6 Must See Military Museums in New York

By: Hillary Potts
Posted on Nov 18, 2023

USS Intrepid Aircraft in NYC

6 Must See Military Museums in NYC


An American flag at the 9/11 Memorial
An American flag at the 9/11 Memorial


New York City is known for its iconic skyline, world-famous landmarks, and vibrant culture. But beyond the bright lights and bustling streets, the city also holds a rich military history that has played a key role in shaping the nation's past and present. If you're interested in exploring this fascinating aspect of the Big Apple, you're in luck! We will take you on a journey through six remarkable military museums in NYC that everyone should visit.


For NYC Newcomers


In addition to everyone who moves to New York City, military families relocating to NYC especially find solace in exploring these military museums. They provide a sense of connection to their service and the broader military community. With frequent relocations and adjustments to new environments, moving as a military family can be difficult. These museums not only offer a glimpse into the city's military history but also serve as a reminder of the sacrifices and resilience shared by military families across the nation. It's an opportunity to learn about the city's rich military heritage and the stories of those who have served while navigating the unique experiences of being a military family. Let’s find out about the most interesting military museums in NYC.


The National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Our first stop is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which stands as a solemn tribute to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. This powerful museum is located at the World Trade Center site and commemorates the lives lost during the terrorist attacks. It also honors the brave first responders who risked their lives to save others.

Visitors can expect to see artifacts, personal stories, and multimedia exhibits that provide a deep understanding of the events and their impact. The memorial's reflective pools, situated in the footprint of the Twin Towers, offer a peaceful space for contemplation. It's a moving experience that pays tribute to the strength and resilience of the American people.

The 9/11 Memorial, one of the military museums in NYC
Visit one of the military museums in NYC, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum


Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

One of the most popular military museums in NYC is the Intrepid Museum, located on the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, which served in World War II and the Vietnam War. This massive floating museum showcases an impressive collection of historic aircraft, including the iconic Concorde and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Visitors can explore the carrier's flight deck, tour the submarine Growler, and delve into fascinating exhibitions on space exploration, naval history, and Intrepid's own remarkable journey. It's a must-visit destination for history buffs, aviation enthusiasts, and anyone interested in the intersection of military and space exploration.

Aircraft at the Intrepid Museum
The USS Intrepid Museum offers numerous historic aircraft


New-York Historical Society Museum & Library


The New-York Historical Society Museum & Library offers a comprehensive look at the military history of New York and the nation. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and artwork that span centuries of American history. From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and beyond, this museum provides a detailed account of the city's role in shaping the nation.


One of its standout exhibits is AIDS in New York: The First Five Years, which chronicles the early days of the AIDS epidemic. This museum offers a unique perspective on military history, highlighting the challenges faced by servicemembers and civilians alike during times of crisis.


 Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument


For a dose of history and breathtaking views, head to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument in Riverside Park. This iconic monument was dedicated to the Union Army soldiers and sailors who fought in the American Civil War. It features a striking 96-foot-tall granite column adorned with sculptures and intricate reliefs.


Visitors can climb the spiral staircase to the top for panoramic views of the Hudson River and Manhattan's skyline. While not a traditional museum, this monument is a testament to the sacrifices made during a pivotal period in American history and is a serene spot for reflection.


 New York City Police Museum


The New York City Police Museum offers an in-depth look at the history of law enforcement in the city. Among its many exhibits, you'll find sections dedicated to the NYPD's involvement in wartime efforts, such as World War II. Learn about the challenges and responsibilities of the police force during wartime and how they worked alongside the military to maintain order and security.


The museum also features artifacts, documents, and interactive displays that provide insight into the NYPD's contributions during times of crisis and conflict. It's a unique perspective on the intersection of law enforcement and military efforts in New York City.


The New York City Fire Museum


Our final stop is the New York City Fire Museum, which pays tribute to the brave firefighters who have served the city for centuries. While not exclusively military, it highlights the heroism and dedication of these first responders, who often work in tandem with the military during emergencies.


Visitors can explore vintage fire engines and firefighting equipment and learn about the history of the FDNY. The museum also delves into the role of firefighters in responding to major events like the World Trade Center attacks. It's a testament to the unwavering commitment of these brave individuals.


Burnt parts of a red fire truck
Visiting the New York City Fire Museum is a must

Bonus Stop: Museum of the American Gangster

While not exclusively a military museum, it provides a unique glimpse into the criminal underbelly of the early 20th century. Learn about infamous gangsters like Al Capone and the Prohibition era, tied to military figures and events.

This museum offers a captivating look at organized crime, speakeasies, and the law enforcement efforts to combat them. It's a fascinating detour from traditional military history museums and showcases a different facet of American life during the early 1900s.


In Conclusion

Military museums in NYC offer diverse experiences that shed light on various aspects of American history. Whether you're interested in the events of 9/11, naval and aviation history, the Civil War, or even the world of organized crime, there's something for everyone to discover. So, the next time you're in the Big Apple, make sure to set aside some time to explore these remarkable institutions and gain a deeper appreciation for the military history that has shaped the city and the nation.

About the author Hillary Potts: