Art museums all over the world have captivated audiences and inspired conversations. But, few are as influential as the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This museum is home to some of the most famous works of art in the world and gives visitors an insight into their artists and their meaning.
With a collection of almost 20,000 works of art, the Museum of Modern Art is extremely vast. It could easily take days or weeks to explore each exhibit fully. To make the most of your trip, we’ve listed some of the best pieces to see and tips to ensure your visit is one to remember.
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Best Works to See at the Museum of Modern Art
Vincent Van Gogh – Starry Night
Starry Night is one of the most famous and recognisable paintings at the Museum of Modern Art. The painting is considered the best representation of Van Gogh’s impressionist art style. Starry Night has been on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art since 1941.
Vincent Van Gogh painted Starry Night with oil on canvas while he was at the Saint-Paul de Mausole asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France. The painting depicts the night sky over Saint-Rémy as he saw it from his bedroom window.
Starry Night is located on the 5th floor of the Museum of Modern Art in Galley 1. Although there are copies of the painting in museums worldwide, the original resides in New York, where it draws crowds from all over the world.
Salvador Dalí – The Persistence of Memory
Located on the 5th floor of the Museum of Modern Art in Gallery 12 is The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí. This work of art is known as Dalí’s quintessential piece. It captures his precise surrealist style.
The Persistence of Memory was painted in 1931 using oil on canvas. Just 3 years later, in 1934, the painting found its home at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is among the most popular pieces of art in the museum.
The painting features a desolate and barren landscape. Among the scenery are a lone dead tree and multiple melting clocks. Ants, which symbolise decay, and a morphed flesh-toned object similar to Dalí’s profile are also in the foreground of the painting.
Andy Warhol – Campbell’s Soup Cans
Campbell’s Soup Cans is a series of paintings by American pop artist Andy Warhol. The piece features 32 paintings, each depicting a flavour variety of Campbell’s soup which Warhol would eat for lunch daily.
The piece was painted in 1962 and was Warhol’s first painting created for a solo exhibition in an art gallery. He was a newly professional artist exploring using ordinary objects to create extraordinary art. Over time, it became one of his most famous and well-known pieces.
Campbell’s Soup Cans is located on the 4th floor of the Museum of Modern Art. It is a must-see during any visit and consistently brings crowds to the museum. In the museum’s gift shop, guests can find many articles of clothing, bags, and other items with the iconic painting’s image on them.
Roy Lichtenstein – Drowning Girl
Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl was created in 1963 and is an impeccable piece of pop art. Liechtenstein is known for appropriating images from comic books and altering them to change the mood and meaning, which is exactly what this piece does.
Drowning Girl comes from a page in the romance comic Secret Hearts. It was chosen for its melodramatic scene and altered by Lichtenstein to remove the boyfriend from the background and feature only the woman from the comic.
The text from the comic was also changed. Originally, the image said, “I don’t care if I have a cramp!” but Lichtenstein changed it to fit the mood he wanted for the piece. Drowning Girl depicts a woman surrounded by turbulent waves and suggests that she is distraught over a breakup or love affair.
Drowning Girl can be found on the 4th floor of the Museum of Modern Art. It is a great piece to admire and can even inspire conversations about whether or not Lichtenstein was right to appropriate comic strips. Some critics say that the paintings are too similar to their originals to be considered Lichtenstein’s work, while others note that the alterations and differences make Drowning Girl its own piece, separate from the comic.
Claude Monet – Water Lilies
In Gallery 9 on the 5th floor of the Museum of Modern Art, Water Lilies by Claude Monet is one of the most popular paintings in the museum. This impressionist piece is part of a collection that Monet painted towards the end of his life in Giverny, France.
Each canvas in the series is large-scale and filled with colours of the water and sky, as well as pink lilies, lilypads, and other vegetation. In addition to being known for their size, these paintings are famous for their perspective.
The pieces are done in a way where the water’s shore and horizon are not distinguishable from the rest of the painting. This was done on purpose by Monet and is the reason why all of the paintings are close-up to the water.
As a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Water Lilies has captured the hearts of visitors for years. Whether you’re a fan of Monet or simply browsing through the museum, Water Lilies is a painting that everyone will admire.
Edward Hopper – Gas Station
Gas Station is a painting created by Edward Hopper as a part of a collection of composites he made based on various gas stations across the United States of America. Hopper was one of the best painters to portray 20th-century realism, and this piece truly captures that style.
The painting portrays a small gas station near a country road. An attendant can be seen near the pumps, but no one else is around. In the background behind the paved road is a forest of trees.
The setting of this piece is at dusk, and the lighting from both the setting sun and the artificial lights help to portray the loneliness that the American countryside can bring. This 1940 oil on canvas painting is renowned for being an honest depiction of America without forcing any feelings on the viewers.
Although Hopper’s works were not well received during his lifetime, they have become staples of American realism. Gas Station can be found on the 5th floor of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is a must-see during any visit.
General Idea – Magi© Bullet
The Canadian group, General Idea, is made up of 3 artists: Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, and AA Bronson. The Magi© Bullet exhibit was first installed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1992. This was during the peak of the AIDS crisis in America, which the artists hoped to draw attention to.
The exhibit features silver mylar balloons that are pill-shaped. The balloons represented the pills that surrounded anyone who was diagnosed with AIDS at the time and how they eventually fully encapsulated their life.
At the start of the display, the mylar balloons were filled with helium. The helium would weaken and decrease over time, leading to the balloons falling from the ceiling to the floor. The falling balloons represent how the pills were a temporary solution and that there was no research into the root cause of the AIDS crisis or how to fix it.
Visitors of the exhibit are encouraged to take any fallen balloons home with them. This may seem odd since that means the exhibit disappears over time, but the removed balloons are meant to portray the lives lost to AIDS and how people disappeared due to the crisis.
In 1994, Partz and Zontal passed away due to complications from AIDS, and General Idea became inactive. Guests at the Museum of Modern Art can find the Magi© Bullet exhibit on the 4th floor of the museum.
Tips for visiting the Museum of Modern Art
Buy Your ticket in Advance
The Museum of Modern Art in New York is an extremely popular destination for tourists and locals. Because of this, there can be long lines for admission. To avoid the lines and start exploring the museum as soon as possible, purchasing your tickets online in advance is recommended.
When preparing to enter the museum, make sure you have your bags open and ready for a quick inspection. All bags are checked at the entrance, and any items that are not allowed will be confiscated. This includes any snacks, food, or drinks from outside the museum.
Avoid Weekends if Possible
Since the Museum of Modern Art is so well-known, it brings in very large crowds. This is especially true on weekends since many people are off work. If you can, it is best to visit during the week when the museum is less busy.
Unlike other museums, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is open 7 days a week throughout the year, except for on Christmas and Thanksgiving. This means that you can visit during working hours and have more space to yourself to wander around.
Check the Map
There are many exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art, and trying to see everything that interests you can get overwhelming. To avoid any unnecessary stress and ensure that you can see everything you came for, check the museum map before you arrive.
The museum has 6 floors to explore, and each contains different exhibits and amenities. From paintings and sculptures to restaurants and gift shops, it is important to know the areas you want to visit and which exhibits may not fascinate you.
Go Early in the Morning
With so many exhibits to see at the museum, it is a great idea to go early in the morning. The museum opens daily at 10:30 a.m., but there may be a line to get in right when the doors open to the public.
By arriving at the museum early, you will have the most time possible to explore the exhibits at your own pace. This means you can spend a bit of extra time admiring your favourite paintings or sculptures without worrying about missing any of the other pieces.
In addition to taking your time through the museum, arriving early also allows you to check out the gift shop or grab a bite to eat without feeling like you’re wasting time that could be spent admiring the artwork.
Go on a Guided Tour
Guided tours are held at the Museum of Modern Art to shed more light on the histories of the artwork on display. The tours are led by professional art historians and can be customised to focus on certain exhibits, mediums, or collections.
The tours are available daily and come in multiple different languages to make them accessible to all visitors. They are a great way to explore the museum and learn more about the artists’ work.
Take an Audio Tour
Audio tours are included with the admission prices to the Museum of Modern Art. In order to get a headset, you’ll have to leave an ID at the desk, but they are definitely worth checking out.
The audio tours give guests more insight and information about the different works of art on display. There are even child-friendly interactive audio tours that help keep them engaged and entertained throughout the visit.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York is one of the World’s Best Museums.
From famous paintings to breathtaking sculptures, there is something for everyone at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Within the galleries, visitors can become inspired, learn about different art forms, and be taken back in time.
Whether you’re an art connoisseur or just want to wander around and explore the exhibits, the Museum of Modern Art is a perfect place to visit during a holiday in America.
If you’re planning a trip to New York, check out our list of the top 20 things to do in New York City.