Brooklyn Museum is one of New York City’s most sizable institutions, home to approximately 1.5 million pieces of art spread across over 550,000 square feet of space. Highlights of Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection include Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, Gilbert Stuart’s legendary portrait of George Washington, and Frederick Childe Hassam’s Late Afternoon, New York, Winter. The Brooklyn Museum is also especially renowned for its rotating temporary exhibitions.
History of the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum has a rich and varied history. It can trace its organizational roots all the way back to 1823, when the Brooklyn Apprentices’ Library was first established (among its lasting claims to fame is once employing Walt Whitman as a librarian). In the 1840s, this library would join forces with another organization, the Brooklyn Lyceum, to form what was then known as the Brooklyn Institute.
Fast forward almost 50 years, and the Brooklyn Institute set out to construct an elaborate facility to house its burgeoning collection. It would change its name to the Brooklyn Museum and commission the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White to design its grand new home right alongside Brooklyn Botanic Garden (which was being designed at roughly the same time). So began a lengthy construction process, with work on the entire project not being completed until the late 1920s. In the intervening years significant changes would continue to be made to the Brooklyn Museum, with it eventually being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
What’s at the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum’s collection is a strong mixture of permanent holdings and temporary exhibits. The temporary exhibitions are, by nature, always changing, but you can expect to encounter anywhere from three to six rotating galleries, regardless of when you visit. For example, recent exciting (temporary) exhibitions have featured everything from Andy Warhol to Christian Dior to indigenous American artworks that probe the issue of climate change.
Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection is impressive, too. Numbered amongst its galleries you’ll experience notable exhibits devoted to Ancient Egyptian art, Assyrian art, American art, the Decorative arts, and Judy Chicago’s famed feminist masterwork, The Dinner Party. Rest assured, this quick rundown just scratches the service of what you can see here.
There are multiple food options found on-site at Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Museum Café is your go-to for something simple and fast. The Café’s casual menu focuses on classics like fresh salads, sandwiches, and snacks. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more formal, check out The Norm. This sit-down restaurant’s menu is full of elegant takes on favorites like burgers, smoked salmon, and grilled chicken kale salads. When the weather allows, Brooklyn Museum also hosts a food truck servicing its lovely outdoor sculpture garden.
For those visitors wanting to take a piece of the museum home with them, you’ll find an eclectic shop on the premises, too. There you’ll have your pick of clothing, home goods, books, souvenirs, and a wide range of artworks pertaining to current exhibits and more.
Tips for Visiting the Brooklyn Museum
- Entry to the Brooklyn Museum are included on several money saving tourist passes including the New York Pass and NY Explorer Pass.
- You’ll need to think about what exactly you want to see at the Brooklyn Museum before you visit, as there are two types of tickets available here. General Admission tickets are cheaper and will get you into the permanent galleries and some temporary exhibits. However, other temporary exhibits found here require “special tickets” that will run you significantly more.
- Brooklyn Museum offers a variety of guided tours to guests in groups of all sizes. If this is the sort of thing that might interest you, just be sure to inquire about it in advance of your visit.
- Don’t forget to see the replica Statue of Liberty while you’re here! Found just outside the museum, it makes for a fabulous photo op.
- Brooklyn Museum regularly runs special events like, say, staff art historians discussing current exhibits. Check out the museum’s calendar of events online if you think you might be interested in catching one of these experiences while you’re visiting.
- Given its prominent location, for those so inclined Brooklyn Museum can be seamlessly combined with several other major attractions. Nearby highlights would include the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Prospect Park Zoo, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.