Met Vs MoMA: A Full Guide To NYC’s Most Popular Art Museums
The Museum of Modern Art (aka the MoMA) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (known as the Met) are unmissable New York attractions, showcasing masterpieces by legendary artists.
MoMA has more than 200,000 pieces of famous modern and contemporary art.
The Met houses around two million pieces spanning multiple centuries and genres.
These two museums are just 2 miles (3.2km) away from each other — a comfortable 35 minute walk through Central Park.
But if you’re wondering which museum to visit, we have an in-depth comparison of MoMA vs Met to help you decide.
We’ll also offer useful information about these two museums for first time visitors and highlight other must-see New York museums to add to your bucket list.
MoMA vs Met: 8 Key Differences
Let’s explore how the MoMA and the Met differ from each other.
1. Building Design
These museums have very different architecture and design:
The new MoMA building opened in 2004. The facade blends in well with the surrounding midtown Manhattan buildings. If it wasn’t for the large MoMA sign outside, visitors could easily miss it.
The Met building is much more historic, having opened its doors in 1880. It’s also much larger than the MoMA, at almost 2 million square feet.
This iconic building was featured in numerous movies and TV shows like Hitch and Gossip Girl. It’s also the venue for the star-studded Met Gala each year.
This modern American museum has a sculpture garden open all year round. Occasionally, garden parties are thrown here in the summer. But whether attending a party or not, the sculpture garden is a great location to enjoy some fresh air between viewings.
The Metropolitan Museum Rooftop is open in warmer months between 10 am – 4:30 pm on weekdays and 10 am – 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The rooftop showcases a different exhibit each year and has gorgeous views of Fifth Avenue, midtown Manhattan and Central Park.
Here are some of the exhibits you can expect to see:
Most of the displays at MoMA are notable works of modern art. You’ll see permanent pieces by Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Edward Hopper, Henri Matisse, Helen Frankenthaler, and other modern art creators. The MoMA also has Van Gogh’s The Starry Night on permanent display.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a variety of exhibits that range from modern artworks to classic pieces. You’ll see paintings by famous artists like Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock.
Some of the collections housed here include:
- 20th-century paintings and sculptures
- Egyptian exhibits, including an entire Egyptian temple
- An armor gallery
- Furniture pieces
- Architectural displays from modern architects like Frank Lloyd Wright
- Decorative artistic items
- Ancient musical instruments
- Statues from many periods and cultures
The Met also has a branch that specializes in European medieval art and architecture called the Met Cloisters. It’s located in Washington Heights, Fort Tryon Park.
Modern Art Exhibits
You’ll see exhibits by renowned artists like Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Andy Warhol.
There are also numerous contemporary pieces and temporary art installations. The art museum also shows films and live performances daily.
This museum has hundreds of modern and contemporary art pieces by artists such as Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenberg, Jackson Pollock, Pablo Picasso and others.
The Met occasionally hosts special screenings and live performances.
Most Popular Exhibits
Some of the most recognizable artworks on display include:
- Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night (1889)
- Frida Kahlo, Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940)
- Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962)
- Roy Lichtenstein, Drowning Girl (1963)
- Henri Matisse, The Dance I (1909)
Occasionally, they offer a special exhibition or two and showcase pieces on loan from other museums.
Some of the most popular exhibits include:
- Indigenous art: There are pieces from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, as well as 40,000 year old indigenous rock paintings from Australia.
- Egyptian art: The museum has various pieces from ancient Egypt, including jewelry, mummies, and even a tomb.
- Asian art: From Chinese calligraphy and paintings to Indian sculptures and a Ming Dynasty garden court replica, the museum has an extensive Asian art collection.
- European art: Looking for a piece by your favorite European artist? You’re in luck, here, you can see works by artists such as Vermeer, Peter Paul Rubens, Jan van Eyck, and Paul Cézanne.
- American art: The American exhibition includes decorative art pieces, sculptures, and paintings.
3. Dining Options
There are a few dining options within the art museum:
- The Modern: The Modern and Modern Bar Room are open for indoor dining and walk-ins are welcome. You can make reservations up to 28 days in advance.
Operating Hours: The Modern
Lunch: Monday–Saturday, 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Dinner: Monday–Saturday, 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Operating Hours: The Modern Bar Room
Lunch: Monday–Saturday, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: Monday–Saturday, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
- Café 2
Located on the second floor, Café 2 offers a wide range of rustic Italian dishes served at communal tables. Their menu features handmade pastas, cured salumi, artisanal cheeses, panini, salads, soups and desserts. You can also enjoy a variety of wines, beers and coffee.
The cafe only accepts walk-in diners — no reservations.
Operating Hours: Daily, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Carroll and Milton Petrie Terrace Café
The Terrace Cafe is located on the sixth floor and is open for indoor and outdoor dining (weather permitting). The restaurant accepts only walk-in diners.
Operating Hours: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
This art museum has eight different dining experiences, including:
- The Eatery: You’ll find this casual, family-friendly dining option on the ground floor. It offers pizza, sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts, espresso, and various other beverages.
Operating Hours: Monday –Tuesday and Thursday – Sunday, 11 am – 4 pm
- American Wing Café: Located on the first floor of the museum, it’s perfect for a quick snack and drink. They serve sushi, salads, sandwiches and other snacks, as well as beverages like wine, beer and coffee.
Sunday–Tuesday and Thursday, 11 am – 4 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 8 pm
- Petrie Court Cafe: For a special dining experience, this cafe is open Friday and Saturday evenings. They offer drinks, light meals and live music in the beautiful surroundings of the Met’s sculpture gallery.
Operating Hours: Friday and Saturday, 5 pm – 8:30 pm
- The Great Hall Balcony Café: Here you can enjoy a light meal from the seasonal menu of beer, wine, cocktails, pastries, sandwiches and desserts. You’ll find it on the second floor of the art museum.
Sunday–Tuesday and Thursday, 11 am – 4:15 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 4:15 pm and 5 – 8:15 pm
- The Balcony Lounge: If you’re a Met member, you can enjoy this eatery on the second floor. They serve seasonal small plate menus, cocktails, coffee and wines.
Reservations are strongly recommended.
Sunday–Tuesday, 11 am – 4:45 pm (Last seating: 3:45 pm)
Thursday, 9 am – 4:45 pm (Last seating: 3:45 pm)
Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 8:45 pm (Last seating: 7:45 pm)
- The Met Dining Room: Located on the fourth floor, the Met dining room offers upscale dining with sweeping views of Central Park.
Reservations are strongly recommended.
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, 11:30 am – 3:15 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am – 3:15 pm and 5 – 7:45 pm
(Closed Wednesday and Sunday)
- The Cantor Roof Garden Bar: Looking for a place to enjoy cocktails and snacks while taking in the stunning views of Central Park? This picturesque rooftop bar is a must.
Since it’s an outdoor venue, it can close on short notice due to bad weather.
Operating Hours: Closed in Winter. Check the website for more details.
In addition to their permanent exhibitions, both museums offer special programs to keep children entertained.
MoMA has an interactive space for visitors called the Heyman Family Art Lab. Visitors can experiment, play, and create while exploring various ideas, tools, and techniques of modern and contemporary art.
The Art Lab hosts free special programs for children under 16 years old as well as kids audio, activity guides, labels and hands-on spaces.
They also host occasional talks and events.
The museum has various printed family guides available to help families navigate the various exhibits.
It also hosts special interactive programs for children of all ages to learn, create and have fun. Programs include seasonal art classes for kids and art adventure camps, including Spring art camp for children between 5 and 12 years old.
5. Mobile Apps
You can download the free Bloomberg Connects app to your mobile device and select MoMA’s guide. The app features new and old artworks, suggestions on what collections to view and how to find your way around the museum.
The Met app is available for Apple and Android devices and offers information on current exhibitions, opening hours, collection highlights, admission details and children’s activities. It includes the Met’s Twitter feed and a special section just for members.
It also explores different aspects of the art featured at the museum, including the artwork of the day.
MoMA is conveniently located near the 53rd street stop on the E and M subway line.
If you’re traveling from Times Square or Grand Central to MoMA, it’s a 15 minute walk.
Address: 11 West 53 Street, Manhattan, New York City, NY, United States
The Met is located in the Upper East Side neighborhood, near Central Park.
By train, you can take the 4,5, or 6 subway to 86th Street and walk 15 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take the bus. The nearest bus stops are 5th Avenue/East 84th Street and East 79th Street /5th Avenue.
Address: 1000 Fifth Avenue, 82nd Street, New York City, NY 10028, United States
7. Operating hours
Sunday – Friday: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
Saturday: 10:30 am – 7:00 pm
New York residents: Free on the first Friday of the month (4pm – 8pm)
(Note: Monday mornings from 10:30 am – 1:00 pm are reserved for members and their guests. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas day)
Sunday – Tuesday and Thursday: 10 am – 5 pm
Friday and Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm
(Note: Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May)
8. Admission Costs
- Adults: $25
- Seniors 65+ (with ID): $18
- Visitors with disabilities: $18
- Students (Full-time with ID, incl. international students): $14
- Children (16 and under): Free
- Members: Free
Here’s what’s included with General Admission tickets:
- All permanent exhibitions
- Temporary and special exhibitions, unless otherwise indicated
- Access to dining and shopping venues
(Note: Timed tickets required – MoMA issues tickets based on available time slots)
- New York State residents and NY, NJ and CT students: Pay what you want
- Adults: $30
- Seniors: $22
- Students: $17
- Members, Patrons, and children under 12: Free
(Note: Free entrance for caregivers accompanying a visitor with a disability)
Here’s what’s included with General Admission tickets:
- All permanent exhibitions including Egyptian art, arms & armor and European paintings
- Admission to the Met Cloisters for three consecutive days
- Admission to temporary and special exhibitions, unless otherwise indicated
- Access to the dining and shopping options
(Please note: The Met Breuer, Madison Avenue, on the Upper East Side, which served as a branch of the Met between 2016-2020, has permanently closed.)
So, what’s the verdict on the Met vs MoMA debate on which museum is best?
MoMA vs Met: Which is Better?
It depends on your preference and what you’re expecting to see.
MoMA specializes in avant-garde and modern art. Alfred Barr, MoMA’s first director, believed the modern museum should be audacious and take chances with the art it exhibits.
That’s why MoMA offers an extensive range of modern and contemporary artworks. If that’s your area of interest, you may prefer this museum.
On the other hand, the Met has a range of artworks and artifacts from various artistic genres and periods in human history. So if you’re looking for art through the ages, you’re likely to find it here.
Helpful Advice Before You Visit
Whether you’re a New Yorker resident or tourist, here are a few handy tips to keep in mind when you visit.
For both museums:
- Get a New York Pass to save on admission: With a New York Pass, you can save on your tickets to MoMA, the Met, the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, and more.
- No flash photography: Photography is allowed in some galleries, but the use of flash is prohibited.
- There’s an onsite and online gift shop: Check the online gift shop before you visit the onsite one as the souvenirs available may differ.
Tips for visiting the MoMA:
- Arrive mid-morning: The lines are usually the longest in the morning. Come around 11:30 am to avoid the queues.
- Get free audio commentary: Download the MoMA audio app for audio commentary.
- Avoid the first Friday evening of the month: If you’re a New Yorker, you can enjoy free admission on the first Friday evening of the month. If you want to avoid crowds, visit on a different day.
When visiting the Met, remember:
- Avoid visiting during lunchtime: This museum is busiest around midday, so it’s best to visit earlier in the day.
- Plan ahead: This is a massive museum, so if there are particular exhibits and pieces you’d like to view, search for them in advance using the museum’s online map.
- Explore neighboring sites: A visit to the Met isn’t complete without checking out Belvedere’s Castle, a hidden Central Park gem behind the museum.
Read on for more fascinating New York attractions to explore.
What Are Other Popular Museums in New York?
Whether you’re interested in art, American or natural history, check out these other unmissable museums New York has to offer:
- The Noguchi Museum featuring the art of Isamu Noguchi
- Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
- Brooklyn Museum
- Rubin Museum of Art
- The Morgan Library and Museum, Madison Avenue
- National Museum of the American Indian in New York
- American Museum of Natural History
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- The Whitney Museum of American Art
- The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
- El Museo del Barrio
- American Folk Art Museum
- Museum of the City of New York
- Staten Island Museum
- New York Historical Society
- New York Transit Museum
- The Studio Museum in Harlem
- Museum of Broadway
- Museum at Eldridge Street
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Both MoMA and the Met have their merits. MoMA splendidly showcases modern art, while the Met provides a holistic experience of art through the ages.
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This article is sponsored by Masterworks.io. This material is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice and should not be relied on to form the basis of an investment decision.