Exhibition of Akari paper lanterns at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Two of the Best Museums in New York City Are In Astoria, Queens

When you think of museums in New York City, the usual Manhattan-centric suspects immediately come to mind: MoMA, The Gug, and The Met. If you’re a hardcore museum hound, two of our other favorites, The Whitney or The Frick, might dance their way onto your list. Or perhaps you have children, in which case you’ll think of The American Museum of Natural History, because you’ve seen Night at the Museum no less than a hundred times. Now, what if we told you that two of the best museums in New York City aren’t even located in Manhattan?

That’s right, they aren’t. And they aren’t located in that other borough, Brooklyn, either. We’re referring to The Museum of the Moving Image and The Noguchi Museum, both of which are located in the charming Queens neighborhood of Astoria. We’ve written about the many virtues of visiting Astoria, from the expansive street art on view at Welling Court Mural Project to the delicious food at quirky neighborhood eatery, Queens Comfort. So here’s what we’d love your takeaway to be: Astoria is awesome, and these two museums are just as deserving of a place in your consciousness as those other beloved institutions.




Museum of the Moving Image

Exterior of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Girl viewing the Portrait Photography display at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Guy playing with vintage Donkey Kong arcade game at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Star Trek figurines and costume on display at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Fun fact: We’re both huge movie buffs, and it was one of the things we bonded over early in our relationship. We spent many a late night watching Young Frankenstein and The Princess Bride. We were regulars at the Cedar Lee, a tiny theater in Cleveland that screened John Waters films. Our Netflix subscription started back when you had to mail DVDs! (There’s nothing like referencing two obsolete concepts–DVDs and snail mail–to make you feel like a dinosaur.) Digital entertainment has not only changed how we consume entertainment, but also what we consume. And at The Museum of the Moving Image, they celebrate ALL of it.

Here’s what you need to know about The Museum of the Moving Image: It’s fun. A lot of fun. Adult and child alike will find something to love. You can participate in public discussions, take advantage of educational programs, or peruse their vast collection of film, television, and digital media-related artifacts. You immediately get the sense that the curators here could quote Fight Club, but they could also give you an oral history of viral YouTube videos. And all of this comes through in short-term installations like the quirky GIF Elevator or permanent exhibitions like the much celebrated Jim Henson retrospective.

Your admission fee to the museum also gives you access to a same-day movie screening as long as the cost of the ticket is equal to or less than the cost of admission (subject to availability). So be sure to check their calendar, you might get lucky and score a double-feature!

Pro Tip: If you have the time to spare, pop in to the surrounding shops, many of which are similarly movie-themed.

Location:
36-01 35th Ave

Hours:
Wednesday–Thursday: 10:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m.–8:00 p.m. (free admission: 4:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.)
Saturday and Sunday: 10:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Closed Monday (except for select holiday openings)
Closed Tuesday (except for group visits by appointment)




The Noguchi Museum

“When the time came for me to work with larger spaces, I conceived them as gardens, not as sites with objects but as relationships to a whole”
– Isamu Noguchi

Young girl in a room of stone sculptures at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Girl standing among display of round Akari paper lanterns of varying sizes at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Sculpture made of Persian Travertine in 1964 by Isamu Noguchi at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
The Mountain, Isamu Noguchi, 1964

Open-air Sculpture Garden with bamboo plant and other trees at the Noguchi Museum in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Internationally-renowned American artist Isamu Noguchi may have died in 1988, but his eponymous museum, one of his greatest achievements, is alive and well. What’s unique about the Noguchi Museum is that even though it’s filled with stone sculptures, it manages not to feel like a cold, hard exhibition gallery. You can instantly tell there is a deeply personal attachment between the artist and the space. Noguchi was living across the street when he purchased the 1920s industrial building with the express purpose of displaying his life’s work. He had exceptional insight when he conceived it, incorporating cohesive elements of nature and design.

At the Noguchi Museum you’ll find the lower level dedicated to Noguchi’s many works, curated by the artist himself. The upper level, however, includes temporary displays that pay homage to the design ideas and aesthetics he advanced. On our recent visit we found a beautiful display of hanging paper lanterns, as well as an oversized Akari light sculpture formed by stacking 2-foot by 2-foot pyramids. The end result is an 8-foot temple, enshrining one of Noguchi’s very first Akari designs.

Location:
9-01 33rd Rd

Hours:
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 10 am–5 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11 am–6 pm
Closed Monday & Tuesday

Getting there

View of the Queensboro Bridge from the NYC Ferry traveling the East River via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

View of the Pepsi Cola sign and tall buildings in Long Island City from the NYC Ferry traveling along the East River via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Long Island City is Astoria’s stellar next door neighbor(hood), and we recently tipped you off that it’s a mere 10-minute subway ride from Manhattan. Astoria is only slightly further north. But if you’re coming from Manhattan, consider taking the NYC Ferry. From Manhattan, the ferry stops in Long Island City before dropping you off in Astoria, where you’re just a short walk away from Socrates Sculpture Park and the Noguchi Museum. Weather permitting, head to the upper deck for amazing panoramic views of the city.




Pair it with:

Brunch at Ovelia

Interior of Ovelia Restaurant with bar open to sidewalk in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog

Beet-infused eggs with toast and red potatoes at Ovelia Restaurant in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Beet Omelet — beet-infused eggs with goat cheese, dill and scallions
Scrambled eggs in a tomato sauce with toast and yellow potatoes at Ovelia Restaurant in Astoria, Queens via Mad Hatters NYC Blog
Strapatsada Omelet — scrambled eggs in 4-hour tomato sauce

Astoria is ground zero for Greek food in New York City, so much so that it is deserving of its own post. Ovelia, however, is the perfect gateway restaurant to begin exploring Greek dining in the neighborhood. It offers hearty, eclectic fare, often with a Greek twist. The Fried Feta Cubes and Baklava Pancakes are wildly popular, but the egg dishes should not be overlooked. Portions are hefty, and brunch entrees are accompanied by complimentary cocktail, making for good value on top of the good food.

[Runner up: Sugar & Water NYC]


Sugar & Water NYC is a small, relatively new bakery where you’ll find tasty, eye-catching, cake-style donuts. But don’t miss the dossant (a donut-croissant hybrid), which is light and delicious.

Thank you to NYC Ferry and the Noguchi Museum for their hospitality.

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A Pinterest pin "The Best Museums in Astoria, Queens, NYC" with round paper lanterns hanging in the upstairs section of the Noguchi Museum via Mad Hatters NYC blog.

-L. & J.

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Wysh
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Wysh

Added to my todo list next time I’m in nyc in October. Been to the moving image museum, but not in ages.

Lauren
Guest

I actually went to the Museum of the Moving Image for the first time a few days before my birthday…it was amazing! We went later on a Sunday and nobody was there, so it was perfect for playing with all of the interactive exhibits. My brother and I did pretty much all of the voice overs in the sound recording room! LOL

So my next question is…when are you guys moving to Astoria?? 😉

Tara
Guest

WOW! How little do I know about queens and I do not even go about reading about it. Your blog is truly informative.
The Noguchi Museum looks super cool. The paper lanterns and the garden make me want to go now.
The Museum of the Moving Image seems interesting. The part about The Princess Bride made me smile. Just this Friday, I was getting Ashwin to watch Princess Diaries. I fell a sleep mid way through. We are still to finish the rest.

lynn
Guest

I love the photos of the paper lanterns…I was tempted by them in the store at the Noguchi Museum. Funny, Joe had been wanting to take me there for years, but I didn’t get there ntil we’d moved far away, and were back in NY on vacation. It’s really a lovely place to spend an afternoon, but next time I’ve got to do Greek food afterwards! I’m glad you’re posting about Astoria – such an interesting place. 🙂

Cynthia | Adventuring Woman
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I am a hardcore museum hound, and you are adding to my very long list of museums I want to get to in NYC. The Noguchi Museum is especially fascinating, though I love a moving image as well. Very fond of Greek food, so good to know Astoria is ground zero for that. I hope you do dedicate a post to it! Baklava pancakes sound pretty darn awesome. Hopefully I’d still have room for a dossant.