The Best Travel Art Destinations

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most remarkable and inspiring places to see and experience art this school year. More than galleries or museums, these are art destinations to get immersed in and spend more than just a few hours.

Chinati Foundation

Marfa, TX

Donald Judd, 15 untitled works in concrete, 1980-1984. © Judd Foundation/VAGA, NY/DACS, London 2013.

Located in the middle of the Texan desert, Marfa has an ever-growing number of trendy restaurants, shops and cultural institutions catering to the art crowd. With the help of the Dia Art Foundation, artist Donald Judd acquired a large piece of land (formerly an army fort) to install site-specific artwork by himself and a few select contemporaries. Today the Chinati Foundation continues this mission with a program of works that are inextricably linked to their surroundings. Make a trip of it, hang out in Marfa, and take in the work of greats like Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin and more.

Dan Flavin, untitled (Marfa project), 1996, detail. Photo courtesy of the Chinati Foundation. © 2013 Stephen Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Mass MoCA

North Adams, MA

left: An idyllic Berkshires setting. right: Natalie Jeremijenko’s ongoing work consisting of trees growing upside down hangs in the courtyard.

Located in a former industrial complex in the Berkshires, this sprawling center for the arts was repurposed for exhibiting large-scale and complex works too difficult to display in a regular museum environment. For example, Sol Lewitt’s impressive retrospective of enormous wall drawings is installed through 2033. With theater and performing arts spaces woven into the museum’s fabric, it is also a catalyst for new art. No matter what time of year you visit, the buildings and their surroundings are breathtaking, and there’s always plenty to see not only within the museum walls, but beyond.

Anselm Kiefer

Opens September 27, 2013

left: Anselm Kiefer’s monumental work in situ. right: The exterior of the dedicated gallery space.

This is a major show of the German artist’s work, requiring a whole new building’s renovation in order to house a 15 year exhibition. The entirety of a private collection of Kiefer’s work will be on display, seeing the light of day for the first time in many years.

Walker Art Center

Minneapolis, MN

left: Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry is the sculpture garden’s centerpiece. right: An exterior shot of Herzog & de Meuron’s groundbreaking building.

The Walker’s 2005 Herzog & de Meuron renovation put the museum back on the art world’s map as a major destination for quality contemporary art. The museum’s program is continually impressive and innovative with a mix of modern and contemporary classics and critically acclaimed discoveries. Not only that, but the museum is adjacent to the city’s sculpture garden – one of the best in the world. They’ve recently launched a fun web app so you can experience it online.

Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties

September 22, 2013 – January 12, 2014

left: Installation view. right: Claes Oldenburg. Soft Dormeyer Mixer, 1965.

Over 300 of Oldenburg’s works from the 1960’s including many sculptures from both his famous The Store and The Home series – large-scale and always playful “soft” and “hard” renditions of everyday food and objects. Hamburgers, ice-cream cones, kitchen mixers, and slices of cake – it’s pure pop.

The Getty Center

Los Angeles, CA

left: The Richard Meier designed building in the afternoon light. Photo: Alex Vertikoff. right: A view of Robert Irwin’s gardens. Photo: Nick Springett.

This institution’s stunning site is architect Richard Meier’s tribute to Los Angeles. Perched on a hilltop with views of the Pacific Ocean and the San Gabriel mountains, the building is a true standout in monumental blocks of travertine – almost blinding during the day and then glowing in LA’s afternoon light. Pair that with the Robert Irwin designed gardens, and you almost don’t need to go inside for the art – it’s all right there.

Abelardo Morell: The Universe Next Door

October 1, 2013–January 5, 2014

Abelardo Morell. Camera Obscura Image of The Philadelphia Museum of Art East Entrance in Gallery #171 with a DeChirico Painting, 2005.

A look at photographer Abelardo Morell’s work over the last 25 years. His photographs of everyday life and objects have a whimsical twist that transform the quotidian into something special and even slightly magical. His photographs of camera obscuras (technically, photographs of photographs) are classics.

LA County Museum of Art

Los Angeles, CA

James Turrell. Breathing Light, 2013. Photo: Florian Holzherr.

James Turrell: A Retrospective

Through April 6, 2014

This retrospective has had an incredible reception over the past few months. More than a traditional art show, it’s a completely immersive experience in this “Light and Space” artist’s oeuvre. Turrell, with his large-scale installations and sculptures, is known for playing with perception, using LED light to manipulate the way we understand space.

James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany Skyspace”

Houston, TX

Now that we’re sort of obsessed with Turrell, here’s an installation at Rice University worth making a pilgrimage to. The Skyspace, which is acoustically engineered to accommodate outdoor concerts, also features a beautiful LED light sequence before sunrise and at sunset.

James Turrell, Twilight Epiphany, 2012 The Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavillion, Rice University Photo: Florian Holzherr.

Dia : Beacon

Beacon, NY

left: Artist Robert Irwin’s stunning garden. right: Situated in the beautiful Hudson River valley. Photo: Michael Govan. Photo: Richard Burke.

This is the Dia Art Foundation’s extraordinary space in an old Nabisco box printing factory in the Hudson River Valley. It’s a scenic drive from New York City to the Robert Irwin designed space and gardens. The permanent collection here houses 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 change through the seasons.

Imi Knoebel


Imi Knoebel, 24 Colors—for Blinky, 1977. Photo: Bill Jacobson.

One of our favorite rooms in the Riggio Galleries is Imi Knoebel’s space. His “for Blinky” series was acquired by the Dia Foundation and is exhibited in its entirety.