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Just a short drive from Trenton, in the middle of the Princeton University campus, you’ll find the Princeton University Art Museum. Like many University-affiliated art museums, it’s boasts an intimate (but broadly representative) collection of some of history’s top artists from around the world. Scholars and students use it for research, but it’s open to the public, and absolutely worth a visit.
With a bit over 90,000 items, you’ll find a range of things to see in the dozen or so rooms that the museum offers. Most people could probably enjoy a visit of about 1-2 hours, though certainly an art aficionado could spend more time. We are particularly taken with their Monets (there are currently three on display, each of which is breathtaking in its own way). The museum doesn’t have one specific area of specialization, so you will find a range from ancient to modern all within a pretty small footprint. Its quite invigorating to go from ancient pottery to modern Picasso in just a few footsteps, and that’s part of what makes small museums such as this unique.
The museum offers several evening activities (yoga in the galleries is a popular one!) as well a series of special exhibitions that change over the course of the year. There are also regular museum tours on weekends (check the museum’s website for updated information on dates and times).
The most remarkable thing about the Art Museum, however, is that it’s utterly free. There is not even a “suggested donation,” you can truly waltz into the museum and enjoy the quiet respite from the bustle of campus life without spending a cent.
If you’re driving in to visit, you may find parking to be a challenge. Many University-owned lots and garages (including the “New South” garage behind the new Dinky Station) are free on evenings and weekends. During the day, your best bet is park in downtown Princeton by Nassau Street or Witherspoon Street (either at a metered space or in one of the three paid garages) and walk across campus to the museum. While you’re crossing campus, poke your head into the Princeton University Chapel, a stunning collegiate Gothic building that will make you feel like you’re visiting Europe. The doors are usually open and the stained glass windows are spectacular.
Activities | Art | Kids