5 of the best art stops in New York, USA

The ‘City That Never Sleeps’ is infamous for countless reasons, from the iconic Statue of Liberty to the indulgent pastrami sandwiches from Katz’s Deli. Besides its vivacious nightlife and mouthwatering cuisine, New York City also attracts tourists from all over the globe with its thriving passion for the arts, earning it the title of cultural capital of America – and even the world. The city boasts hundreds of cultural institutions, the most famous of which are located on Fifth Avenue’s ‘Museum Mile’. Boroughs other than Manhattan also have much to offer, with new art locations emerging in Brooklyn and Queens. Much like the city, New York’s art scene is constantly changing, with new exhibitions constantly arriving. Here’s our list of top New York art stops:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Better known by locals and museum buffs as ‘the Met’, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is perhaps New York’s most famous art spot. Located on ‘Museum Mile’, the impressive museum holds a number of titles, including the largest museum in the US and the fifth most visited museum in the world. Over the last 150 years, the Met has acquired a collection of over two million works which are divided across seventeen sections, from Ancient Greek to Modern Art. Some of the most important pieces of art are held at 1000 Fifth Avenue, such as Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates and Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Madonna and Child. The Met offers a consistent flow of exhibitions throughout the year; the most popular exhibition ever held at the museum, Treasures of Tutankhamen (1976-1979), saw over a million visitors come to admire the artefacts discovered during Howard Carter’s 1922 excavation. Since 1946, the museum has also been host to the star-studded Met Gala, which is held annually to raise funds for the institution. Until September, the Costume Institution is presenting an exhibition dedicated to the work of avant-garde designer, Rei Kawakubo.

MoMA

In 1929, Rockefeller’s daughter-in-law, Abby, conceived the idea of a museum dedicated solely to modern art. After ten years of ground-breaking exhibitions – presenting the likes of Vincent Van Gogh and Picasso – in various locations, the Museum of Modern Art moved to an ‘International Style’ building on 53rd Street. With a collection of over 150,000 pieces, it is unsurprising that the MoMa is home to some of the most important examples of modern and contemporary art. Highlights include Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. The MoMA also holds over 22,000 films, with the museum’s first director, Alfred Barr, pioneering the collection, exhibition and conservation of film in the early 20th century. In 1999, MoMA merged with the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Centre to create a second location in the borough of Queens, named the MoMA PS1. Both locations have a full exhibition calendar, with highlights this year including works from American painter and graphic artist, Robert Rauschenberg, until September.

The Guggenheim

In the late 19th century, businessman Solomon R. Guggenheim began collecting paintings by the Old Masters. After meeting abstract artist Hilla von Rebay, Guggenheim switched his interests from Old Masters to modern art. As his collection grew and gathered more public interest, Guggenheim established his own foundation in 1937, obtaining works from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Léger and Joan Miró. Twelve years later, Guggenheim passed away after requesting that architect Frank Lloyd Wright design a building to house his ever-growing collection. In 1959, the Fifth Avenue building opened to the public – but not without controversy, as many artists and architects opposed the modernist, dominating design. Despite this initial controversy, the Guggenheim has become one of the most popular art spots in the city, with over a million visitors passing through its doors every year. Up until September, the museum is displaying Jackson Pollock’s poured painting, Alchemy, from Peggy Guggenheim’s collection.

Pierogi

Over the last three decades, the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg has been transformed by gentrification, seeing a sharp rise in the number of art galleries in the area. In 1994, Pierogi was opened by couple Joe Amrhein and Susan Swenson, with the aim of spotlighting emerging artists, particularly from the neighbourhood. With rising house prices and living costs driving out the local talent, Joe and Susan chose to move their gallery to the lower east side of Manhattan last year. Despite relocating the main gallery to the city centre, their additional exhibition space, the Boiler, remains in Brooklyn, with a larger space allowing for large-scale installations. The Manhattan gallery’s current exhibition is running until mid-August, displaying over 20 up-and-coming and mid-career artist; highlights include the vibrant, rhythmic patterns of New York native, Reed Anderson and Jean Blackburn’s sculptures manipulating traditional household furniture.

SculptureCenter

Long Island City, Queens has been home to SculptureCenter since 2001, after being founded by sculptor Dorothea Denslow some 70 years earlier. Denslow founded the institution as ‘The Clay Club’, inviting young artists to create, discuss, and learn about sculpture. Renaming the institution as the Sculpture Center, the group established itself on East 69th Street in Manhattan, presenting major artists and their works for over 50 years. During this time, important sculptors of the 20th century were exhibited by the museum, including Isamu Noguchi and Alexander Calder – the inventor of the mobile sculpture. At its current location, the museum continues to hold seasonal exhibitions featuring the works of emerging and established, national and international artists. From September until December, LA-born artist Sam Anderson’s works will be on display in an exhibition entitled The Park, consisting of a series of sculptures capturing a town square in mid-movement.

Pontus Silfverstolpe is Co-Founder of Barnebys.

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