When it comes to the Met vs MOMA you really can’t go wrong.  Both the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art are amazing museums.  I have been to both museums many times and highly recommend that you also go to both if you can.  However, I know that sometimes you can only fit one museum in the itinerary, so here are my thoughts on the differences between the Met and MOMA to help you choose.

Rodin's work at the Met - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
Rodin’s work at the Met

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Building

As you would expect, MOMA is a modern building opened in 2004 and that really works well for a modern art museum.  The building blends in with other buildings in midtown and if it weren’t for the large sign outside you might not even expect that there a museum inside.    The Met, however, is housed in an iconic building that opened to the public in 1880!  It has now expanded to cover more than 2 million square feet.  Like I learned on my When Harry Met Seinfeld tour, the famous steps outside have been part of many TV shows and movies like Gossip Girls and Hitch.  The Met is also home to the Met Gala, also known as the Superbowl of Fashion, which is held on the first Monday of May each year.

Winner: Met

Modern Art

My favorite type of art is modern art so I prefer to go to museums with that focus.  Obviously, MOMA focuses on modern art, the whole building is filled with just modern art.  They have an impressive collection including works by Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh and Warhol to name a few.  I also really enjoy the contemporary art at MOMA.  Before I visited the Met, I thought the focus was more on Egyptian and classical pieces, but I should say I was also really impressed with the collection of modern art at the Met.  They also have pieces by Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh, plus they have a nice collection from my favorite artist, Rodin, and more.   

Winner: MOMA

Overall Collection

The MOMA focuses on modern and contemporary Art and they do it well!  Seeing the collection of art at MOMA in one day is doable.  The Met art galleries have such a broad range of pieces from ancient Egypt, to Medieval Art, to European Art, Modern Art, and more.  I don’t think it is possible to see everything at the Met in one visit, probably not even in two.  I keep finding new areas that I hadn’t seen on previous visits.  So based on the variety and size of the collection, the Met wins here hands down.

Winner: Met

Russell at the Temple of Dendur in the Met. - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
Russell at the Temple of Dendur in the Met.

Special Exhibits

Both museums have excellent special exhibits, that are constantly changing.  Probably the most well-known special exhibit was the Rain Room at MOMA.  Unfortunately, I never got to see the exhibit because the lines were always so long!

China in the Looking Glass Exhibit at the Met - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
China in the Looking Glass Exhibit at the Met

I have fond memories of several of the special exhibits I went to.  I really enjoyed the Tim Burton exhibit at MOMA, it was a really interesting insight into his thinking and his life.  At the Met, I really enjoyed the China Through the Looking Glass Exhibit, which showed some of the Asian influence in fashion.

Winner: MOMA

Outdoor Space

In Manhattan, outdoor space is precious and both museums have it.  MOMA has a sculpture garden that is open year around.  The Met has a rooftop that is open in during the warmer weather months. (May through late fall, weather permitting).    Since the Met is located on the edge of Central Park, the view of the park and the midtown skyline is definitely Instagram-worthy.  The Met Rooftop has a different art exhibit each year.  The Met Rooftop is open from 10 am – 4:30 pm during the week (except it is closed on Mondays) and until 8 pm on Friday and Saturday.  There is a Martini Bar on the Met rooftop that is open Friday and Saturday from 5:30 – 8:00 pm.

Winner: Met

The MOMA sculpture garden covered in snow! - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
The MOMA sculpture garden covered in snow!

Food

You can find some great food options at either MOMA or the Met.

MOMA features dining options by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, including The Modern, a contemporary American fine-dining restaurant that holds two Michelin stars, and museum cafés, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5.  You do not need to be a museum guest to go to the Modern, it is pricey though.  The museum cafes are for museum guests only and do not accept reservations.  I am a big fan of Danny Meyer’s restaurants and the cafes in MOMA are great too!

Anisa and Russell on the Met Rooftop with midtown Manhattan in the background. - - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
Anisa and Russell on the Met Rooftop with midtown Manhattan in the background.

The Met has several dining options too.  The Dining Room at the Met is the fine dining option.  Even though it is located inside the museum overlooking Central Park, you don’t have to purchase admission to the museum to dine there.  They are offering a lunch Summer Restaurant Week 2017 menu, so now would be a could time to try it.  They also have several casual options including the Balcony Lounge, The Petrie Court Café, The American Wing Café, and the Cafeteria.  You can also get light bites at the Rooftop.

Winner: MOMA

Hours

MOMA is open seven days a week from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm.  During the summer, they are open until 9 pm Thursday-Saturday.  The Met is open 10 am – 5:30 pm Sunday through Thursday and from 10 am – 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.  So during the summer, MOMA has better hours, but the rest of the year, the Met has better hours.

Both museums are popular so the best time to go will be during the week in the mornings.  Since MOMA is a smaller museum, it will feel more crowded than the Met.  When the weather is bad, the crowds will be bigger at both museums.

Winner: Tie

The Met was pretty quiet after dark. - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
The Met was pretty quiet after dark.

Location

The MOMA Museum is conveniently located at 11 West 53rd Street in Midtown, only a block from the 53rd street stop on the E and M subways.  The Met is located at 1000 5th Avenue on the Upper East Side.  You will most likely need to take the 4,5, or 6 subway to 86th Street and walk 15 minutes or take the bus.

Winner: MOMA

Price

Anisa at MOMA - - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
Anisa at MOMA

Below is a comparison of the regular admission prices as of 7/24/17.

METMOMA
Adults$25$25
Seniors$17$18
Students$12$14 (full-time with ID)
ChildrenFreeFree for 16 and under

At face value, the prices look pretty similar.  However, the regular admission price for the MET is the amount you will pay (plus a $1 fee per ticket) if you buy your ticket online.  But don’t buy your ticket online! If you buy your ticket at the museum, you are actually able to name your own price.  They will ask you how much you want to pay and it is fine to say something lower than the admission price.   Also, I should mention that with your admission to the Met on 5th Avenue, you also get same day admission to the Met Breuer (closed on Monday) and the Met Cloisters.

Jackson Pollack at the Met. - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
Jackson Pollack at the Met.

For MOMA, every Friday evening, 4:00 pm–8:00 pm (and until 9:00 pm July 1–September 2), admission is free thanks to UNIQLO! If you want to go to a MOMA free Friday, please go early as it is very popular and there will be a line.

Both the Met and MOMA also have different combination passes with other attractions that will save you money.  The RockMOMA ticket saves you $7 on admission to MOMA and the Top of the Rock Observation Deck.  Additionally, both museums are part of the New York Pass which includes admission to 90+ Attractions in New York (Click here to see all the attractions included).   Alternatively, both museums are also part of the New York City Explorer Pass which is currently on sale on Groupon.

Winner: Met

Overall

For me it’s a hard choice, I really love MOMA because my favorite type of art is modern, but the MET has so much to offer.  

Ok, so I want to hear your thoughts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or MOMA, which one would you choose?

Anisa

Expert Tips For Choosing Between Met and MOMA

 

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Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?
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42 thoughts on “Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?

  • I love MoMA! There’s always some really interesting and thought provoking exhibits and I really like the contemporary art stuff. Plus there’s a good sushi restaurant close by.

  • No contest, the Met. But then I have given up trying to appreciate most art after the Surrealists. I will be perfectly happy if I never see another Picasso. Of course, I will also be perfectly happy if I never see another St. Anthony full of arrows. And my real preference is for arts and crafts rather than fine art – think the V&A in London.

  • Hey! Glad to see you’re keeping up with your posts (unlike me..) and this was really interesting for me cos I’ve been to the Met but never to MOMA. My husband hates modern art, so we’ve never been, but now I’m thinking that I should just go visit it myself the next time I’m in NYC 🙂 The Met is indeed amazing! How many trips did it take you to see all of it (if you have)?

    1. Michelle – So nice to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. I know a lot of people don’t like Modern Art, it is one of those things you either love or hate. I don’t even know how many times I have been to the Met. I think I have seen most of the museum? I take out of town visitors there a lot so tend to take them to see my favorite areas. So I don’t necessarily see new areas anymore.

  • 2 million square feet??? Really??? Wow! That’s all I got Wow!! Ok, I love how you structure your posts. I love the way you so often do a there’s this and there’s that and here’s my conclusions. It’s great! I have not had the good pleasure to visit NY yet, but if and when I make it there, I’m gonna be so prepared. Wow. 2million square feet. I can’t imagine. I could spend a week!

  • I have been to the Met and I loved everything I saw. Well, I wasn’t able to see everything. I think that is a hard task in one visit. Yes, I remember the Met only has a suggested price and you can decide to pay something lower than that suggested price. Also, visitors should ask for discounts available. My mom entered for free with her teaching credentials. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • I am NOT a museum person. AT ALL. Unless there is an artist I specifically want to see, like Jackson Pollock, or something to do with WWI/II. I just cant stand the sloooooow pace of moving around. It hurts my feet. #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  • The Met is the hands-down winner for me as I like that is has so much to offer. I like ancient and classical art as well as the interiors of famous homes etc. The one thing I don’t like about the Met is that it was really crowded when we were there a month or two ago and there were lines just to see some of the exhibits but at least you can move to less crowded spots since the museum is so huge! But I think as you say, it really depends as modern art lovers would definitely want to se MOMA and probably try to visit both since the Met also has a fantastic modern art collection.

    1. Jessica – Yes ideally I do think everyone should try to visit both, but I know that’s not always possible. Both museums, unfortunately, do get pretty popular. I recommend trying to either go early or late if you want it to be less crowded.

  • I’ve been 10 years ago to NY for 2 days, but I never entered into a museum. I walked around the whole time, like a lunatic …I even lost 4 kilos.
    But your post it’s really well structured, based on this, I have to admit the overall feeling is that I must see both, next time I go…which will probably in 2 years! 🙂

  • This is a great comparison! I’ve never been to MOMA, but in general I prefer smaller museums for the more intimate feel and less hectic experience. I much prefer Musee d’Orsay over the Louvre!

  • My home town!!! I love both and have been to both many times as well. I think both are great but just depends on your taste. I like the MET more just because it has such diversity and I love the Cloisters. Great tips and great info!!

  • This is a GREAT comparison article! I must admit although I’ve been to New York a handful of times I’ve never given myself time to really explore all the amazing museums and experiences it has to offer. I love MoMA but will definitely have to get to the MET one day!

    Best,
    Rebecca

  • I’ve been to the Met twice but still I don’t think that’s enough time! There are so many things to see! This is nice to have a comparison of the Met & the MOMA – I’ve never been to the MOMA but knowing there’s a Tim Burton exhibit??!? Now I need to go!!!

  • Ah, very hard choice, Anisa. I loved them both but probably I would opt for the Met in winter. There is a lot to see there to keep you busy (and warm) for a day. After reading your post I started missing the rich cultural life of this great city. We do have some great museums here in Los Angeles too, but we don’t have that atmosphere that you have in New York. I miss that. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • I love the way you put this post together! I love both museums, too, but the Egyptian room at the Met with it’s amazing temple and the view of Central Park wins me over every time! I LOVED the China through the looking glass exhibit, it might have been one of the best museum exhibitions I’ve ever seen! #theweeklypostcard

    1. Hilary – Thanks so much, so glad you enjoyed the post. It’s so hard for me to choose! The China through the looking glass exhibit was really good, but MOMA has had many great exhibits too!

  • I’ve only been to the Met. Overall, the family is not a huge fan of modern art. On the other hand, I like Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and Warhol, so perhaps I would have enjoyed the MOMA after all. We ended up at the Met because of the broad scope of its collection, especially the Egyptian art. I’d love to visit New York again so that I could give the MOMA a try.

  • This is a tough choice! I have been to the Met a couple of times and it’s just amazing. However, if I only have time for one museum during my trip to NYC, I usually go for the MOMA. I am really into modern and contemporary art and the temporary exhibits are usually very interesting. I also saw the one about Tim Burton and it made me appreciate his work even more.

  • While we both like Modern well enough, we are classicists at heart, so the Met would be our first choice. MOMA is so iconic, though, that you’d have to go. Would love to have seen the Tim Burton exhibit, by the way. I bet that was fantastic, in the truest sense of the word. And that rooftop view – wow! Fun comparison – thanks for sharing! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • I’ve been to neither as I’ve never been to NYC, but I’d love to go to both. Will definitely use this guide when I finally get the chance.

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