Visit the Best of the Best East End Museums

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill.
The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. Photo credit: Jarno Huttunen

Look to the past, look to the sea and look to the sky at the Dan’s Best of the Best Museums in the Hamptons and on the North Fork. As voted on by Dan’s Papers readers, these are the East End’s premier destinations to take in culture and history and learn science.

LongHouse Reserve (133 Hands Creek Rd, East Hampton; 631-604-5330, “exemplifies living with art in all its forms.” Founded by textile designer and author Jack Lenor Larsen, at this museum the exhibits are the gardens and large sculptures. LongHouse earned the platinum award for Hamptons museums.

Guild Hall (158 Main St, East Hampton; 631-324-0806, is home to both the John Drew Theater and the Guild Hall Museum, founded by 1931, the gold Best of the Best winner on the South Fork. The permanent collection includes works by such prominent artists as Howard Russell Butler, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, April Gornik, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close and Willem de Kooning. Current exhibitions include Lichtenstein and Hal Buckner.

The silver honoree, Parrish Art Museum (279 Montauk Hwy, Water Mill; 631-283-2118, is more than a century old but since 2012 has called a new 34,400-square-foot Herzog & de Meuron-designed building in Water Mill home. Seven sky-lit galleries are dedicated to the museum’s permanent collection, featuring many members of the East End’s artists’ colony, and additional galleries feature ever-changing exhibitions. Lichtenstein’s Tokyo Brushstroke I & II, his 1994 mega sculptures, are on display at the museum entrance and draw attention as motorists travel down Montauk Highway.

Southampton Historical Museum (17 Meeting House Ln, Southampton; 631-283-2494, manages the Rogers Mansion in the center of Southampton Village plus the 1660 Thomas Halsey Homestead, the Pelletreau Silver Shop—the longest continuously operated trade shop in the U.S.—and the Conscience Point Historic Site and Nature Walk. The museum has led the charge this year on the celebrations of the 375th anniversary of the settlement of Southampton. It was awarded the bronze.

East End Seaport Museum (3rd St, Greenport; 631-477-2100, is the platinum museum on the North Fork., celebrating the East End’s maritime heritage. The museum includes the Bug Lighthouse, an aquarium, blacksmith shop and seasonal exhibitions. Each year, the museum puts on the East End Maritime Festival. The 26th annual festival is September 25-27.

Custer Institute & Observatory (1115 Main Bayview Rd, Southold; 631-765-2626, took the gold. Established in 1927, it is the oldest public observatory on Long Island. The observatory is open to the public every Saturday from after dusk until midnight, staffed by volunteers who give tours of the facilities and the night’s sky.

East End Arts Council (133 East Main St, Riverhead; 631-727-0900, is the silver winner, earning its spot for its gallery highlighting Long Island artists and its events promoting music and art year-round.

Dan’s Best of the Best is an annual contest. Vote now for your favorite museums and more.

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