I haven’t talked about New York in a minute, as it usually brings me mixed feelings to think about my other home. To me, NYC is always linked to both excitement and melancholia, but if visualization works, and I can really manifest the change I wish for, this is the time to act. 

And while we approach the peak of this fall season, there is no better time to visit New York, or at least plan a trip to the city. Whether it is going to be a short gateway or a longer trip, NYC has something for everyone and every budget, and in fall the city is truly magic. With leaves falling in Central Park, and galleries and museums opening their fall exhibitions, it is the perfect time to visit before it gets extra chilly in winter. 

And if you are a contemporary art lover traveling on a budget, public art is always a great opportunity, especially in New York City. Public art is basically everywhere, from squares and parks to a range of different interventions around the five boroughs, promoted by museums and non-profit organizations. But since it is not always super easy to keep up to date with the extra fast-paced art world of New York City, yours truly is here to help you!

So, grab your pumpkin spice latte, wear your favorite sweater and beanie, and get ready for a public art trip. Here are three great resources to discover the best public art New York City has to offer!

The High Line 

The first mandatory spot to visit is the High Line in Chelsea. This 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) elevated linear park, greenway, and rail trail was created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York City.

The park is built on a disused, southern viaduct section of the New York Central Railroad’s West Side Line. Originating in the Meatpacking District, the park runs from Gansevoort Street – three blocks below 14th Street – through Chelsea to the northern edge of the West Side Yard on 34th Street near the Javits Center. You can access the High Line right next to the Whitney Museum of American Art and walk all the way north to the Vessel. 

Abandoned in 1980, the rail line was later repurposed into an urban park starting in 2006 and opened to the public in June 2009. Since then, it has become a major tourist attraction and a great site for public art. Come here to enjoy street performances, find amazing sculptures and installations, and enjoy the view over the surrounding neighborhoods. It is also the perfect way to discover the Chelsea area, relaxing in the park while hopping around galleries and the Whitney Museum. 

The High Line 
Generally open between 7 am to 10 pm. 

All info: thehighline.org

Public Art Fund 

If you are looking for a more structured organization, working with public art across all the boroughs of New York City, then look no further. Founded in 1977 by Doris C. Freedman, Public Art Fund presents contemporary art in New York City’s public spaces through a series of highly visible artists’ projects, new commissions, installations, and exhibitions that are emblematic of the organization’s mission and innovative history.

Think massive installations, amazing sculptures, or projects taking over Times Square. Think is what Public Art Fund does. If you are looking for great artists but in an urban environment, rather than a gallery or museum, then this is the resource to check. 

They obviously do not have a single space, but rather work across all districts and areas, so check their website to discover the latest interventions they are planning at the time of your visit. Just to give you an idea, in 2008 they curated Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls (2008), man-made waterfalls at four sites on New York City’s waterfront; for their 40th anniversary, they organized a citywide group exhibition, with names such as Anish Kapoor or Ai Weiwei; while in 2018, they positioned Erwin Wurm’s Hot Dog Bus at the Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

Public Art Fund
Various locations
All info: publicartfund.org

New York public art
Source: Ted McGrath

NYC Public Art Map and Guide

Last but not least, if you are more of a DIYer and prefer to make your own itinerary, this is the ultimate resource for you. The website gathers all the information about New York City parks and public spaces that host art installations and sculptures. They have everything clearly listed, divided between permanent monuments and temporary public art installations, and also have a comprehensive list of all the available attractions divided by borough. So, if you are planning to visit Queens and would like to know what you can find there, you just need to browse this website and all your art cravings will be satisfied. 

Most of all, and this is unsurprisingly my favorite feature, they have an amazing map with all the attractions pinned, so you can clearly locate them all. Definitely an Artsy Travels favorite! 

NYC Public Art Map and Guide
All info: www.nycgovparks.org

Cover image by Triston Dunn on Unsplash