Sprawling doesn’t even begin to describe this Manhattan institution: It’s one of the few spots in the city where you could spend literally an entire day and see only a fraction of the holdings. Behind the doors of its iconic neoclassical facade lie 17 curatorial collections spanning countless eras and cultural perspectives, from prehistoric Egyptian artifacts to contemporary photography. Those seeking to satisfy their anthropological curiosity can explore the extensive assemblage of musical instruments, weapons and armor or the Costume Institute’s centuries of wearable art. And for committed museumgoers who have made their way through the permanent collections—an admirable feat—special exhibitions merit return visits year after year. Recent blockbusters have examined the career of the late designer Alexander McQueen and featured the works of Pablo Picasso. —Carolyn Stanley

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