For those willing to brave the long lines at security, a visit to the headquarters of the United Nations is one of the great experiences that New York City has to offer. The best way to experience the U.N. as a visitor is on a guided tour--but these require advance registration and limited availability can mean planning several weeks or months in advance. Fortunately, the U.N. can be visited outside of tour--though you will not have access to the Assembly Hall. The U.N. hosts several small exhibitions exploring topics of human rights and social justice that are free to visit.
What You Will See
Tours of the United Nations are offered several times a day in many languages and bring visitors into some of the most important diplomatic spaces on the planet. However, the ticketed tours can fill up fast. If you do not manage to join a tour, you can still visit the U.N.'s gallery. The free space is used to display selections from the United Nations Art Collection, as well as rotating temporary exhibits which examine issues such as modern slavery, sustainable development, human rights, and the history of the United Nations itself.
Why You Should Go
With over 1 million visitors a year, the headquarters of the United Nations is rightly one of the most visited sites in New York City. However, few people treat is as a compelling and contemporary gallery space. The security lines can be daunting and summer crowds can be offputting, but the gallery and museum spaces inside the U.N. reward those willing to brave the throngs of tour busses.