Art Outside New York: Extraordinary Design Spaces Beyond the Big Apple

| © Oleg Albinsky / Getty Images
Alex Schnee

New York City might be the art capital of the world, but art lovers will find that there are plenty of other options available just outside the five boroughs. When city-dwellers need a break from the clamor and noise of New York, they only need to do a quick search to find innovative and well-designed art spaces nearby.

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Dia:Beacon, Beacon, United States

Located in Beacon, just outside of New York City, this art museum houses some wonderful works from the 1960s onwards. Occupying a former Nabisco factory, the museum has taken on a life of its own with community events including free days and education programs. Some of the highlights include works by Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, and Micheal Heizer. Large-scale installations are the norm here, but the Dia:Beacon also includes some paintings by On Kawara and others. Situated on 26 acres of land, the museum has something for everyone.

The Glass House

Designed originally as architect Philip Johnson’s own house, this minimal structure in Connecticut has examples of industrial materials. The Glass House is an example of modernism in the 1980s and features a large property that was once designed by Johnson’s partner, David Whitney. Taking elements from German architecture from the 1920s, Johnson and Whitney tried to work with the land that they owned in order to create a unique structure. A painting, and sculpture gallery are also located onsite for guests to the estate to visit, along with many other buildings that visitors can enjoy as they walk around the acres of land now completely open to the public.


As one of the largest performing and contemporary art spaces in the United States, MASS MoCA has 19 galleries and hosts concerts throughout the year. It was originally the space for Arnold Print Works located near the Hoosic River. Once the home of an electric company and then later a museum, this space has featured work by Sol LeWitt, Kim Adams, and Sean Foley. Mainly used to hold large installations, the museum is meant to offer space to artists that might not normally be represented.

Katonah Museum of Art

Easily accessible by the Metro North and only a few minutes away from Manhattan, the Katonah Museum of Art has featured work by Jasper Johns and offers new exhibits throughout the year—so there’s always something new. The museum strives to be cross-cultural and provides visitors with multiple artistic styles. It’s a non-collecting museum, so new artwork always comes in and out of the building. Lectures are also offered to the public for guests of all ages, so everyone can find something to enjoy.

Storm King Art Center

Storm King Art Center

The Storm King Art Center is located in Mountainville, New York, and is home to an amazing collection of outdoor sculptures. Purchased by Ralph Ogden, he began to collect outdoor works and place them around his home. Over time, the collection grew until it now expands throughout the area. Works featured now are by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Richard Serra, and many others. The landscapes were formed in order to best show the work to visitors—so each placement has been considered so visitors can enjoy.

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum

Art patron Daniel Wadsworth founded this art space containing over 50,000 different items from impressionist works to contemporary art. It is the largest museum in Connecticut and is recognizable by its castle-like exterior. Home to dance performances and concerts, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum also houses objects from multiple different time periods. Visitors will find works by Mondrian, Caravaggio, and Salvador Dali. It has also just completed part of a $100 million dollar expansion in order to keep the many different items the museum owns.

Worcester Art Museum

When visitors are looking for a bit of the Old World or some classic works all in one location, they don’t need to look any further than the Worcester Art Museum. Guests can find armoury and Medieval masterpieces as well as works by Gauguin and Monet. All the galleries have been renovated since the 1990s and include new lighting and wall refinishing. If visitors want a variety of works throughout multiple time periods by some easily recognizable names, they can find them here.

Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College

A new museum only just recently opened in 2012, the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum houses some unique, contemporary works in its novel facility. The museum also works with the nearby Hamilton College in order to create programs to help emerging artists. The permanent collection is worth viewing, and there are new exhibits coming in and out all the time to offer guests new perspectives on the recent art scene—the entire museum is dedicated to the new works being created by upcoming artists.

Princeton University Art Museum

The Princeton University Art Museum has more than 72,000 different works available to view. It’s most noted for its European and Asian galleries where you can see work from antiquity onwards. The museum keeps the goal in mind to preserve artworks and to inspire a new generation to appreciate the fields of art and research. If visitors are looking for a way to visit the past and to think about the ways art can affect the future, the Princeton University Art Museum can inspire and encourage art lovers for the generations ahead.

The Barnes Foundation

Impressionism, post-impressionism, and early modern art lovers should be sure to visit the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The collection contains some works by extraordinarily famous artists including Henri Matisse, Georges Seurat, August Renoir, and many more. Though the center of controversy in the part, the Barnes Foundation is now firmly established in its current building and continues its mission of inspiring students as not only a museum but as a school, as well. The nearby arboretum is also worth looking into if guests have the extra time.

By: Alex Schnee

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