The New York City Art & Architecture Guide
While much of New York City’s architecture is of the interior variety, it has important art and design in spades.
Cooper Hewitt2 E. 91st St., Upper East Side | 212.849.8400
Housed in Andrew Carnegie’s former Georgian mansion, the Cooper Hewitt still maintains the original dark wood-lined interiors and imposing staircase. After closing for three years for a major upgrade on the design galleries at the hands of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Cooper Hewitt had a grand re-opening at the end of 2014 with an expanded exhibition space. There's also an interactive Process Lab where visitors learn about the design process, and an Immersion Room highlighting the museum's expansive wall-covering collection. The museum was already one of the best in the world for design—both contemporary and ancient—so it's no surprise that it's better than ever. Don’t miss their shop, which is incredibly well done.
Gagosian Gallery555 W. 24th St., Chelsea | 212.741.1111
The jewel of Larry Gagosian's gallery empire is a gargantuan, museum-standard center in Chelsea: The space alone is worth a visit for its sheer monumentality. And fittingly, the stable of artists displayed there consists of the art world's heavyweights from Ed Ruscha, to Taryn Simon and Jeff Koons. There are multiple outposts in the city (including a second location on 21st street) along with galleries around the world.
The Guggenheim1071 5th Ave., Upper East Side | 212.423.3500
Aside from being one of the most significant buildings of the 20th-century, and the apex of Frank Lloyd Wright’s career, the Guggenheim is a world-class art museum and cultural center, too. No matter the show—usually solid retrospectives—it’s worth the entrance fee just to wind your way through the snail-like building and look down from the top at the mesmerizing view below.
Judd Foundation101 Spring St., Soho | 212.219.2747
Donald Judd moved into 101 Spring Street in the then derelict Soho in 1968, and over the course of twenty-five years, renovated each of the five floors in the building according to his singular aesthetic. The result is a space that is as much a home as it is a piece of art. The Judd Foundation opened up the space to docent-led tours, where visitors get to see his custom-made furniture, and the art and objects he acquired over the years. It’s a wonderful window into Judd’s entire sensibility.
Luhring Augustine531 W. 24th St., Chelsea | 212.206.9100
Founded in 1985 by co-owners Lawrence R. Luhring and Roland J. Augustine, this Chelsea gallery focuses on representing an international group of contemporary painters, sculptors, photographers, and multimedia artists. The roster is a roll-call for some of the world's most celebrated artists from Larry Clark to Joel Sternfeld, Pipilotti Rist, Janine Antoni, and more. There's also a location in Bushwick for larger scale projects.
Matthew Marks Gallery523 W. 24th St., Chelsea | 212.243.0200
With a stable of some of our favorite contemporary artists and photographers—Luigi Ghiri, Nan Goldin and Terry Winters—gallerist Matthew Marks has made a name for himself for his offbeat, yet totally on-point exhibitions. There are three outposts in Chelsea.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art1000 Fifth Ave., Upper East Side | 212.535.7710
This beloved institution—reigning supreme on NYC’s Upper East Side—has been shepherding millions through its halls since 1880. You’ll find some of the art world’s most iconic pieces, as well as important artifacts from ancient to modern times. It’s also home to the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, which dates back to 15 BC.
MoMA11 W. 53rd St., Midtown | 212.708.9400
Despite its popularity, which translates into lines around the block on any given day, MoMA is still one of our favorite places in the city. Whenever we come to visit, whether to walk the permanent collection or to check out a new, contemporary exhibition, we always spend some time in the white marble-clad sculpture garden, a rare respite in the middle of bustling midtown. The MoMA has plans to expand into what was previously the Folk Art Museum next door: Headed up by architectural practice Diller Scofidio + Renfro, it will certainly be as artfully conceived as the famous 2002-2004 revamp.
Pace/MacGill32 E. 57th St. 9th Floor, Midtown East | 212.759.7999
Since the '80s Pace/MacGill has been showing some of the best artists in modern and contemporary photography. As part of The Pace Gallery family, the standards for work and placement here are as high as they come.
The Whitney Museum of American Art99 Gansevoort, Meatpacking Disrict | 212.570.3600
The Whitney—a long-time doyenne on the UES—shut its doors and moved to the Meatpacking District, where it sits in a Renzo Piano–designed building at the southern end of the Highline. The Whitney decamped because of space constrictions uptown, a situation that's now eased by its 200,000 square feet. (The Metropolitan Museum of Art has taken over the Whitney's previous Marcel Breuer–designed home at Madison and 75th.) Bonus: It's open until 10 p.m. on the weekends.
Grand Central Terminal89 E. 42nd St., Midtown | 212.340.2583
Metro-North commuters come into the city each day via this Beaux-Arts gem, but it's a worthwhile stop for anyone curious about the city's rich history. Among the many highlights are the iconic constellation mural above the Grand Concourse, and the Oyster Bar, which we love for its famous interiors, built in 1913 under the arches of the train station. In addition, we're always fans of a drink at the Campbell Apartment, an authentic, dimly-lit, old-fashioned bar nestled in the building, where you have to dress up for admission. And, if you need a quick snack, the Dining Concourse houses many NYC highlights like Junior's, Shake Shack, and an outpost of Murray's Cheese.
The High Line
This elevated public park that runs from the Meatpacking District all the way to Midtown is perhaps the best thing to happen to the city’s landscape in decades. Set on abandoned railway tracks suspended above the city streets, the restoration project by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in conjunction with James Corner Field Operations began in 2006 and continues to this day, now focused on a huge development in the original Rail Yards at the end of the line in the west 30’s. Boasting views of the Hudson, a seasonal landscaping program, and art installations throughout, the High Line draws crowds of city-dwellers and tourists looking for a little respite from the streets below.
New York Public Library5th Ave. at 42nd St., Midtown | 917.275.6975
The iconic seat of the NYPL takes pride of place on Bryant Park in Midtown. While it is still an important research institution, it's also a landmark we like to visit for many reasons beyond the book-lined shelves, from the Children's Library housing the original Winnie the Pooh Dolls, to the Rose Reading room, where anyone can grab a seat and work in peace and quiet, to the excellent bookshop, full of NYC-themed storybooks and classic reads. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the exhibitions themed around the library's holdings and the stunning Beaux Arts 1911 building itself.
Altman Siegel49 Geary St., Union Square | 415.576.9300
Claudia Altman-Siegel worked for Luhring Augustine Gallery in Chelsea (they represent such luminaries as Rachel Whiteread and Christopher Wool) for 10 years before striking out on her own with her namesake San Francisco gallery. Her space is inside the 49 Geary building in the Financial District, an unassuming structure that houses some of the best galleries in a hyper-convenient, if seemingly sterile, location. You can rely on her to show work from excellent newcomers from the local area and beyond, with a roster of bright stars like Garth Weiser and Sara VanDerBeek.
Dia:Beacon3 Beekman St., Beacon | 845.440.0100
The Dia Art Foundation’s extraordinary space at the old Nabisco box printing factory in the Hudson River Valley is a worthwhile, scenic drive from New York City. The Robert Irwin designed space and gardens make an artful backdrop to the permanent collection of works made after 1960, with entire spaces dedicated to contemporary masters like Richard Serra, Joseph Beuys, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, and more. The galleries are lit by the light of day that filters in, so opening times morph throughout the seasons.