Asia Society & Museum

Upper East Side

Founded in 1956 by John D Rockefeller III (an avid collector of Asian art), this cultural center hosts fascinating exhibits (Buddhist art of Myanmar, retrospectives of leading Chinese artists, contemporary Southeast Asian art), as well as Jain sculptures and Nepalese Buddhist paintings. Daily tours (free with admission) are offered at 2pm Tuesday through Sunday year-round and at 6:30pm Friday (excluding summer months). Note the museum is generally closed for three weeks or so in August and June for turning over exhibitors.

The 'Society' part of the equation brings abundant cultural fare: concerts, film screenings, lectures and culinary events (tea tastings, ramen-making demos). You’ll also find great gift ideas at the small museum shop, with its silk scarves, delicate jewelry, children’s stories and music from Central and East Asia.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Upper East Side attractions

1. Frick Collection


This spectacular art collection sits in a mansion built by steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, one of the many such residences lining the section of Fifth Ave…

2. Met Breuer

0.25 MILES

The newest branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in the landmark former Whitney Museum building (designed by Marcel Breuer; there's an…

3. Temple Emanu-El

0.32 MILES

Founded in 1845 as the first Reform synagogue in New York, this temple, completed in 1929, is now one of the largest Jewish houses of worship in the world…

4. Arsenal

0.38 MILES

Built between 1847 and 1851 (one of two buildings whose construction predates Central Park) as a munitions supply depot for the New York State National…

5. The Mall

0.42 MILES

This Parisian-style promenade – allegedly the only straight line in Central Park – lined with rare North American elms, is flanked by statues of literati…

6. Central Park Zoo

0.42 MILES

This small zoo, which gained fame for its part in the animated movie Madagascar, is home to penguins, snow leopards and lemurs. Feeding times in the sea…

7. Bethesda Terrace

0.45 MILES

The arched and frescoed walkways of Bethesda Terrace, crowned by the magnificent Bethesda Fountain, have long been a gathering area for New Yorkers of all…

8. Bethesda Fountain

0.46 MILES

This neoclassical fountain is one of New York’s largest. It’s capped by the Angel of the Waters, who is supported by four cherubim. The fountain, created…