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.
Art of the Meal: Chloe Rose Makes Super Mario Bros Art With Hot Sauces
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
Permanent installation at the Museum of Ice Cream Soho 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
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
On view through December at 718 Broadway Noho 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
Permanent installation at the Empire State Building Galleries Midtown 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
Permanent installation at Poster House Chelsea 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
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
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
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
On view through 2022 at the Brooklyn Historical Society at Empire Stores Dumbo 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
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
Permanent installation at the Museum of the Dog Midtown 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
Indefinite installation at the KGB Spy Museum Chelsea 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
Indefinite installation at 250 Lafayette Street Soho 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
Indefinite installation at the Museum of Illusions Chelsea 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
Permanent installation at the Museum of the Moving Image Astoria 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
Indefinite installation at Color Factory SoHo 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
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
Indefinite installation at the New York Hall of Science Corona 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.