Large museums can be overwhelming. I remember a while back, one of the writers at Maggie's Farm blog suggested that the best way to see large museums is to pick one limited section and plan to visit just that section. I have tried that a couple of times and it is an enjoyable approach, though as a completionist I have trouble walking away when I have not conquered every room (I am that guy, for example, that has to reveal every single square inch of dark space on a Diablo III map).
However, another alternative is just to visit a smaller museum. Sometimes smaller museums can be disappointing, because the average quality (or at least name-value) of what is being displayed may be lower than in the large museums. Not so the Frick Museum in New York City. This is probably my favorite small museum. The building itself is marvelous, the Fifth Avenue mansion of Henry Frick, Andrew Carnegie's right hand man (among many other ventures). I first went to the museum years ago because it houses one of my favorite paintings, the Comtesse d'Haussonville by Ingres. In addition in just 7 or 8 rooms, it has a virtual who's who of western art history, including Rembrandt, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Gainsborough, Turner, Holbein, Goya, Gilbert Stuart, Whistler, and many others. The ratio of big names to also-rans is just amazing. Walking the halls is like watching the actor list in the opening credits of the movie "A Bridge to Far". My only complaint on this visit is that the Comtesse has been moved to a poor spot for viewing.
Another nice small museum nearby we also went to this weekend was the Neue Gallery, which focuses on German and Austrian art. My wife loves Klimt, which is the reason we went. The museum has a very good collection of Klimt and Egon Schiele, neither of which are really my cup of tea but for those who enjoy these artists it is a nice destination. The third small museum we saw as the Museum of Arts and Design, with a great location on Columbus Circle. We saw an exhibition of American 60's and 70's age-of-Aquarius style clothing. There are also a few craft studios where one can watch designers work. It was fun but probably overpriced for what it was. However, on the 9th floor we went to the restaurant Robert which was really good -- very good food and drop dead gorgeous views of Columbus Circle, the park, and the rest of Manhattan. We had a window table and this was the view:
On the far left, 4 or 5 floors up, is Per Se, one of the top restaurants in Manhattan and perhaps the country. Given how hard it is to get a reservation, this is probably as close as I will come to eating there.