One of the most significant icons of 20th century architecture, the building was commission was awarded to Frank Lloyd Wright, and was to be a ‘temple of spirit’. It was built in the 50’s to house industrialist Solomon R. Guggenheim’s expanding art collection. Working with his niece, Peggy, they grew the collection and the Guggenheim name internationally expanding to further venues in Venice, Spain, and most recently, not without controversy, to Abu Dhabi. It is a legendary space, an impeccable collection, with temporary exhibitions to match. As it is cultural centre it tends to host very good talks and lectures which are worth attending, if you have time. They really bring the work to life.
If contemporary art had a Vatican or Mecca, MoMa would be it. It is the most influential museum in the world and offers an eclectic and dynamic collection display. There is SO much quality work to see there that it can be overwhelming so best to do it in small bites to avoid incoherent art-mush-brain. The host of Matisse, Van Gogh, De Chirico and Braque, will make it hard to tear away from the permanent collection but make the effort for the temporary exhibitions, which are spectacular.
PS1 MoMa actively pursues the new in contemporary art. The building holds true to this philosophy with classroom-sized project spaces, lending to the atmosphere of a ‘school of art’. It only quite recently became an affiliate of MoMa (2000), though has shown significant and, frankly really fun, art since the 70s. The curators are not precious about the spaces which are flexible for installations, interventions, and experimentation. I have found some truly wonderful and bizarre projects here. Its fun and very much worth a visit.
This is the most elegant space in New York and I adore it. It is two floors devoted to early twentieth-century German and Austrian art and design. I really enjoy looking at the Decorative Arts section and how they relate to the absolutely sensuous works by Klimt, Schiele and Kokoschka, particularly the design of Hoffman, who I discovered here first. It was founded by Serge Sabarsky and Ronald S. Lauder (as in Estée Lauder) as a philanthropic project. Café Sabarsky emulated the Viennese coffee shop style and should be factored into every visit.
The New Museum, celebrating its 40th year in 2017, is the art-incubator space in New York. The founder (Marcia Tucker) identified a gap in the market for a serious exhibition space for living artists, whose work might be out of sync for the traditional museum model. The award-winning eight-story building was designed by Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA and is impossible to miss for how its white block facade contrasts the surrounding buildings. It is a good place to experience work that tackles current issues and themes.
Just a hop over from Manhattan to Queens, the Noguchi Museum and Garden was founded and designed by the artist himself. The space, true to his art, is contemplative, simple, elegant and beautiful. The gardens are a quiet oasis. The museum continues to exhibit shows by other artists (mostly sculptors it seems) but it really is the place to admire Noguchi’s sculptures in an impactful setting. Isolated when established in a desolate part of New York, the area now has developed into a cultural hub, with an alliance formed between the local spaces. It is a great place to quietly clear your head.
Devoted to exhibiting and collecting American works of art from the 20th and 21st century, the collection was founded from the private holdings of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in the 30’s. It moved in 2015 from the upper east side ‘museum mile’ to its current location in the vibrant meatpacking district, next to the High Line, making it a stop in the tour of the area, which is fun to hang out in. Apart from the collection displays and temporary exhibitions, it hosts a Biennial of American Art that features performance, experimental, and video art, so you will get to see some really cutting-edge art. When visiting I forget that it is devoted to American art, a testament to how diverse America is, culturally speaking.