The Queens Museum is one of the city's most unexpected pleasures. Its most famous installation is the Panorama of New York City, a gob-smacking 9335-sq-ft miniature NYC, with all buildings accounted for and a 15-minute dusk-to-dawn light simulation. The museum also hosts top exhibitions of global contemporary art, reflecting the diversity of Queens. A fascinating exhibit explores some of the most interesting and avant-garde NYC designs that never came to fruition, realized through drawings and 3-D models.

The museum is housed in a historic building constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair (and once home to the UN), and you'll find a retro-fabulous collection of memorabilia from both the ’39 and ’64 fairs on display (with reproductions in the gift shop).

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Queens attractions

1. Unisphere


Designed for the 1964 World's Fair, this 12-story-high stainless-steel globe is the focal point of Flushing Meadows Park, and the de facto icon of Queens…

2. Flushing Meadows Corona Park

0.15 MILES

Central Queens' biggest attraction is this 1225-acre park, built for the 1939 World’s Fair and dominated by Queens’ most famous landmark, the stainless…

3. New York Hall of Science

0.37 MILES

Occupying a weird 1965 building, rippling with stained glass, this science museum is unapologetically nerdy. An outdoor mini-golf course and North America…

4. Louis Armstrong House

0.99 MILES

At the peak of his career and with worldwide fame at hand, legendary trumpeter Armstrong settled in this modest Queens home, and lived there until his…

5. Greater Astoria Historical Society

4.06 MILES

At research time this labor-of-love organization and community space was in-between physical locations. Once it finds a new home (by end of 2019), expect…

6. Museum of the Moving Image

4.12 MILES

This supercool complex is one of the world's top film, TV and video museums. Galleries show the best of a collection of 130,000-plus artifacts, including…

7. Kaufman Arts District

4.16 MILES

Anchored by the legendary Kaufman Astoria Studios at 34-12 36th St, this up-and-coming district comprises more than 24 blocks of Queens' cultural heart –…

8. Vanderende-Onderdonk House

4.54 MILES

On a mostly deserted block on the border of Bushwick, Brooklyn and Ridgewood, Queens sits the oldest Dutch colonial stone house in New York City. The…