Although we find ourselves forced at home at this very moment, with little information on how and when we will be able to resume traveling, I still enjoy the pleasure of discovering new places. I don’t know about you, but for me, I love planning my trips just as much as I love the actual act of traveling. I love finding myself in new places, visiting new cities, and experiencing whatever a trip has in store for me. But I equally love planning the trip or getting an idea of what to expect from a place.
Not that I always plan entirely in advance what I am going to do during a trip. On the contrary, I am much more likely to let things happen and enjoy them as they come. But I usually like to do my homework and familiarize myself with what a place has to offer. I can’t resist the excitement of discovering cool galleries, or the major museums and exhibitions on display in a city, and putting them in my bucket list! To do so, I use a few different online resources designed specifically to discover art. Those websites and mobile apps help me get an idea of what is on display in the place I am planning to visit, or they help me gathering ideas and inspiration on where to travel next.
I normally use these online tools for a few different reasons.
First of all, they have the most up-to-date information about galleries, museums, and exhibitions. When I plan a trip, I love buying a paper guide, mostly because I love lining them up on my bookshelves. But those guides rarely come with updated information about galleries and museums.
On the other hand, apps and websites are very helpful. They are not only constantly updated, but they often come with maps as well, so you can get a visual idea of where each place is located and how far is one from the other. And lastly, they provide a bunch of useful information, like opening hours, press releases, and images, that help me choose where to go.
So, without any further ado, here are the first three online resources I check whenever I plan an art trip.
GalleriesNow is the ultimate guide for every art globetrotter. It mainly focuses on galleries and has a comprehensive list of spaces and exhibitions, plus some museum recommendations. As they state on their website “GalleriesNow is the leading independent gallery guide for an engaged audience of collectors, curators, art professionals and art lovers. We provide an accurate and curated resource, making world-class exhibitions accessible to a wide international audience.”
Browsing the website, you can filter the exhibitions by location. You can also sign up and save on your profile the exhibitions and galleries you are planning to visit, with all the information and details provided. On their website, you can choose a location from their list or use the NearMe box to find personalized recommendations. A very useful tool is the Artmap, a Google map of your chosen area, that displays the galleries’ locations.
Finally, they also implemented an online-only section to visit exhibitions while comfortably seating on your couch. And they have VR and online viewing rooms to further broaden their offer.
Another great online platform is Artsy. Designed for dealers and collectors, it is not specifically focused on gathering information about exhibitions, but it still has very useful features that put it among my favorite resources to plan an art trip. First of all, it is the leading platform for the art market, with galleries from all over the world showing their artists on the website. It is very useful to discover new artists and their works, their prices, galleries representing them, and so on. But it can also be used the other way around. Users can browse galleries, fairs, shows, and museums all around the world, filtering them based on location or specialty (which includes mediums, period, or origin). Each museum or gallery has its page where you can find information about space, current and past shows, artists and works available, and related articles.
The website is especially useful for the vast amount of information provided. They might not be as visually accessible as an Artmap or scrapbook on GalleriesNow, but you can get a lot more information on what is going on in a specific city from Artsy. Moreover, most of the galleries around the world have an Artsy profile, so you can be sure the information provided is up to date. You can also follow the galleries, museums, and artists you spot on the platform and they will keep you posted whenever something new is published.
Last but not least, the magazine Artforum is one of my all-time favorites. Founded in 1962 in New York, it is one of the most important magazines in the world when it comes to contemporary art. I have always loved the square format of the magazine and its articles and reviews. Artforum features some of the most important critics and curators around the world and this means top quality content, both on their website and the printed magazine.
Artforum also provides a useful “Artguide”. You can find it as a section on the website, but you can also download a mobile app. It basically serves as an archive of exhibitions, where galleries and spaces around the world can post their press releases and images. It has a map (both on the website and the mobile app), that shows you what spaces you can find in a specific area. You can browse galleries, fairs, and museums by location and you can also save them in your own guide. This way you can create a list of exhibitions, with all the information available, organized by location and closing day. It is a powerful tool, especially when you are out and about since it shows you what’s around you, based on your current position.
So, these are definitely my favorite online resources to plan an art trip.
As I said, I don’t like planning too much. Traveling is beautiful because it frees you from obligations, hours, schedule, and routine. But I don’t want to miss whatever I want to see either. What I usually do with all this information is a list. I check if museums and galleries are closed on certain days, if they stay open till late, if they actually have exhibitions going on. I then compile a list with everything I absolutely want to visit, then places I might visit, and finally places I will visit only if I have some spare time. That way I can schedule just the things I absolutely want to do and let life happen for the rest of the time.
What about you? Do you like planning in advance your itineraries or do you like improvising?
And what are your favorite resources to keep up to date with what is happening in the art world?