The grand stretch of Fifth Avenue from 105th Street to 82nd Street is stunning in its own right. Central Park to one side and pristine mansions to the other side. Add some of the world’s most famous museums sprinkled along the way? Welcome to the Museum Mile!
Start at 105th Street with El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Avenue) to learn about Puerto Rican, Caribbean and Latin American cultures through art. This museum has gone through a complete renovation over the past number of years and has a bird’s eye view of the Conservatory Garden just across the street. Stop into El Cafe for a number of tasty Latin dishes!
Heading south, just next door, visit the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue). Learn about the city’s continuing transformation and diversity from the past to the present and beyond. The museum’s permanent collection includes approximately 750,000 objects like Eugene O’Neill’s manuscripts and Duncan Phyfe furniture along with the Carrie Walter Stettheimer dollhouse. Chalsty’s Cafe serves salads, sandwiches and hot and cold drinks.
The Jewish Museum (1109 Fifth Avenue) is housed in the gorgeous French Gothic Warburg mansion at 92nd Street. Celebrating its 110th anniversary this year, the museum has some of the world’s most important Jewish artifacts. Paintings and sculpture along with ceremonial objects, archaeological finds and broadcast media materials make up its historical collection.
The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (2 East 91st Street) is the only museum in the United States devoted to both historical and contemporary design. Located in the stunning Georgian mansion and former residence of Andrew Carnegie, it’s about to get more stunning as it is set to reopen later this year after a three-year renovation expanding exhibit and gallery space. Summertime at the Cooper-Hewitt includes Friday nights on the lawn for cocktails and jazz just steps from Central Park. Enjoy your newspaper or a book in the garden over a cup of tea on a pleasant afternoon.
The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts (1083 Fifth Avenue) is the city’s oldest art school, opened in 1825. These days it is a community of artists and students offering intensive workshops in not only painting, drawing and sculpture but more modern courses in new and mixed media, video and photography, printmaking and art theory. The museum is progressive in that it exhibits both 19th and 20th century artists as well as their current artists/students.
Take a few steps and you will see that famous mammoth, round white building simply called the Guggenheim (1071 5th Avenue at 89th Street). Linked with an international network of museums, this is the cultural center for art. Known for mainly modern and contemporary art, one can start their tour at the top or the bottom of the swirling and oft-critiqued Frank Lloyd Wright structure.
The Neue Galerie for German and Austrian Art (1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th Street) is devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design. Their permanent collection of the glittery and gorgeous Gustav Klimt is worth a visit alone. Viennese goodies from Café Fledermaus and Café Sabarsky are a must!
And the jewel in the crown: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street). Quite simply, it is the largest collection of art in the United States. The Impressionists. The American Wing. Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Asian, Islamic and African art. The Temple of Dendur. The Rodin gallery. Cocktails and installations on the roof in summer. Classical music on the mezzanine. Head north to their dedicated museum of Medieval art at the Cloisters. Talk about overload.
Once a year they open the whole lot to the public for the Museum Mile Festival — this year’s 36th annual will be held Tuesday, June 10. Live entertainment, art in the street and free admission to all museums!
Make sure to check all of the web sites listed above for hours and costs as they vary greatly.
Subway/Bus: The 4, 5, 6 line stops at 86th Street and the 6 stops at 96th, 103rd and 110th Streets. The M1, M2, M3 and M4 buses run down Fifth Avenue.