Manhattan may be home to the world’s most iconic art museums and galleries, but it doesn’t hold a monopoly in NYC. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Westchester also offer impressive contributions to the city’s art scene. Here are just a few standouts from a long and diverse list.
• Socrates Sculpture Park
The Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Queens, is an outdoor museum and public park. Created in the ’80s, it was built on a former abandoned landfill by American sculptor Mark di Suvero. At 4 acres, it is one of the largest outdoor spaces in New York City. It hosts established artists, but also offers opportunities for emerging artists to put their work on display. In addition to the art exhibitions, there are frequent workshops and educational programming.
• The Noguchi Museum
The Noguchi Museum was opened in 1985 by Isamu Noguchi as a place to showcase and display his art. Located in Long Island City, it is designed to be a meditative oasis in an otherwise industrial part of the city. The museum is full of Noguchi’s sculptures, models, stage designs, drawings, and furniture designs. It also includes a garden, featuring in its center a 75-year-old tree called the Tree of Heaven.
• MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center
Unlike its counterpart in Manhattan, MoMA PS1 is an exhibition space rather than a museum that houses collections. As one of the oldest contemporary art institutions in the United States, MoMA PS1 has become synonymous with cutting-edge work from emerging and established artists alike. The featured artists are known to transcend genres, or create new ones of their own. The institution is home to a number of rotating contemporary exhibitions, special programs, film series, and member events. They feature programming for both children and adults.
• The Queens Museum
The Queens Museum, located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, is most commonly known for its 3D scale model of all five boroughs of New York, The Panorama of the City of New York. This piece, originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair, is one of many artifacts related to the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fair expositions. The building itself was built for the 1939 World’s Fair. The museum is also home to a permanent collection of art from Salvador Dali, Mark Dion, and Tiffany glass.
• The Bronx Museum of the Arts
The Bronx Museum is dedicated to contemporary and 20th-century American art. The museum originally opened in 1971 as a small installation on the first floor of the Bronx courthouse, featuring 28 paintings from The Met’s permanent collection. In 1982, the museum moved into a vacant synagogue. After multiple expansions and renovations the final iteration is the museum we know today. Along with American artists, the Bronx Museum is also known for hosting exhibitions from Latin, African, and Asian artists. Another bonus: The museum is always free to the public.
• Bronx River Art Center (BRAC)
The Bronx River Art Center is a performance space, gallery, educational center, and event venue all rolled into one. Founded in 1987, BRAC’s mission is to offer access and exposure to the arts to underserved communities in the area. Professional artists teach youth classes and workshops in everything from painting and sculpture to ceramics. On the exhibition side, the center offers a series of unique collections of contemporary work that challenges assumptions and showcases the work of exciting artists through a predominantly Bronx-centric lens. BRAC also offers performing art presentations that run the gamut from spoken word poetry to dance.
• The Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum, located near Crown Heights and Prospect Heights, is the third largest museum in NYC. It is home to over 1.5 million works of art. Originally opened in 1895, it was revitalized in the 20th century and reimagined many times. Today the Brooklyn Museum is known for its dedication to displaying works of art from diverse cultures, and is home to an extensive Egyptian and African art collection as well as a Feminist Art center. One of the most famous parts of the permanent collection is the Dinner Party by Judy Chicago, a well-known work of feminist art from the 1980s. The Brooklyn Museum is also entirely donation-based, and thus accessible to people of many different backgrounds.
• Art in General
Art in General is a contemporary art space in Brooklyn that hosts a rotating series of exhibits as well as an event series.
• Arts Westchester
Arts Westchester is a diverse organization that funds artists through a series of grants for art projects across mediums to promote art and culture throughout Westchester County. There is a gallery and exhibitions, as well as an events series, workshops, and classes. The exhibitions range in everything from photography to folk and textile arts.
NYC is home to a wonderful and varied collection of museums that span all of its five boroughs. While these are only a few of the options outside of Manhattan, they are notable ones that should surely be added to your must-see list for your next visit.