American Museum of Natural History: Founded in 1869, the landmark institution continues to bring the natural world—and galaxies beyond ours—into sharp view. Expect wide-ranging collections, from dinosaurs to recently restored dioramas, as well as shows at the state-of-the-art Hayden Planetarium of the Rose Center for Earth and Space. A special exhibition in spring 2014 spotlights pterosaurs, winged reptiles, and the largest animals known to have flown (April 2014–January 2015).
Guggenheim Museum: Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic design allows visitors to view the museum’s exhibitions via a single, coiled ramp. The collection begins from the late 19th-century, encompassing Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, abstract, and Surrealist painting and sculpture, European and American minimalist art, as well as conceptual art. In 2014, the Guggenheim presents the first comprehensive exhibition in the United States devoted to the Italian Futurist movement (February 21–September 1).
Neue Galerie: Occupying a beautifully restored Fifth Avenue mansion, the Neue Galerie highlights German and Austrian paintings of the early 20th century—Kandinsky, Klee, Otto Dix, Schiele, Klimt. It also displays the furniture and refined sensibility of decorative objects from the Wiener Werkstätte. Pick up your own souvenir at the well-curated gift shop or a treat from the old world–style café.
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts: America’s preeminent center for the arts counts 11 resident organizations, among them, the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, Lincoln Center Theater, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Juilliard School, and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Together, they present more than 3,000 performances and events, including the annual Lincoln Center and Mostly Mozart festivals. As part of its recent 50th anniversary, the Lincoln Center campus benefited from a triumphant makeover by Diller, Scofidio and Renfro that embraces audiences anew and includes the thorough redesign and renovation of Alice Tully Hall.
Park Avenue Armory: The historic Park Avenue Armory, a 19th-century construction, has been made over as a venue for the creation and presentation of the visual and performing arts. Of note in 2014: the New York stage debuts of Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston in Macbeth, directed by Rob Ashford and Branagh in a striking production set in the building’s 55,000-square-foot former drill hall (armoryonpark.org).
New York Botanical Garden: Extending over 250 acres of parkland and forest, the New York Botanical Garden has more than a million plants and species in Victorian greenhouses and among hills and outcroppings, and includes 50 discrete gardens. A beloved and sure sign of spring in the city is the Orchid Show, an extraordinary display of thousands of blooms in its conservatories (March 1–April 21, 2014; nybg.org).
Joe’s Pub: This cool and intimate setting within the Public Theater is a showcase for performances by a range of artists: Leonard Cohen, Bebel Gilberto, Norah Jones, Lady Gaga, and emerging artists of every stripe, as well as the pub’s jazz-band-in-residence, The Hot Sardines.
Museum of Modern Art: The midtown institution and its outpost, P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Queens, present defining collections of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture, architecture, design, and photography, along with screenings of films. “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926–1938,” a survey of the Belgian artist’s Surrealist masterworks, and “American Modern,” drawn from the museum’s works of Modernist icons Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Alfred Stieglitz, are on view through January 26, 2014.
New York Public Library: With its proud lions, Patience and Fortitude, at the entrance of this Fifth Avenue landmark, the research institution remains an essential resource to New Yorkers, visitors, and scholars alike. Less well known but not to be overlooked is its robust (and free) exhibition program, which draws from its wide-ranging collections; “Why We Fight: Remembering AIDS Activism,” on view through April 4, 2014, is a tribute to the pivotal work of New Yorkers involved in the early fight to support people living with HIV.
Carnegie Hall: Carnegie Hall brings the musical world to New York City: orchestras, chamber music, and solo recitals by leading singers and instrumentalists, as well as jazz, world music, and pop performances in three auditoriums. Then there are the festivals. For three weeks in February and March 2014, the concert hall considers the artistic legacy and influence of the preeminent music capital in a wide-ranging festival: Vienna: City of Dreams, from the Imperial Baroque to the 20th century.
Additional reporting by Marguerite A. Suozzi, Peter Schlesinger, and Stephanie Sonsino