friday of the month, 6–9pm)
John Davison Rockefeller III founded THE ASIA SOCIETY in 1956 to promote understanding between Americans and Asians, and the society’s small-but-sweet art collection opens visitors’ eyes to the aesthetic and technical accomplishments achieved in Asia between 1,000 B.C.E. and the 1800s. (Free Fridays, 6–9pm. Note: free Fridays are suspended during summer)
THE RUBIN MUSEUM OF ART is the premier museum in the West dedicated to showcasing the art of the Himalayas and the surrounding regions. The Rubin helps visitors explore and understand the artistic legacy of the region through its permanent collection and changing exhibitions, and through provocative public and educational programming, for which it has become well known. (Gallery admission is free Fridays, 6–10pm)
THE JAPAN SOCIETY: With its art exhibitions, films, performances, lectures, workshops and family programs, the society strives to bring a greater understanding of Japanese culture to America. Junzo Yoshimura, a prominent Japanese architect, designed the eye-catching building. (Free Fridays, 6–9pm)
INTERNATIONAL CENTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Through visiting exhibitions and a permanent collection of more than 100,000 photographs, both contemporary and historical, the International Center of Photography gives visitors glimpses of skillfully captured moments in time and exposes the extraordinary history of America’s favorite medium. (Pay-What-You-Wish Fridays after 5pm)
At @New-York Historical Society, the oldest museum in NYC, four centuries of history, heroes, legends, artifacts and art tell America's story from a local perspective. A massive collection, changing exhibits, talks and tours help visitors explore New York's fascinating past. (Fridays, pay-what-you-wish, 6–8pm)
THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART is the world's leading museum of 20th-century and contemporary art of the US. Focusing particularly on works by living artists, the Whitney is celebrated for presenting important exhibitions and for its renowned collection, which comprises over 19,000 works by more than 2,900 artists. The Whitney Biennial, the museum's signature exhibition, has become the most important survey of the state of contemporary art in the US. (Pay-What-You-Wish Fridays, 6–9pm)
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (free Fridays, 4–8pm): Forever at the forefront, MoMA is not only devoted to presenting the best in contemporary art, but also to promoting the understanding of modern art and expanding the definition of what is considered "art" in the first place. Whether it's showing you something you've never seen before, or showing you how to see something familiar in a new way, the MoMA is always an eye- and mind-opening experience.
MUSEUM OF CHINESE IN AMERICA (free Thursdays): This expansive museum in Chinatown uses oral histories, video, photographs and written documents to bring to life the experiences of this vibrant immigrant community. The museum’s dramatic home, designed by acclaimed architect Maya Lin, features bronze walls, reclaimed wood floors and a "journey wall" that describes the route each donor's family took to the United States.
The New Museum, which looks like a stack of boxes towering over the Bowery, is New York’s fresh face of contemporary art. The building itself is as much a work of contemporary art as the pieces inside. It has a chip on its shoulder but wears its heart on its sleeve. In addition to its novel exhibitions, the New Museum also hosts readings, performances, trivia nights and other events and programs that defy definition. (Pay-What-You-Wish Thursdays, 7–9pm)
MUSEUM OF ARTS AND DESIGN: Though it started as the American Crafts Museum, committed to the recognition of both the effort and beauty of handmade objects, MAD Museum has expanded on its original mission to include other kinds of design, including architecture and fashion. Still, its initial goals remain at the forefront: to connect people with artists, designers and craftspeople through the objects they create. (Pay-What-You-Wish Thursdays, 6–9pm; Pay-What-You-Wish KLM Fridays, 6–9pm)
@Queens Botanical Garden is a sprawling landscape flourishing with a wide array of plants. Reflecting the diverse nature of Queens itself, many of the garden's plants are of particular significance to various world cultures. The QBG also includes a delightful Fragrance Walk and a busy Bee Garden. (Free April through October on Wednesdays from 3 to 6pm and Sundays from 4 to 6pm. Free at all times November through March.)
THE STATEN ISLAND ZOO (free Wednesdays after 2pm) might not be the largest or most exotic zoo around (its nickname is the "biggest little zoo"), but it is highly educational and acclaimed for its Serpentarium, housing an extensive collection of rattlesnakes. The zoo also cares for many warm-blooded creatures, with more than 800 species in all.