Mar 14, 2012

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(revised 2013) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.)


While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society.

The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's sculpture garden. These townhouses at 7 and 5 W. 54th Street are part of a longer row representing a time when millionaires lived in this part of Midtown. The building at 7 W. 54th dates from 1900 and was built for Philip Lehman of Lehman Brothers.

25 Things To Do Near The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

1. Paley Park, 3 E. 53rd St.
This small urban park built in 1967 on the site of the former Stork Club is considered a model of successful public places. William S. Paley, the founder of CBS, donated the park and named it after his father. The waterfall at the back of the space, when turned on for the season, softens the noise of the street. A frequent gathering place for a sack lunch.

2. Austrian Cultural Forum, 11 E. 52nd St. website
Before entering, please step back to look at the acclaimed architecture of this 2002 building. Architectural theorist and practitioner Raimund Abraham designed the slender 24-story building on E. 52nd Street, built in 2000.

3. King Cole Bar, St. Regis Hotel, 2 E. 55th St. website
Order the signature Red Snapper at the King Cole Bar inside the St. Regis Hotel. Enjoy Maxfield Parrish's Old King Cole, the delightful mural stretching behind the bar.

4. Henry Bendel, 712 5th Avenue. website
The roots of Henri Bendel rest not in Paris but in French Louisiana, but as a famous designer and retailer, Bendel would cultivate Parisian connections. Speaking French greatly helped his cause. According to all reports, Bendel maintained a personal connection to the citizens of his native Lafayette, Louisiana throughout his life. While here, be prepared for running the gamut of perfume representatives.

5. Rockefeller Center, 48 to 51st Street, from Fifth to 6th Avenue. website
Architect Raymond Hood, as head of the design team, bore the main responsibility for negotiating among the many interests to make "the City within a City" a reality in limestone. While speaking the language of cost and efficiency, he argued that Rockefeller Center needed roof gardens, open spaces, and works of great art if it was going to succeed. Almost everyone else at the time thought it was going to fail. They were wrong.

6. Paris Theatre, 4 W. 58th St. ‪website
See a movie here for a charming experience. The Pathé Company opened this arthouse cinema on September 13, 1948. The company owned the theater until 1990.

7. Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Ave. website
The great 57th Street cultural corridor began in 1891 with the opening of Carnegie Hall, the symbol of music world success. A year later, the Art Students League moved into the new American Fine Arts Building, an elegant French Renaissance building at 215 West 57th Street. Developing by small increments, by the late 1920s the blocks of West 57th Street between 8th Avenue and 5th Avenue had become a major center for cultural life in the United States.

8. CLOSED. A GREAT TRAGEDY. Rizzoli Flagship Store, 31 W. 57th St.
Browse one of the city's historic bookstores. The store, occupying three floors of an historic townhouse, harkens back to the day when bookstores were actually glamorous.

9. 57th Street Galleries
In addition to MoMA, visit the contemporary galleries along 57th Street, including Marian Goodman, Marlborough, and Laurence Miller.

10. Sony Wonder Technology Lab, 550 Madison Ave. website
An interactive museum highlights the visual culture of the high tech age.

11. Ziegfeld Theatre, 141 W. 54th St. website
The "new" Ziegfeld Theater opened in 1969, built near the original theatre of the same name and based on drawings by Emery Roth & Sons architects, with designs by Irving Gershon and John McNamara, the interior designer. See a movie in a true movie palace of the old style.

12. St. Patrick's Cathedral, 14 E 51st St. website
Designed by James Renwick, Jr., the Gothic Revival-style St. Pat's remains the heart of the city's Roman Catholic community. According to the church, five million people visit the cathedral every year. (Event note: This coming Saturday, March 17, St. Patrick's Day, several thousand people wearing green will march down Fifth Avenue toward the cathedral.)

13. Onassis Cultural Center, 645 5th Avenue. website
Olympic Place explicitly asserts a connection to classical Greece as it serves as the home to the Onassis Cultural Center. The center features galleries with free admission and is open to the public Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

14. Paley Center for Media, 25 W. 52nd St. website
Revel in the history of television, radio, and emerging media. The Paley Center frequently gathers the casts of popular TV shows to talk about their programs.

15. Lever House
The 1952 building is famous for introducing the world to the glass curtain wall, and while some may hate them for their evil spawn, the building has aged well. The Lever House Art Collection displays works of art in the building's courtyard and adjacent spaces.

16. Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Avenue website
Since 1893 the society has worked hard to build and sustain a livable New York. Learn about their upcoming programs and tours. Every Wednesday from 12:30 to 2 p.m. the society gives tours of Grand Central Terminal.

17. IBM Building, 590 Madison Avenue, atrium
Edward Larrabee Barnes designed the tall wedge-shaped office building to accommodate a ground level open space atrium. Enjoy the indoor bamboo trees while grabbing a drink and a snack.

18. Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave.
The flagship Saks store on Fifth Avenue, directly across the street from Rockefeller Center built a decade later, won many accolades upon its opening in 1924. The store was one of the first to seriously use elaborate window displays as a form of merchandising. Later renovations included the installation of escalators and the construction of a commercial tower.

19. Explore the midtown arcades.
This area of Midtown, around the hotels and places in the Theatre District, between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue, features several walking arcades. Just to the east of 7th Avenue, four arcades run north and south linking W. 51st and W. 55th.

Food: Midtown Manhattan features not only landmark places to shop and explore but also some stellar dining opportunities. Many additions could be made to the list below.

20. Petrossian, 182 W. 58th St. website
On the ground floor of the ornate Alwyn Court Building, enjoy caviar and French-inspired food in a spectacular room decorated with Lalique glass and Limoges china. Dress up.

21. 21 Club, 21 W. 51st St. website
This clubby historic New York spot for cocktails will make you feel like you're in a New York movie. Good spot for the horse set. Drink a Manhattan, by all means.

22. Carnegie Deli, 854 7th Ave. #1 website
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, so you can walk off absurd portions of pastrami sandwiches and slices of cheesecake.

23. Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian, 119 W. 56th St. website
Line up for one of the best burgers in the city. A simple hamburger-centric menu with drink choices of water, milkshake, wine, and beer. You may order a brownie for dessert.

24. Radiance Tea House and Books, 158 W. 55th St. website
Extensive selection of teas in a calm, serene atmosphere. A welcome respite from busy Midtown streets.

25. Bar American, 152 W 52nd St. website
Brasserie by Bobby Flay offers reliable regional-inspired fare including smoked chicken pot pie, shrimp and grits, and grilled pizza with bacon.


View Things to do near MoMA in a larger map

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Images by Walking Off the Big Apple.


Check out these other 25 Things in New York City:

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art
25 Things to Do in Chelsea
25 Radical Things to Do in Greenwich Village
25 Great Things To Do in New York City
25 Affordable Hotels and Inns in New York City