7 Places to Go in New York City for Art Lovers

Jun 25, 2014

By Justin Boyle

In at least one way, the New York City art world is like the city itself: there's an unmistakable modern liveliness, a grand clamor of furious creativity, and just down the street, there are enormous classical institutions, sitting still and quiet and radiating history. Whether you're looking for works that have stood the test of time or you're out for a slice of the cutting edge, we've got you covered with these seven great art spots.

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

It would be sacrilege to talk art in NYC without mentioning the Met, which looms large not only among New York City museums but among the world's greatest institutions of fine art. The collection at the Met is one of the largest anywhere, housing nearly 400,000 artifacts and masterworks, and you can browse its collection online before visiting. As if the enormity and diversity of its collected artworks weren't enough, visitors can get access to classes, workshops, lectures, internships, concerts, instructional programs and educational resources for all ages and levels of experience.

2. The Cloisters

Although it's officially the northern annex of the Met, the Cloisters has a flavor all its own. Housed in a unique monastery pastiche at the heart of Upper Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park, the building and walled gardens of the Cloisters were assembled from architectural elements of the European middle ages and can easily be seen as part of the collection themselves. General admission to the Central Park Met also includes a one-week pass to the Cloisters, and Cloisters admission provides same-day access to the general collection in the museum's main building. This gem of antiquity is a must for students of medieval art and architecture -- particularly those who want a taste of old Europe without the seven- or eight-hour flight.


Summer 2014 is a good time for art lovers (and miniature golf lovers) to find themselves on Governor's Island, off the southern tip of Manhattan and just across Buttermilk Channel from the Brooklyn waterfront. FIGMENT is a group of playful renegades looking to fling art past the boundaries of air-conditioned gallery spaces and into the realm of public participation. Visitors who hop a ferry from either adjoining borough before September 21 can goggle at massive installations, play on artist-designed mini-golf holes, interact with larger-than-life sculptures and climb around in a treehouse designed for kids and adults.

4. Columbus Circle Holiday Market

Any art lover who hasn't extended their purview to include New York City artisans and craftspeople is missing out on a good piece of the fun. Pretty much everything on display at Columbus Circle is for sale, too, from the handmade metal jewelry and reclaimed roof-slate cutting boards to the wall-size paintings and on-demand screenprinted clothing, so bring some cash or plastic in case you find something you realize you can't live without. The 2014 Columbus Circle Holiday Market kicks off December 2, so mark your calendar for a late fall afternoon of art and food amid the sights, sounds and smells of an open-air bazaar.

5. Printed Matter

If we consider art books as hyper-portable, single-exhibit galleries, then Printed Matter offers access to a range of galleries. Visitors to the nonprofit organization's Chelsea store can browse a massive selection of artists' books, prints, posters, zines, audio works and other recorded or printed media, all while taking in curated exhibitions, window installations, title launches and book fairs. Feel free to page around their online catalog for sheer gobs of transgressive text and images from works both in and out of print.

6. Neighborhood Art Walks

When you're looking for quantity as well as quality, one of the many top-notch art walks in NYC is your best bet. These high-density events take patrons on a stroll through city neighborhoods, visiting local museums, galleries, open studios and art events along the way. The official Chelsea Art Walk 2014 includes a hundreds galleries and studios open to the public for one night only on July 24, and several other walking tours can be found throughout the year. The Municipal Art Society of New York has been conducting regular tours in the city for nearly sixty years, from the Bronx to Staten Island.

7. The Street

Art bloomed outdoors in New York long before London icon Banksy staged a much-tweeted 2013 show in far-flung streetside locations across NYC. Adventurous souls can easily strike out on their own and hunt for out-of-the-way stencils, paste-ups and stunning murals on old factory walls, but enterprising residents of particularly art-strewn neighborhoods such as Bushwick and Astoria offer tours for those who prefer to be guided. If you're headed out on your own, don't miss the Meatpacking District, the Lower East Side of Manhattan or the legendary 5Pointz in Long Island City.


Chelsea Art Walk 2014, http://artwalkchelsea.com/

Columbus Circle Holiday Market, Urban Space NYC, http://urbanspacenyc.com/columbus-circle-holiday-market/

FIGMENT NYC, FIGMENT, http://newyork.figmentproject.org/

FROM STREET TO ART, Italian Cultural Institute in New York, http://www.iicnewyork.esteri.it/IIC_NewYork/webform/SchedaEvento.aspx?id=762&citta=NewYork

"FROM STREET TO ART to Open Tomorrow, June 20, at Italian Cultural Institute of New York with BR1, Agostino Iacurci, Sten&Lex and more," Street Art NYC, June 19, 2014, http://streetartnyc.org/blog/2014/06/19/from-street-to-art-to-open-tomorrow-june-20-at-italian-cultural-institute-of-new-york-with-br1-agostino-iacurci-stenlex-and-more/

Getting There, FIGMENT, http://newyork.figmentproject.org/2014_nyc_getting_there

New York Graffiti and Street Art Tours, Free Tours by Foot, http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-york-tours/walking-tours/new-york-graffiti-and-street-art-tours/

Printed Matter, http://printedmatter.org/

Printed Matter Catalog, http://printedmatter.org/catalog

Street Art NYC, http://streetartnyc.org/

Street Art Walk, http://streetartwalk.com/

The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harlem One Stop, http://www.harlemonestop.com/organization.php?id=22

The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/history-of-the-museum/the-cloisters-museum-and-gardens

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, http://www.metmuseum.org/

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Collection Online, http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online

Tours, Municipal Art Society of New York, https://secure3.convio.net/masnyc/site/Ecommerce?store_id=1221

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