A New York Tour for Art Lovers

I feel incredibly lucky to live in New York City and to work in the art world. Since my days of sitting at the front desk at Matthew Marks Gallery in Chelsea and now as Curator at Park Hyatt New York, the art scene has expanded across the city, and into the boroughs. Here, a few of my favorite spots.

11 West 53rd Street
MoMA is closed for renovations through October 21, 2019.

The Museum of Modern Art, one of the city’s—and the country’s—premier institutions for modern and contemporary art, first opened its doors in 1939. Its permanent collection of almost 200,000 works includes masterpieces by many of the 20th century’s leading artists: Duchamp, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol...the list truly could go on and on. In the permanent collection, van Gogh’s Starry Night and three panels of Monet’s series of paintings of water lilies are among the most famous works. The museum’s first director, Alfred Barr, was praised for taking the innovative step of expanding the role of the art museum to include genres beyond painting and sculpture, and to this day the institution dedicates exhibitions (and resources) to design, architecture, photography, and other creative fields. The museum also has a space in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, called MoMA PS 1, which focuses principally on younger, emerging artists and hosts Warm Up, a summer live music series.
225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA
The JP Morgan Library’s grand, old-world elegance immediately transports you to turn-of-the-century New York. And at that time, there was almost no one more powerful than financier JP Morgan. He launched U.S. Steel and even served as the unofficial central bank of the U.S. for a time. Though some considered him a national hero, his tight control of banks, corporations and railroads led others to label him one of the original “robber barons.” Morgan was an avid collector of art and books with holdings so vast they were housed at multiple locations in New York and England. Eventually, he decided to consolidate his holdings in a huge library next to his mansion in NYC. Designed by renowned architect Charles McKim and completed in 1906, the Italian Renaissance palazzo-style library holds a staggering collection of illuminated books, historical manuscripts, and old master drawings. The library is rightfully considered McKim’s masterpiece—a majestic, soaring space which is both intimate and warm. It features 30-foot ceilings, three tiers of bronze and walnut bookcases, stained glass, a huge marble fireplace and grand tapestries. Also visit Mr. Morgan’s study, with its red silk damask walls and antique wooden ceiling brought over from Florence. The library is off the typical tourist’s radar. Imagine yourself as Morgan in your private quarters, reveling in the power and wealth at your command.
210 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011, USA
For much of its history, the western edges of Manhattan neighborhoods like the West Village and Chelsea consisted of small manufacturing buildings and warehouses that served the piers on the Hudson River. Over time, those factories were replaced with residential developments, and shipping largely moved out to Brooklyn and New Jersey. What remained, however, was an abandoned light-rail line, located above street level. After 10 years of lobbying the city, state, and federal governments, the first section of the High Line park opened in 2009. It now extends for 1.45 miles, from Gansevoort Street in the south to 34th Street at its other end. An innovative design by James Corner Field Operations uses native species to preserve some of the feeling the old rail line had when it was overgrown with weeds. It has quickly become one of New York’s most popular attractions, both with residents and visitors who stroll the length of it, as well as a model for other cities attempting to find new uses for old infrastructure.
99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY 10040, USA
The Cloisters, a museum devoted to medieval art and architecture, is a delightful respite from the hustle and bustle of NYC. This tranquil treasure is definitely worth a half day (or more) trip on your next visit. A branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters opened in 1938 and is located in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan. Perched on a towering cliff, the museum offers commanding views over the Hudson River to New Jersey and the George Washington Bridge. The buildings include elements from medieval sites from Europe (primarily France) and renowned artwork includes the Unicorn Tapestries and the Annunciation Triptych, but the heart of the museum is the cloistered garden. This lush space consists of an interior courtyard surrounded by covered walkways. The flowering garden within invites contemplation and appreciation of a different time. The Cloisters includes a broad terrace with expansive views across the Hudson. The view is so prized that in 1901, J.P. Morgan purchased 12 miles of the New Jersey coastline to protect it from excessive quarrying and in 1933 John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated 700 additional acres of NJ to preserve The Cloisters’ view. Be sure to include time in your visit to explore beautiful Fort Tryon Park.
1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
The Met’s rooftop terrace, open from May to late fall, is a delightful spot for a breath of fresh air. Visitors are treated to unobstructed panoramic views of NYC’s skyline and Central Park’s lush treetops. The cafe serves wine, beer, specialty drinks, coffee, soft drinks, light snacks, and desserts to pick you up after hours of art and culture. The terrace also features an annual single-artist installation. Past years have included art from Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Frank Stella, and Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi. To visit the rooftop, look for the elevator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts galleries.
Hotels
2 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10010, USA
When hotelier Ian Schrager took over this landmark property in 2006, he brought in artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel to oversee the decor. The result is as sexy and provocative as you’d expect. In the lobby, red velvet curtains and hand-tufted rugs combine with centuries-old furnishings and a custom Venetian-glass chandelier for an haut Bohemian effect. Pieces from the likes of Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Richard Prince, and Jean-Michel Basquiat hang on the walls. —Jocelyn C. Zuckerman
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