My Top 12 Places to See Art in NYC
If you’re visiting New York City, it’s imperative you check out some art! I’m a huge art lover and seeing art around my beautiful city is one of my favorite cultural activities. After years of countless gallery crawls, opening days at exhibits, and standing in line for viral art pop-ups, I’ve gotten to know the art lover’s scene pretty well around here. I’ve curated a list of my personal favorite places to see art around the city.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of New York City’s most prominent cultural institutions just happens to be my favorite art museum in the entire world! I absolutely adore the Met and visit at least twice a month—thank you membership card! From it’s stunning Victorian Gothic architecture to the grand staircase, the 150-year-old Met houses thousands of years of culture. If you’re here during the summer be sure to visit the annual Costume Institute Exhibit (yup, the ones from the Met Gala!) and definitely make a trip up to the roof to enjoy the views of Central Park!
Whitney Museum of American Art
One of the coolest museums in the city, the Whitney sits in the heart of the Meatpacking and showcases awesome contemporary art. The building itself is a stunning design, with huge balconies and terraces offering Instagram-worthy views of the city.
Studio Museum Harlem
Celebrating Black culture and African-American heritage the Studio Museum always features inspiring exhibits. Be sure to check out their site for talks, documentary screenings and other cool exhibits they constantly have on their calendar! After, make sure to explore the neighborhood—I used to live in West Harlem when I was a student at Columbia and it’s one of my favorite areas of the city full of cute stores, great food, live music, and culture.
The Galleries in Chelsea
About once a month I’ll make my way to Chelsea and meander the blocks between 10th and 11 Avenues. From blocks 19 through 26 are dozens of New York City’s best art galleries. Some of my favorite galleries that always have unique and thought provoking exhibitions include David Zwirner, Lehmann Maupin, Gagosian, and Tanya Bonakdar. After your gallery crawl, be sure to climb the steps up to the High Line and have lunch at one of the sceney, but delicious spots in Meatpacking!
The Armory Show
For one weekend every March, New York’s most popular art fair, the Armory Show comes into town. Be sure to snag your tickets in advance and get ready to get lost in some of the best art from around the world! It’s huge and so worth checking out if you’re in town. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe the next one is going to be September 2021.
A hidden gem just a couple blocks up from the Met, the Neue Galerie is home to some of the best Austrian and German art in all of New York. It’s prize-winning piece, is Guztav Klimt’s Adele Bloch-Bauer I also known as The Woman in Gold! I get so excited knowing that historic painting sits right here in the city! The story of the painting was even made into a movie called Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Another gem on the Upper East Side, the Cooper Hewitt is housed in Andrew Carnegie’s (yup, the very one) old home! The museum features contemporary design and includes everything from decor, graphic design, to fashion. Afterwards, wander Central Park and have lunch at Tavern on the Green!
Venture across the East River to Long Island City in Queens and spend a few hours at the Noguchi Museum. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of esteemed Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi. It houses 13 galleries and a beautiful outdoor sculpture garden. (PS- ideal date spot!)
Storm King Art Center
Speaking of scupltures, this place isn’t technically in the city, but it’s definitely earned a spot on my list! The Storm King Art Center is an open-air museum, one hour north of the city. It features contemporary outdoor sculptures on 500-acres of open land. If you’ve ever seen Netflix’s show Master of None, you may remember Dev and Francesca’s FOMO-inducing date here in the fall foliage!
Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin features art, designs, statues, and textiles from cultures of the Himalayas. Visit to learn and appreciate art from Asian countries including Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and India. The structure of the museum is beautiful, with a big spiral staircase and cool exhibits on rotation.
The Morgan Library & Museum
If you’re into both art and libraries, the Morgan (named after that Morgan family as in J.P. Morgan) is a must-see! Walking distance from Grand Central Terminal, it is absolutely magnificent, deck out in mahogany wood and deep reds. Plus, so many literary first editions any bibliophile will swoon over! In addition to the library, there are rooms with artwork, exhibitions, and a café.
The world-famous Fotografiska museum opened its New York doors end of 2019 in a huge landmark building on Park Avenue. It features some of the world’s best photography and the exhibits and programs are constantly changing to feature current issues and movements.