Now that New York is slowly reopening its galleries and museums, we all want to find some places to enjoy contemporary art without too much crowd or queuing. We can’t wait to go back to our favorite places and collections, but at this very moment we most of all need to find new and exciting ways to enjoy them while staying safe.
To me, it is sort of therapeutic to visit some collections and works. For example, whenever I am in New York I love to go to MoMA and pay homage to my all-time favorite artist, Marcel Duchamp. It’s like a pilgrimage to me, and I always try to find some time to go back to his works.
But now that we are trying to overcome a global pandemic, it could be safer to visit less crowded places. It will not only be beneficial to stop the spreading of the virus, but it can also help smaller museums in a time of great difficulties. And, moreover, it can save us a lot of queuing trying to get inside major museums, once they’ll reopen.
So with that in mind, I chose 3 of my favorite contemporary art museums in New York, where you can head as soon as they reopen.
New Museum of Contemporary Art
Ok, sure enough, it is a popular museum but not quite as much as the MoMA or the Guggenheim museum. And whenever we will be able to travel and tourists will start flowing back to New York again, this will probably not be their first choice. Too bad for them!
The New Museum is one of my favorite museums in Manhattan and in NYC as a whole. Not only the exhibitions are great, but I love the building and it is conveniently located near all my favorite spots in Manhattan – steps away from the Lower East Side, SoHo and the East Village.
Located on Bowery, it was founded in 1977 by Marcia Tucker and it is the only museum in NYC entirely dedicated to contemporary art and to artists who have not yet received significant exposure or recognition.
It changed a few locations over the years until in 2007 it opened its current space on Bowery. This seven-story building, designed by the Tokyo-based firm Sejima + Nishizawa/SANAA and the New York-based firm Gensler, is now the most recognizable landmark of the area. It is so beautifully designed that in April 2008 Conde Nast Traveler named it one of the architectural New Seven Wonders of the World.
Just like its architecture, the exhibitions are superb, to say the least. The artists they showcase are usually emerging to mid-career, even though I had the chance to visit a few exhibitions of more established artists, such as Sarah Lucas, Ugo Rondinone, and Nari Ward. If you are looking for a medium-sized museum, located close to great shopping and food spots, then this is the place for you. Once they will reopen, I am sure they will be able to put in place all the necessary measures to offer a safe visit to us contemporary art lovers, as spaces are big and it is easy to keep the right distance.
235 Bowery, New York, NY 10002, United States
Info and tickets
Another not-too-small museum, but still a great alternative to its bigger brother, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). MoMA PS1 is located in Queens, in the Long Island City neighborhood. It is a relatively big museum with great, thought-provoking exhibitions.
MoMA PS1 was originally founded in 1971 by Alanna Heiss as the Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc., an organization with the mission of turning abandoned, underutilized buildings in New York City into artist studios and exhibition spaces. It is the first nonprofit arts center in the US devoted solely to contemporary art. Its current location first opened in 1976, as P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. It is housed in a former Romanesque Revival public school building, that dates back to 1892. In 2000 P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and MoMA joined forces and created MoMA PS1 as we know it today.
The center is still dedicated to hosting artists and providing the public with interesting contemporary art exhibitions. Their main focus is to help both artists and the general public understand and disseminate art, and they do so through several activities, exhibitions, screenings, visits, and lectures.
The space hosts temporary exhibitions and some permanent artist interventions. These can be seen year-round, and many of these installations have remained on view since the 1970s. Since MoMA PS1 is the largest non-collecting contemporary art institution in the world, these works belong to the artists.
You also definitely need to check James Turrell’s “Meeting” room, one of the artist’s celebrated Skyspaces. It is a site-specific work that was first commissioned in 1976 for the PS1 and finally entered the MoMA collection in 2016, after its renovation.
22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101, United States
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Lastly, a visit Upstate, to escape New York City and the social distancing madness. I have to be honest, I never got the chance to visit Dia Beacon, although it has been on my list of things to do for ages now. I was supposed to visit it with a friend in early spring, but then the global pandemic canceled all our plans. But it’ll be one of the first things I will do as soon as I’ll have to chance to go back to New York. After all, if Covid taught us (or maybe just me) something, it is to never procrastinate anymore!
Dia Beacon is part of the Dia Art Foundation. It is on of the eleven spaces they have and it serves as the museum that hosts the Foundation’s collection of art from the 1960s to the present day.
Located in Beacon, on the Hudson River banks north of New York City, it was opened in 2003 in a former Nabisco box printing facility. Along with its permanent collection, Dia Beacon also presents temporary exhibitions, as well as public programs designed to complement the collection and exhibitions, including monthly Gallery Talks, Merce Cunningham Dance Company Events, Community Free Days for neighboring counties, and an education program that serves area students at all levels. With its 15,000 square meters, it is one of the largest exhibition spaces in the US for modern and contemporary art.
I definitely need to go, as it has some incredible works by some of my favorite artists, such as Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Ufan, or Gerhard Richter. Plus it is in the idyllic setting of the Hudson River Valley, close to other great contemporary art attractions, such as the Magazzino Italian Art, which can all be visited as a nice getaway from the city.
3 Beekman St, Beacon, NY 12508, United States
Info and tickets