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I don’t get a lot of questions from readers, but lately, I’ve gotten a few good ones that I’ve decided to answer and elaborate on.
Do you think an afternoon/evening is enough at the Met for me and my son?
Have you been to Williamsburg? Can it be done in a day?
Today I’ll tackle the first question, “How much time should you allow when visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art?”
My simple answer would be, “As much time as you can!”
When my oldest son turned 18, he and I traveled to NYC with the sole intention of visiting the Met for his birthday. Do we love art or what?
We spent HOURS exploring the galleries and loved every minute of our visit. We easily could have spent two days exploring and I hope to one day have the opportunity to return to see what we missed the first time around.
Do I think everyone will enjoy visiting for days? Absolutely not, but if you love art or history, I don’t see how you could go wrong by allocating a minimum of three hours to the Metropolitan Museum of Art during a visit to the Big Apple.
Tips to get the most out of a Visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Don’t let the crowds scare you.
I don’t know if it was because we had the misfortune to visit NYC during one of the hottest days in history, but the museum was CROWDED. If you’re like me and tend to shy away from crowds, don’t worry, the Met is so massive that by the time you get past the lobby the crowds pretty much dissipate.
I was thankful that I’d thought to purchase the Go Select New York Explorer Pass by Smart Destinations before my visit. This nifty little card allowed me to bypass the lines at checkout and approach a line with no waiting, allowing me to enter the exhibit within minutes of stepping into the lobby. I even managed to beat my aunt who had purchased advance tickets online.
Plan your visit in advance.
You can wait to see what the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers until you get there, or you can spend a few minutes on their website familiarizing yourself with all of the wonderful exhibits and galleries. You’ll find resources to help you plan your visit like visitor tips and policies to suggested itineraries based on how much time you’ll have to explore, the age of your party and your interests on the museum’s website.
Dress for Comfort, not Fashion
If the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the ONLY attraction you’ll have time for in NYC, you can still count on spending a great deal of time on your feet. A good pair of shoes is a must, and it wouldn’t hurt to carry a lightweight sweater or jacket. If you’re anything like me, you’re likely to freeze in the air-conditioned buildings.
Take a break.
There are benches where you can stop and rest for a few minutes everywhere. If you get tired, stop and rest or better yet, take a break from the galleries and grab a bite to eat. The museum offers several food venues for you to choose from. We got as far as the Greek and Roman gallery when we decided it was time to refuel. We choose the least expensive meal option, the cafeteria, for lunch. I thought the food was good and there seemed to be plenty of selections to choose from. You’re not eating at McDonald’s so plan to shell out a bit more cash, but then the food was much more palatable than fast food. If I remember correctly, I spent around $40 bucks for three meals.
When it comes to visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, my advice would be to pick one or two exhibits that you really want to see– don’t miss those and fit in whatever else you have time for.
In the five hours that we spent exploring the museum, my son and I walked through the Greek/Roman galleries, had lunch in the cafeteria, made our way upstairs to a special exhibit, and saw the Impressionist paintings before heading back downstairs to the very popular, Egyptian wing and the Armor Court.
We managed to see bits and pieces of other exhibits as we were making our way to each specific gallery. We didn’t see everything, but when we left I felt that we’d spent a fair amount of time and felt good about our visit.
Would I love to go back? Absolutely, but if we don’t ever return to NYC that’s okay too. I’m pleased with what we were able to see.
Keep in mind that your ticket to the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes admission to the Cloisters, in Northern Manhattan which is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find room in our schedule to visit this branch of the museum. I really would have enjoyed spending a bit of time there as well so it’s on my list of places to visit when we return to NYC.
Though my tips are geared more towards adults and teens, younger children would enjoy the Met as well. Stop by one of the guest desks to pick up a scavenger hunt and to find out if any programs are offered during your visit.
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
New York, NY 10028
Don’t miss these directions to help you find your way to and from the museum.
Tuesday–Thursday: 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Friday and Saturday: 9:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m.*
Sunday: 9:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Closed Monday (except Met Holiday Mondays), Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1
*Galleries close 15 minutes prior to the museum closing.
Adults $25 (worth every penny!)
Seniors (65 and older) $17
Members and children under 12 FREE
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must when visiting New York City and it is possible to get discounted admission in advance when you combine your visit with other top NYC Attractions. I recommend purchasing the New York CityPASS to Save 43% or more on New York’s 6 best attractions with CityPASS. Shop Now! My own family has used it on three separate trips to the city.
Central Park runs directly behind the museum, so if you have any desire to see Central Park it’s only a short walk away. You’ll find playgrounds, an arsenal, a castle, famous statues (like Balto and Alice in Wonderland), scenes that you may recognize from movies and dozens of other attractions. You can view the map of the park to plan your visit.
Have you visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art? What tips would you add?
I’ve also included some resources to help you get the most out of your visit.