New York City Museums Decked Out for the Holidays

From dinosaur-shaped trees to quirky menorahs, here are six of our favorite holiday decorations at New York City museums.

The Christmas Tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (photo by Letícia Wouk Almino)

It’s December, and that means holiday lights everywhere. While the boutiques along Fifth Avenue and the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center always get all the attention (not to mention the decked-out houses of particularly enthusiastic residents), there are plenty of other New York City establishments that hold their own when it comes to decorations, particularly museums. Here are some of our favorites. 

Best (Technically) Edible Decoration: The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Every year, the Met installs a tree (complete with Neapolitan nativity scene) in front of its 18th-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid. This year, the museum’s pastry chef has also created a holiday sugar sculpture, on view outside the cafeteria.


Best Animal Topiary Trees: American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is known for its Origami Holiday Tree, but I’d argue that the real treat are the two dinosaur-shaped trees that flank the main entrance. (Unfortunately, that hated Roosevelt equestrian statue is still there, too, but perhaps not for too much longer.)

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Best Staten Island Display: Historic Richmond Town

Celebrating Christmas like it’s 1650, Staten Island’s historic town and farm museum has an array of era-specific holiday decorations and special candlelit tours to show them off — treats included, of course.


Best Original Menorahs: Museum at Eldridge Street

The Museum at Eldridge Street’s Chanukah exhibition, Let There Be Light! Menorahs from the Collection of the Lori and David Moore Family, features more than 150 menorahs from the Moore family’s collection, with examples both traditional and refreshingly quirky.


Best Subtle Fire Escape Lights: Park Avenue Armory

The Park Avenue Armory has wreaths outside its doors and decorated trees inside the building, but the real highlight is on the side of the building, a “fire escape made of stars,” as one Instagram user put it.


Best Holiday Trains: The New-York Historical Society and New York Transit Museum

The tradition of encircling the family tree with a toy train has led to a recurring seasonal train nostalgia. The New-York Historical Society’s Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection showcases vintage train sets, while the New York Transit Museum’s Annual Holiday Train Show creates a miniature New York City encircled by trains. If you prefer your vintage trains life-size, the Transit Museum’s ever-popular Holiday Nostalgia Trains run on the MTA tracks on the Upper East Side on Sundays.

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Holiday Train Show – View from above

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