The Coolest New Exhibits to Check out in NYC Before They Disappear

The Gyre Room
The Gyre Room | Courtesy of Arcadia Earth
The Gyre Room | Courtesy of Arcadia Earth

There are so many incredible things to see in and around New York City: stunning skyline views, beautiful beaches, hidden hiking destinations, quite a few nudes, and restaurant and bar menus as carefully curated as some of this city’s finest museum exhibitions. If you want to look at stuff, this is the town to beat.

But sometimes, looking at stuff isn’t enough. Sometimes you need other people to look at you looking at stuff. You need people to look at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat to see you looking at stuff. And the stuff you’re looking at better be good if you’re gonna rack up the likes and shares you crave. As da Vinci would have said (and you know, out of all the masters, da Vinci would have been the first to say it), pics or it didn’t happen. Each of these exhibits fall into one of three categories: garish gimmick, actually cool, and high art. A few even overlap. Share them on your social and let your followers sort out which is which.

Keith Richards' boots
Keith Richards' boots | Robert Wedemeyer

Keith Richards’ Boots

On view through August 23 at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
Upper West Side
Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution
spotlights the legendary concert promoter’s life and work via hundreds of objects accumulated throughout his august career. Keith Richards’ battered and tattered leather boots -- replete with an attempted duct tape repair job  -- are a keen reminder to kick on the starter and give it all you got. 
Cost: Tickets are $22

The Sprinkle Pool

Permanent installation at the Museum of Ice Cream
The gastronomic gallery that first dipped into NYC in 2016 now has 13 confectionary photo ops spread across three floors and 25,000 square feet on Broadway. Here, you’ll wind down a slide, hug the pole on a bubblegum-pink, bizarro subway car, sample sweet treats, and take a lap in the sprinkle pool. 
Cost: Tickets are $22

Butterfly Conservatory
The Butterfly Conservatory | Courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History

The Butterfly Conservatory

Open through May 25 at the American Museum of Natural History
Upper West Side
The butterflies are back at the AMNH! Walk among hundreds from all over the world, and wonder why these beautiful, winged creatures inspire feelings of whimsy, while their close cousin, the creepy moth, just freaks everybody out. Have your flower crown filter at the ready to complete the social media look.  
Cost: $28 includes general admission and exhibit access

The Gyre Room

On view through December at 718 Broadway
Arcadia Earth’s 15 rooms spanning 15,000 square feet explore the looming ecological issues threatening to make our planet uninhabitable. The frightening subject matter -- climate change, deforestation, pollution -- gives each post-apocalyptic room an eerie cast. The spaces are as pretty as they are chilling, and the mirrored Gyre Room’s cerulean hues evoke a kind of calm before the storm. Who knows, maybe yours will be the last selfie taken on planet Earth. 
Cost: General Admission is $33

empire state king kong exhibit
King Kong | Evan Joseph

King Kong

Permanent installation at the Empire State Building Galleries
Eighty-six years after his film debut captured the world’s hearts and minds, the most famous movie monster of all time is back in Manhattan. Decades older and wiser, King Kong’s present visit to the Empire State Building is a little more down to earth than his last trip: you can catch a glimpse of the majestic creature and even curl into his grasp in the ESB’s second-floor galleries.  
Cost: Standard passes are $38 and include access to the 86th floor main deck

Poster House
The Photo Booth | Samuel Morgan Photography/Poster House

The Photo Booth

Permanent installation at Poster House
The United States’ only museum dedicated to the humble poster, Poster House has graphics dating back to the advent of the medium in the 1880s through today. And among the works from all over the world, you can greenscreen your way into iconic posters and see yourself as “Rosie the Riveter,” the 50-Foot Woman, or the human half of J. Stahl’s Champagne grapes. 
Cost: $12; postcard-sized prints are $5

rose mansion fermentation room
The fermentation room | Rosé Mansion

The Fermentation Room

Open through April at the Rosé Mansion
Midtown West
Look every bit the mad scientist intent on drowning the earth in sweet, chemical rosé you always wanted to be in the Rosé Mansion’s capital-P Pink, beaker filled “fermentation room,” where you’ll at least appear to know something about summer’s favorite wine.
Cost: General Admission is $45

Coral Reef Tunnel
Coral Reef Tunnel | ©Julie Larsen Maher/WCS

Coral Reef Tunnel

Permanent exhibit at the New York Aquarium
Coney Island
You may never achieve your dream of starting a new life under the sea, but you can catch a brief respite from life on land at the Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit. Stroll through the crystal clear Coral Reef Tunnel and see how many varieties of the aquarium’s 12 shark species you can spy.
Cost: General admission is $30

Lady Liberty's Original Torch
Lady Liberty's Original Torch | David Sundberg / Esto

The Statue of Liberty's Original Torch

Permanent installation at the Statue of Liberty Museum
Liberty Island
Lady Liberty’s original torch went through its fair share of modifications over the course of a hundred years before it was finally removed on July 4th, 1984. Standing 16’ tall, reaching 12’ wide, and weighing 3,600 lbs, the torch’s new home in the Statue of Liberty Museum’s Inspiration Gallery is a relatively intimate venue for an iconic piece of Americana.
Cost: Ferry tickets to the island are $18.50; the museum is free to enter

history in motion
History in Motion | Idris Talib Solomon

History in Motion

On view through 2022 at the Brooklyn Historical Society at Empire Stores
Waterfront at BHS’ Empire Stores location wades through the history of the Brooklyn coastline via oral histories, photographs, sculpture, video, and multimedia installations. The History in Motion exhibit transports visitors to the center of historic works to rub elbows with subjects and make a minute-long video to document the virtual trip.
Cost: Suggested donation is $10

spyscape james bond aston martin
Bond's Aston Martin DB5 | Courtesy of © Albert Vecerka/Esto

James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5

On view through winter at Spyscape
Hell’s Kitchen
Mononymous icons have their signature accessories. Bono has his shades. Miley has her weed. And Bond had his martini, but pivoted to Heineken, so let’s just go with the car for now. The kicky little silver Aston Martin DB5 from 1995’s GoldenEye anchors the Q Workshop, at Driven: 007 X Spyscape, where you’ll also see gadgets inspired by the Quartermaster himself.
Cost: Tickets are $23

museum of the dog interactive activity
Find Your Match | Museum of the Dog

Find Your Match

Permanent installation at the Museum of the Dog
Odds are you’ve already uploaded selfies all over town, so why not add your visage to this visual exhibit that scans your face to find your doggy doppelgänger? Do your luxurious locks make you look like a lovely Afghan Hound? Does your sleek crop give you the air of an elegant Doberman Pinscher? Or do you have the floppy ears of a Basset Hound, the high maintenance exterior of a Bichon Frise, or the inimitable style of a Bergamasco? Find out at the Museum of the Dog’s interactive display.
Cost: Tickets are $15

old camera and briefcase
KGB Spy Museum

KGB Chief Desk

Indefinite installation at the KGB Spy Museum
This exhibit’s raison d’être is social media, so you’re free to take your time finding the perfect angle to capture your turn as a fearsome, meddling KGB boss. The Chief’s desk setup is appropriately drab, expectedly austere, and will surely accrue more than a few political jokes on the picture platform of your choice.
Cost: Admission is $25

Fancy Cars

Indefinite installation at 250 Lafayette Street
Rally Rd. is a luxy/collector/classic car investment app that allows users to invest relatively small amounts of money in super-spendy vehicles with the obvious end goal/pipe dream of seeing a financial return. In a transparent PR stunt/attention-grab, it also has a downtown space where you can pose with an 82 Aston Martin Vantage that maybe somebody will think could possibly be yours -- I don’t know your followers.
Cost: Free to enter

The Rotated Room

Indefinite installation at the Museum of Illusions
The photo-up you’re most drawn to at the Museum of Illusions is a reflection of your id. Are you driven to see yourself infinitely multiplied, serve your head on a plate, loom large over a companion, straddle a bottomless pit, or find out who really wins when you’re playing a high-stakes game of poker against... yourself? Each trick of the eye appeals to a distinct base desire -- but that’s between you and your shrink. For our money, the Rotated Room, where you’ll appear to scale the walls, provides the most social media buck bang.
Cost: Tickets are $19

The Jim Henson Exhibition

Permanent installation at the Museum of the Moving Image
See Big Bird, Elmo, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, and 43 of their puppet pals at this sweet celebration of the creator who gave us The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and Labyrinth. You can even try your hand at puppeteering on screen and snap a pic the Twitter bots will love.
Cost: General admission is $15

color factory monochrome ball pit
Color Factory Ball Pit | Heather Moore

The Ball Pit

Indefinite installation at Color Factory
New to New York by way of San Francisco, Color Factory knows its audience -- cameras are scattered throughout the space in an effort to minimize wait times in the monochrome ball room, at the colorful macaroon conveyor belt, and on the illuminated Twister-esque dance floor. You’ll still have to be patient to capture the perfect Boomerang, but at least they tried.
Cost: Tickets are $38

Decorative Arts and Period Rooms

Permanent installation at the Brooklyn Museum
Prospect Heights
Each of these 23 rooms pulls back the curtain on lifestyle and design from the 17th to the 20th century. Travel back in time and indulge in a little old-fashioned cosplay on the periphery of a New England Sea Captain’s whimsical 1725 parlor, a lavish 1860s Rockefeller smoking room, and a sexy Art Deco study. On the internet, nobody knows it’s not your apartment.
Cost: General admission is $16

colored light
Courtesy of NY Hall of Science

Scattered Light

Indefinite installation at the New York Hall of Science
Hundreds of ribbons of 52-foot-long fluorescent flagging tape cascade from the massive circular skylight in NYCSCI’s lobby, creating different light and color patterns depending on the time of day, where you’re standing, and even weather conditions. Visit often for changing views and repeated views.  
Cost: Lobby access is free, general admission is $16

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Amber Sutherland-Namako is Thrillist’s New York editor. Follow her on Twitter.