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The Best Art Tours To Try When In NYC

The Best Art Tours To Try When In NYC
There is no shortage of tour companies in New York City, and any one will sufficiently fulfill the sight-seeing needs of the average visitor, but for the art lover, stand-out tours are a little harder to find. Here is a list of five art tours enjoyed by New Yorkers and visitors alike that will have you seeing the art in this city a little differently.
The Two Percent © Seres Lu

The Two Percent

For the high-tech art lover looking for a unique experience, this gallery tour of Chelsea has got you covered. David, who runs the tour, commissioned audio equipment used in museums and Broadway shows to turn his tour into an audio-visual experience. Tour-takers wear earbuds that allow them to hear David’s commentary anywhere within the gallery, releasing them from needing to congregate around the guide or having to strain to hear explanations…even adding a little spy-esque feel to the whole thing. The tour route features the top five galleries chosen from a selection of around 200 that David personally visits each month (hence the name of the tour).

Lauren A. Kaplan Tours © Seres Lu

Lauren A. Kaplan Tours

This customizable tour of client-picked museums, galleries and exhibits is a hybrid of what Lauren (an art historian and museum educator) calls the ‘lecture’ method of tours: giving you facts about that art with a more interactive ‘inquiry’ method, which consists of asking questions to promote discussion while also blending in a variety of historical context and true stories about the artists themselves. Short activities such as sketching and other games often feature into the experience as well. Popular requested tours include highlights or themed tours of the Metropolitan Museum, Chelsea gallery tours and tours of lower Manhattan’s iconic architecture.

Gotham SideWalks © Seres Lu

Gotham SideWalks

In New York City, popularly nicknamed ‘Gotham’, street art has always been juxtaposed against the fine art housed in galleries, but the lines are blurring more than ever between the two. This tour takes you through the best of both on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where an ever-changing street art scene and galleries coexist and influence one another. Rich, who runs the tour, has taught art for ten years and is a collage artist himself. A self-described tour ‘curator’ rather than ‘guide’, Rich involves the neighborhood art community to make the tour authentic. Count on him to invite the artists and gallery owners themselves to do the talking.

NYC Subway Art Tour © Seres Lu

NYC Subway Art Tour

This subterranean tour takes you through the various works of art commissioned by the city to decorate New York’s subways since 1985, including sculptures, mosaics, murals and installations, all of which are easily missed if you move at the pace most New Yorkers do. While many mistakenly believe the tour is about graffiti, Darryl, the Bronx-born tour guide, says the art shown is as legitimate and well crafted as any that would be placed in the MOMA, though sometimes he’ll point out renegade art too. Much favored by repeat visitors to NYC and city natives alike, the tour will have you seeing the subways in a whole new light.

A Creative Commons image: The Met © Monica Arellano-Ongpin/Flickr

Art Fairy Education

For a fully personalized experience, this tour lets you specify your interests and suggests an itinerary based on what you’d like to see. The (art) world is your oyster here: you can pick something as particular as a single artist or art movement to something as broad as an entire genre or form of art. The tours also cover private collections and auction houses in addition to museums and galleries. The tour is headed by a team of eight guides, all of whom have strong art history backgrounds or work in the art world. Combined, the guides also speak four other languages aside from English: Russian, Spanish, French and Malay.