Guide to the Brooklyn Museum

Christina Parrella

The Brooklyn Museum is one of New York City’s premier cultural institutions. In addition to holding a fascinating mix of contemporary and historical exhibits, it ranks among the country’s largest and oldest art museums—and as the most visited NYC collection outside of Manhattan. The grand beaux-arts edifice opened on Eastern Parkway in 1897; today, there’s more to see inside than ever. The museum contains roughly 1.5 million works of art that span millennia and come from every corner of the globe. Highlights include the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art (the first of its kind in the US), the Ancient Egyptian Art gallery and the Visible Storage + Study Center. Here’s our guide on how to make the most of a visit, moving floor by floor through the museum’s permanent galleries (note: the second floor is closed for renovations).

How to Get There
2, 3, 4 or 5 to Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum, S to Botanic Garden

200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday & Friday–Sunday, 11am–6pm; Thursday, 11am–10pm

$16 adults; $10 for students and those over 61. Visitors 19 and under get in free.


First Floor
Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden: This space contains architectural details (angels, lions, horses) that once graced the facades of New York City buildings. Made from a variety of materials including brownstone and marble, the pieces date from 1880 to 1910.

Egyptian Galleries. Courtesy, Brooklyn Museum. Photo: Jonathan Dorado

Third Floor
Ancient Egyptian Art:
The collection of Egyptian art and artifacts encompasses 1,200 objects from as far back as 3500 BC. Make sure to see Head from a Female Sphinx and the Mummy Chamber, which features “Lady” Hor of the 22nd Dynasty (a scan proved the mummy to be male) and Thothirdes, a priest from the same dynasty.

European Art: Though the collection is small (around 60 pieces), it flaunts some big names: Rodin, Goya and Monet, for a start. The array of sculptures, drawings, paintings and prints begins with the early Renaissance and runs up to the early 20th century.

"The Dinner Party," Judy Chicago. Courtesy, Brooklyn Museum. Photo: JongHeon Martin Kim

Fourth Floor
Decorative Arts and Period Rooms:
A large portion of the fourth floor is dedicated to presenting a picture of American and European life from the 17th to 20th centuries. The 23 period rooms comprise bed chambers, dining areas and complete residences. There’s a replica 1725 home that belonged to a New England sea captain and a lavish parlor from a late-1800s Italianate house. Don’t miss the Jan Martense Schenck House, an entire (original) Dutch farmhouse from Flatlands, Brooklyn, that was part of the Dutch settlement in the late 1600s.

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: This museum space is the first of its kind dedicated exclusively to showcasing female artists. The centerpiece is Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, a banquet-table installation with 39 place settings that pay tribute to female artists, activists and leaders.

"George Washington" (1796), Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy, Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Museum Purchase Fund

Fifth Floor
American Art
: This section, which includes indigenous art from as far back as 4000 BC and moves through the colonial period up to modern day, holds around 350 works. You’ll find a wide variety of pieces: clay pottery, a 19th-century Sioux dress shirt, representations of US presidents and so on. A bust of Abraham Lincoln, inspired by his 1860 speech at Cooper Union, and Gilbert Stuart’s oft-reproduced portrait of George Washington are among the highlights.

Visible Storage Center: This library-like showcase holds about 2,000 works. It’s a behind-the-scenes look into the storage process of the museum, which cannot exhibit all of its works at once. These pieces are used for research but displayed for the public: check out Tiffany lamps, locally made ceramics and miniature historical portraits.

The Norm. Courtesy, Brooklyn Museum

What Else?
On Thursday evenings and the first Saturday of every month, the museum offers special events. The First Saturdays program grants free admission from 5 to 11pm and runs programming related to current exhibitions. Every Thursday evening the museum stays open from 6 to 10pm for activities like salsa dancing, lectures and documentary screenings.

There are two dining options at the museum. Saul Bolton’s The Norm, which overlooks the Sculpture Garden, melds cuisines from around the world including Indian, Mexican and Caribbean. More casual fare is available at the first-floor café.