This five-story, 560,000-sq-ft beaux-arts building was designed by McKim, Mead & White in the early 1890s and meant to be the largest single-site museum in the world – but the plan lost steam when Brooklyn was incorporated into NYC. Today, it houses more than 1.5 million objects, including ancient artifacts, 19th-century period rooms, and sculptures and paintings from across several centuries.
A particular highlight is the excellent collection of Egyptian art, which spans a period of 5000 years. Housed in the 3rd-floor galleries, it includes bas-reliefs and Roman-era portraits, some of which are drawn from the museum’s ongoing excavations in Egypt. A mummy chamber holds sarcophagi and ritual objects. But the most incredible piece is the so-called ‘Bird Lady,’ a delicate terra-cotta figurine with an abstracted face and arms raised above her head, dating back to 3300–3650 BC. Look for her in a stand-alone vitrine.
The museum possesses one of the great collections of American art, including an iconic portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart; Childe Hassam’s celebrated 1900 urban landscape, Late Afternoon, New York, Winter; and dozens of paintings by late-19th-century portraitist John Singer Sargent. Don't miss a trip to the 5th floor to see them.
A Room of Their Own
This is one of the few mainstream arts institutions to devote permanent space to showcasing the works of women artists. The 8300-sq-ft Elizabeth Sackler Center for Feminist Art on the 4th floor exhibits an engaging mix of one-person and historical shows that examine topics like women in video or pop art. At the gallery’s core, you’ll find Judy Chicago’s seminal 1979 installation, The Dinner Party.
There are other worthwhile galleries devoted to African sculpture, Latin American textiles, and contemporary art. For a peek behind the scenes, head to the Visible Storage and Study Center on the 5th floor to see glass cases stuffed with everything from vintage bicycles to a bulbous Gaston Lachaise sculpture.
On the first Saturday of every month except September, the museum stays open until 11pm and hosts a free evening of art, performances and live music (sometimes there's even a dance floor set up). It's a big draw for families.
- Egyptian art
- The Dinner Party
- American art
- Visible Storage Center
- A number of tours are offered free with admission, covering general museum highlights or focusing on a particular gallery, such as the Egyptian art collection or The Dinner Party.
- The museum is right next door to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; seeing the two sights together makes for a wonderful day of Brooklyn art and nature.
Take a Break
The museum's 1st floor has a casual snack counter, as well as more gourmet fare and bespoke cocktails in the elegant Norm Restaurant.
Just one block north of the museum is Lincoln Station, a great all-day cafe for coffee, beer and food.
Subway 2/3 to Eastern Pkwy-Brooklyn Museum.
Brooklyn's most important art museum.