The Memorable Classics of the Best of New York: Theatres, Museums, & Arts

Oh my… New York!

As a travel blogger, it could be hard to talk about New York in one blog post, just because the city, seriously, has so many to cover.

First of all, New York is the center stage of the world. People from all around the world, the artists, designers, performers, creators, and entrepreneurs alike, come to New York to launch their dreams. An end result, New York is the place to showcase their new ideas: trendy stores, innovative labels, fashion boutiques, technology flagships, and celebrity restaurants, pop up here and there all across town. Every time you come to New York you see something new, something different. Even frequent visitors might feel a little bit overwhelmed had they not been prepared or done their research, not to mention first-timers! For me, the rule of thumb is to set a plan, design an itinerary, and make reservations at places you plan to go to, especially if you want to try a new restaurant.

Secondly, New York is a dynamic and diverse world city. The metropolitan captures both old and new, trendy and classic, high-end and low-end, exciting and relaxing… Anyone from anywhere could have their own unique taste of New York. Take a stroll in the many city ethnic enclaves, where you could almost be immersed in a different world. Explore the many art and history museums and experience the melting pot of culture, history, and people. I promise you would see and feel something that you have never seen before.

Third of all, New York is filled with memorable classics. For first-timers, it is exciting to explore the hip and “right-now” sights in the city, but I would say, don’t forget to discover the must-see city classicism too. Yes, New York has been featured in many television shows, movies, novels, literature, photography, video games, and many more – making a visit to New York a dream for people all around the world. These iconic places represent a moment that left in the audience’s mind. Remember Breakfast at Tiffany’s, King Kong, the Day after Tomorrow, Sex and the City, Saturday Night Fever, Ghostbusters, just to name a few. Your first trip in New York won’t be completed without seeing some of these classics.

I categorized these classics into groups. Now, in the next part of this series, I am highlighting the monuments, squares, and plazas. of course, if you think there are any more “city classics” that should be included on this list, feel free to leave a comment so I can add them in. You are also welcome to share your personal favorites in the comment section, I am looking forward to hearing what you think!

What to See the Best of New York: Architecture and Parks,  Theatres, Museums & Art, or Monuments and Squares.

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is on the side of Central Park and it’s one of the most important and largest art museums in the world. It is a treasure chest of art where art lovers could find masterpieces basically from all over the world. The museum is divided into numerous sections that make it almost impossible to complete in a day!

The museum houses one of the largest classical art collections in the world, thanks to Gilded Age barons who brought them to Europe for the edification of the city. More than some  European great names in classical art like Botticelli (Italy), Rembrandt, Vermeer, van Gogh (Netherlands), Degas, Rodin (France), and Albrecht Dürer (Germany), the museum offers a lot of hidden treasures from all around the world and visitors might be pleasantly surprised. For example, the Temple of Dendur, a gift from Egypt; the Carroll and Milton Petrie Sculpture Court (where can host a banquet…!?); the Medieval Court, the original free-standing building of the museum; the Beaux-Arts Bronze Lampposts and the Facade of the Branch Bank (originally in Wall Street) in the Charles Engelhard Court… and so much more!

Explore the museum, as a kid Here!

The Carroll and Milton Petrie Sculpture Court, featuring Perseus with the Head of Medusa.
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Temple of Dendur. The Temple of Dendur was completed by 10 B.C. It Took 10 Years to Move the Temple of Dendur to New York City.
This colossal sphinx portrays the female pharaoh Hatshepsut with the body of a lion and a human head wearing a nemes–headcloth and false beard.

Where the sphinx is from? Check out A Perfectly Fascinating 2-day Itinerary in Luxor

Medieval Court with the Choir Screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid, grille from Valladolid is a unique example of such work outside Spain.
The Met collection of arms and armor is a modern one, formed through the activities and interests of curators, trustees, private collectors, and donors over the world.

The Met - 5

There was video footage released earlier in the news to destroy the ancient city Nimrud in Iraq, what a shame! The militants hammered, bulldozed, and ultimately blew up parts of the ancient Iraqi Assyrian city of Nimrud… A site dating back to the 13th century B.C.!!

Now I revisit the history of this historical site the only way to find the artifacts which are now safely remained and showed in different museums around the world. One of the sites is the Met – Human-Headed Winged Lion. Thankfully, these treasures would be kept safe, but far away for the people in the future to learn about this ancient civilization…

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Human-Headed Winged Lion from the ninth to the seventh century B.C., the kings of Assyria ruled over a vast empire centered in northern Iraq.

Museums worldwide with Nimrud material (Total 76!):

Alexander McQueen… 

As a side note, I was once there and there was also the time I visited Alexander McQueen’s exhibition – Savage Beauty. It was one of the most unforgettable and core-shaking exhibitions that I have seen in recent years. The emotions were not coming from the thrilling or stimulating exhibits; as I walked through the 6 exhibition halls, step by step I felt a rush of excitement came over my body, just like the theme – A savage pursuit and worship of beauty, so strong and violent that you were completely overwhelmed….

The exhibition was showing again @ V&A London in 2015, and I hope it will again rerun for the world to see.

2. Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

There are quite a lot of “Museum of Modern Art” in the world, the Museum of Modern Art, literally the queen of the MoMA’s, is located in Midtown Manhattan. It is one of the largest and most influential art museums of modern art and they have been supporting the preservation and education of contemporary art for almost 90 years.

2. Museum of Modern Art 3For tourists, the museum is offering a feast for the eyes as it housed an abundant of widely-recognized modern artworks in modern art history, including g Picasso’s Cubism “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, van Gogh’s Post-impressionism “The Starry Night”, one of Monet’s Impressionism Water Lilies painting, Jackson Pollock’s Abstract Expressionism “One: Number 31”, Henri Matisse’s Fauvism “Dance(I)” (and the other “Dance” painting is in the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg!), Andy Warhol’s Pop Art “Campbell’s Soup Cans”, and Dali’s Surrealism “The Persistence of Memory”… The list goes on and on.

The MoMA’s Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden is an outdoor courtyard of the museum and I think it’s a haven for the urban people to just unwind, relax… and appreciate art in the middle of the Manhattan concrete jungle.

One Hour Highlights: Concentrate on a particular collection – see the floor plan to find galleries devoted to painting and sculpture, architecture and design, photography, and more – or explore a special exhibition in depth. If the weather is nice take a stroll through the sculpture garden.

Two Hours and Explore: Sample the entire Museum from top to bottom. Take time to join a gallery conversation, see a film, dine in a cafe, and browse at the MoMA stores. Stop by an information desk or consult MoMA guide to help plan your day.

MoMA has an IPhone app that gives instant access to works in the collection, the Museum’s program, and event calendar, artists, audio tours, and more.

6. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

It is usually referred to as The Guggenheim, as it’s one of the oldest art museums in the city, rather close to the Met. The museum focuses on its collection of contemporary art, especially from impressionists and post-impressionists throughout the years. The museum has a permanent collection exhibit and also hosts temporary modern art exhibitions, one of my favorite paintings would be Vassily Kandinskys Composition 8 – this painting actually opened my eyes to contemporary art, especially Impressionism the first time.

The Thannhauser Gallery, located on Annex Level 2, showcases a bequest of 19th and early 20th-century art given to the museum by Justin K. and Hilde Thannhauser.

While the Thannhauser founded the Morderne Galerie in Munich in 1909, they eventually settled in New York in 1940 and, together with his second wife, Hilde, established himself as a private art dealer. The Thannhausers’ commitment to promoting artistic progress paralleled the vision of Solomon R Guggenheim. In appreciation of this shard spirit, Justin K. Thannhauser gave a significant portion of his art collection, including over 30 works by Picasso, to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1963. From 1965 until Thannhauser’s death in 1976, when his collection formally entered the Guggenheim’s holdings, the Thannhauser Collection was on long-term loan to the museum. A bequest of then additional works received after Hilde’s death in 1991 enhanced the legacy of this family of important art dealers. Perhaps more than any other 20th-century painter, Kandinsky has been closely linked to the history of the Guggenheim Museum. Hilda Rebay – artist, art advisor, and the museum’s first director – promoted nonobjective painting above all other forms of abstraction. The museum’s holdings have grown to include over 150 works by Kandinsky, and focused exhibitions of these works are presented in the Kandinsky Gallery located on Annex Level 3.

The modern and sleek design of the museum is also widely recognized by the world. The hallway is actually a continuous platform that spirals down the ground floor, making the entire viewing experience fluid and smooth.

3. New Museum

New Museum of Contemporary Art

3. New Museum 2The museum is rather “new” considering it was established 40 years ago and it’s located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (a.k.a. Soho). It’s among the few museums worldwide exclusively devoted to presenting international contemporary art from around the world, and that’s why it’s called “New”.  It is a center for exhibitions, information, and documentation about living artists whose work did not yet have wide public exposure or critical acceptance.  The founder and curator had neither personal resources nor a collection, just abundant resourcefulness and a passion for living culture.

The museum doesn’t have a permanent exhibition but rather it hosts a number of themed exhibitions in different art forms from paintings, installations, photos, and more. The building that I visited was opened in 2007, while the museum originated from a one-room office on Hudson Street in 1977. Now, the museum has an important and influential legacy and mission to keep breaking new ground.

Visit the Sky Room, which it opens to the public on the weekends unless it was booked for a private event. It has a nice outdoor terrace which offers a panoramic view from Manhattan’s Midtown all the way down to the lower Manhattan.

High Line Park / Whitney Museum of American Art

8. Whitney Museum of American Art

Ever since the High Line is opened it has been praised that the restoration of an old elevated train track to a park is such a brilliant idea. The park is an aerial greenway that stretches from the Madison Station to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District. The walkway offers great views of the Hudson River and it has several attractions along with the naturalized planting. Today’s park has become a great recreation site for locals and tourists.

Known as the “Whitney”, the Whitney Museum of American Art may be less recognizable to the others mentioned above. The museum, however, focuses on 20th and 21st-century American art. The museum was originally located on Madison Avenue and then moved to the South Entrance of the High Line in 2014, the building is now leased by the Met and known as the “Met Breuer” as part of the Met. Whitney was founded by an art collector Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, who believed in supporting living artists, from celebrated pioneers to the latest innovators. She has quite an impressive collection of American art. Artists like Edward Hopper were the precursor to the Whitney. Other paintings in the permanent collection include George Bellows’s “Dempsey and Firpo”, Joseph Stella’s “The Brooklyn Bridge”, George Tooker’s “The Subway”, and more. Many of these artworks showcased American life in the 21st century as if it was a museum of history.

Today, the museum continues the founder’s tradition by presenting a mix of special exhibitions and installation of works from the collection.

5. American Museum of Natural History

American Museum of Natural History

While many of the museums that I love are art museums, the American Museum of Natural History is all about nature that people of all ages could enjoy and learn. If you have watched the movie “Night at the Museum”, you would know how big the museum is. In fact, it is one of the largest museums in the world! Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan across Central Park from the Met, the museum comprises 28 interconnected buildings with 45 permanent exhibition halls that showcase the history, science, and knowledge of… basically, everything on the earth from the past to present, and it even explored outer space. From humans, mammals, insects, birds, sea life… to fossils, dinosaurs, mummies, and space. The life-like animal exhibits in the Milstein Hall and Akeley Hall of Mammals and  Indians exhibit were very interesting and they piqued my interest to learn more about their history and culture I recommend catching a space show at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, I was totally wowed by the spectacular visual effect from the giant Hayden Sphere!

Lincoln Center

The reflection of the city from the Metropolitan Opera House.

Lincoln Center is one of the city’s leading performing arts centers.

The center covers a 16.3-acre in area, and the complex of buildings holds numerous world-class events. It was built between 1955 and 1969, and I admire the design of the David H. Koch Theater, the Metropolitan Opera House, and David Geffen Hall, and the Revson Fountain – they are the focal point of the center,

the center is home to 12 resident arts organizations. Check out the schedule to catch a show (could be a ballet, an opera, or a concert) or take a walk in the complex, it’s a stone’s throw away from Central Park.

10. Broadway

Broadway

If you love theatres, then you have to catch a show in the theatre district. The Broadway theatres and located in the district along Broadway, nearby Times Square. There are 41 professional theatres and a number of musicals showing all year round, while “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic Theatre and “Cats” at the New London Theatre, “Chicago”, and “The Lion King” are some of the longest-running Broadway musicals, new ones like “Kinky Boots” (and the theatre is located on 45th street, in the Hell’s kitchen 😛 – a.k.a. Clinton, a neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan from 34th to the 59th Street) are also very popular, too!

10. Broadway 2

Radio City Music Hall

Talking about the Radio City Music Hall, you must know about the Rockettes. The Rockettes are a precision dance company founded in 1925 in St Louis. Since 1932, they have performed at Radio City Music Hall near the Rockefeller Center in Midtown and the venue became the headquarter of the company. There are a variety of dance performances throughout the year, and the Rockettes were known for their kickline and eye-high kicks.

Not only may catch a show in the hall, but a stage hall tour is also available for visitors to find out all of the behind-the-scenes details about the hall and learn about the performers that have graced the stage.

What to See the Best of New York: Architecture and Parks,  Theatres, Museums & Art, or Monuments and Squares.

7. Radio City Music Hall

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