New York: 10 places to boost your cultural experience as in your favorite fictions

The panoply of cultural activities is like the city itself: oversized. To find your way, visit a museum with fantastic collections or attend a concert in a mythical hall, just follow the guide…

Metropolitan Museum of Art

On Gossip Girl, the famous steps of this emblematic museum serve as a lunchroom for the Queen of the high school and her court. For numerous years, Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) possesses this title, then Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) takes over. It’s forbidden to sit higher up than the Queen. This position symbolises her superiority.

The figures alone are dizzying: more than 2 million works of which 250,000 are exhibited throughout the 2,000,000 square feet of the edifice, 7 million visitors a year… The Met is one of the biggest museums in the world and possesses some unique works. And as art should be accessible to all, the entrance fee is a donation and you choose the amount.

American Museum of Natural History

On Friends, after having succeeded in his palaeontology studies, Ross (David Schwimmer) works in this rather oddly named museum under the direction of Dr. Ledbetter (Michael Ensign). He invites Rachel for a romantic evening which ends up on animal hides. This museum of Prehistoric History doesn’t exist but the American Museum of Natural History is quite real and fascinating. 

As we mention in our guide New York of 1000 cult movies, series, musics, comics and novels, with 32 million specimens of which 3 million in Palaeontology alone, this venerable institution presents a complete panorama of natural science history as well as the history of human civilisation. Experience “old age” in the rooms with gigantic dinosaur skeletons.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

On Men In Black, the first chase between agent J and an alien takes place in this magnificent modern art museum designed by the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. What’s unique is its helical structure: the visitor enters by the top and spirals progressively down a slightly sloped ramp to finish on the ground floor. 

The exhibits are remarkable just as is the setting. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, deceased before the inauguration in 1959, this museum offers the visitor a unique journey: first you take the elevator to the top, then you spiral down through the museum.

Museum of Modern Art

On Manhattan, While he’s looking at a photography exposition in this museum with Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), his girlfriend, Isaac runs into his best friend Yale (Michael Murphy) with his mistress, Mary. This first meeting is a turning point. 

Salvador Dali, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Piet Mondrian, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne….and Edvard Munch whose painting “The Scream” is to the MoMa what the Mona Lisa is to the Louvre. Let’s say the Museum of Modern Art is compulsory. With more than 3 million visitors each year, it is the third most visited museum in the United States after the Met and the National Gallery.

Queens Museum of Art

On New Year's Eve, if, like the character Ingrid, you’ve promised yourself to “set foot in each of the boroughs in one day”, this is the place to visit. The Queens Museum of Art has a splendid 860 m2 model of the city! It needed three years and about a hundred artisans to lay out the 900,000 elements. And as the city that never sleeps is always changing, the model is regularly updated.

Apollo Theater

On What's On Your Mind, “To be good or to be gone”: it’s the slogan for the Wednesday Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater evoked here by Eric B. & Rakim.  This stage ready to unveil the stars of tomorrow has existed since 1934. when Ralph Cooper Sr launched a live version of his radio show.  Ella Fitzgerald was one of the first winners and Amateur Night helped launch the careers of Billie Holiday, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, Mariah Carey or even Lauryn Hill.

Listed as a historical monument, ensign of Black American music and springboard for many performers, the legendary Harlem theatre has seen the greatest. James Brown started here and recorded an album live in 1962. In 2006 his open casket allowed fans to pay their respects.

Village Vanguard

On "Live" at The Village Vanguard, about a hundred albums were recorded at the Village Vanguard and that of the saxophonist John Coltrane is one of the most beautiful creations in this collection.  As you go down the steps of the legendary Greenwich Village jazz club, you can almost hear the the notes of Chasin’ the Train.

The place hasn’t changed much since the opening in 1935, in the premises of a former clandestine bar, The Golden Triangle, whose floor is in the shape of an isosceles triangle. The Village Vanguard can be proud having hosted many illustrious jazzmen: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and many others. The club can only contain 123 privileged guests so it is imperative to reserve.


On On The Road, Jack Kerouac was a jazz lover and would  come to this famous New York club. At the time though the club was not at this address, but at 1678 Broadway from 1949 to 1965.  The name pays homage to Charlie Parker, nicknamed the “Bird”. It opened at this address in 1986.

Charlie Parker made it his home, John Coltrane and Miles Davis played here. Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra, Marlene Dietrich and Sammy Davis Jr. were all regular patrons. Open since 1949, the Birdland has moved twice but its aura is intact. It’s even possible to sit at a table.

Carnegie Hall

On Body and Soul, Claude’s life will be transformed by his talent for music.  His voyage, marked by encounters, will lead him to Carnegie Hall.  Historical base for the New York Philharmonic, the legendary concert hall dates from 1891.

The inaugural concert in 1891 was given by Tchaikovsky: that is to say Carnegie Hall set their sights very high right from the beginning. Edith Piaf, Maria Callas, the Beatles or Pink Floyd also performed here. In the 60s, the building with three auditoriums was saved from the demolition planned after the New York Philharmonic Orchestra left.

Ellis Island

On The Godfather: Part II, as a teenager, Vito (Robert de Niro) arrives in Manhattan and is mistakenly given the name Corleone, which corresponds to his hometown in Sicily. Like for all the immigrants at the beginning of the 20th century, the Statue of Liberty is the first thing the young Vito Corleone sees when he reaches America. 

 To visit Ellis Island is to meet up with the history of the United States. This little island, of which 83% of the area is artificial, was required passage for immigrants in quest of a better New World. It is estimated that about 100 million Americans descend from one of the 12 million people that transited here between 1892 and 1954.

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