With spring upon us and summer just around the corner, many New Yorkers are feeling acute pangs of wanderlust. Never ones to leave lust unfulfilled, we have compiled a nearly comprehensive list of art destinations situated within a day of the city (based on Google Maps driving directions departing from the Metropolitan Museum.) By our calculations, if you visit one of them every weekend, you’ll get out of the city and see some incredible art up through Thanksgiving. No time to lose; let’s get started.
Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, New York (Distance from NYC: 41.7 miles)
Founded in 1953, the KMA is a non-collecting museum located just north of New York City (it’s easily accessible via Metro North). It organizes between 10 and 12 exhibitions every year, the current marquee show being focused on the printmaking practices of Jasper Johns and John Lund (through June 15). Its next major special exhibition, opening June 29, will focus on portrayals of the landscape in contemporary Icelandic art, a mercifully refreshing subject for a midsummer show.
The Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, Connecticut (Distance from NYC: 42.4 miles)
This icon of modern architecture—and wet dream of exhibitionists everywhere—was built in 1949 and, in 1997, declared a National Historic Landmark. In addition to tours, it also hosts an ambitious program of exhibitions. The current lineup includes Fujiko Nakaya’s magical site-specific fog experience, “Veil” (through November 30), and an exhibition of Al Taylor’s drawings and found material sculptures curated by Robert Storr (through July 15).
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (Distance from NYC: 52.4 miles)
Connecticut’s only contemporary art museum, the Aldrich has been around since 1964, when it was founded by collector Larry Aldrich, and it is still housed in the 18th-century church and adjacent general store that he bought with the money he made selling off his collection of European modern art. In honor of its 50th anniversary, the Aldrich’s biggest exhibition at the moment looks at Ree Morton and the four Roberts—Indiana, Morris, Rauschenberg, Smithson—who were at the core of the institution’s collection during its first decade. Alongside “Standing in the Shadows of Love: The Aldrich Collection 1964–1974” (through September 21) are solo shows devoted to Michelle Lopez, Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Taylor Davis, and more.
Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York (Distance from NYC: 58 miles)
It’s no wonder Storm King has become the destination of choice for New York City’s art day-trippers; the place is simply magical. And in case its permanent collection of more than 100 outdoor sculptures—including pieces by Alice Aycock, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Louise Nevelson, Alexander Calder, and Mark di Suvero—weren’t enough to entice you, this summer’s special exhibitions are a show of Zhang Huan’s monumental sculptures (through November 9) and an installation by Virginia Overton (through November 30).
Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York (Distance from NYC: 61.4 miles)
If Donald Judd’s plywood boxes aren’t working for you in the comparatively cramped quarters of MoMA’s permanent collection galleries or David Zwirner’s 20th Street compound, maybe you need to see them inside the Dia Art Foundation’s vast Upstate museum, housed in a former box-printing factory on the banks of the Hudson. This place is to large-scale American Minimalist and conceptual art as Houston’s Rothko Chapel is to, well, Mark Rothko paintings. It also has exceptionally deep holdings of works by Warhol, John Chamberlain, and Louise Bourgeois. The current special exhibition, chronicling more than 50 years of Carl Andre’s sculptures, is a must for any contemporary art completist.
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut (Distance from NYC: 75 miles)
The Western Hemisphere’s oldest university art museum (founded in 1832) is looking very new these days, following a 14-year, $135 million expansion and renovation project that was completed in December of 2012. The institution, which does not charge admission, now benefits from nearly 70,000 square feet of space sprawling over three linked buildings. Its encyclopedic collection is heavy works from Impressionism onward, and its special exhibitions tend to be exceptionally well-researched and revelatory. The current roster of shows is no exception, and includes an exhibition of contemporary South African art (through September 14), and a photography exhibition focused on Lee Friedlander and Milt Hinton’s jazz images (through September 7).
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut (Distance from NYC: 75 miles)
Located just across the street from its sister Yale museum, the Center for British Art is the closest thing to heaven your inner anglophile will find this side of the pond (that’s British English for “Atlantic Ocean”). Housed in a building designed by Louis Kahn that opened to the public in 1977, three years after the architect’s death, it has the largest collection of British art outside the UK. So if you’re pining after some Constables, some Turners, some Whistlers, or some Rubens, look no further. The YCBA also maintains a top-shelf special exhibitions program, and the highlight of its current lineup is undoubtedly the survey of landscape paintings by Richard Wilson (1741–82), the artist’s first major museum exhibition in three decades.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York (Distance from NYC: 76.4 miles)
In addition to substantial holdings of your usual modern art suspects—Picasso, Pollock, O’Keeffe, Bacon, Calder, etc.—Vassar’s formidable art museum (founded in 1864) benefits from a standout collection of Old Master prints donated by banker Felix Warburg (it includes pieces by Rembrandt and Dürer) and a trove of Hudson River School paintings that were donated by school founder Matthew Vassar himself. Today the museum’s collection boasts more than 19,000 objects and is housed in a Cesar Pelli–designed building that was inaugurated in 1993. The current exhibition is focused on portrayals of natural and artificial light throughout art history, from Edvard Munch’s Scandinavian noirs to Hopper’s uncannily bright streetscapes. That show runs through June 29, but if you miss it, don’t worry, the museum’s next special exhibition (July 11–August 31) sounds even better: It will be a survey of the different ways that self-taught artists (including Henry Darger, Thornton Dial, Steven Ashby, and others) portray the human figure.
The Hessel Museum of Art at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (Distance from NYC: 104 miles)
Though it had been presenting temporary exhibitions since its founding in 1994, CCS Bard inaugurated the new 17,000-square-foot Hessel Museum in 2006 to house not only its rotating shows—most of which are student-curated—but also the more than 1,700 contemporary artworks donated by collector Marieluise Hessel. After the current trio of exhibitions curated by CCS students closes on May 25, the Hessel will host solo shows of works by conceptual photographer Anne Collier and abstract painter Amy Sillman. When visiting CCS, don’t miss the outdoor installation the school commissioned from Olafur Eliasson, The Parliament of Reality (2009), sited near Bard’s performing arts center.
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut (Distance from NYC: 108 miles)
Since its founding in 1853—when it was known as the New Britain Institute and was aimed at educating introducing newly arrived immigrants—the NBMAA has amassed an exceptionally comprehensive collection of American art. Numbering more than 11,700 works, its holdings include stand-out groups of works by the Hudson River School painters, the Ash Can School artists, American Impressionists like Mary Cassatt, John Henry Twachtman, and Willard Metcalf, up through Pop art and Minimalism. In addition to its impressive collection, the NBMAA has an impressive lineup of temporary exhibitions including, currently, an exhibition of American typewriters and solo shows by Beth Lipman and Joe Fig, and a survey of contemporary glass art opening June 21.
The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut (Distance from NYC: 110 miles)
Founded in 1842 by the legendary arts patron (and amateur artist) Daniel Wadsworth, the Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the US, and its encyclopedic collection of nearly 50,000 objects spanning some 5,000 years includes everything from Impressionist artworks and Hudson River School paintings to Samuel Colt’s collection of guns and stand-out contemporary art holdings, spread across its five-building campus. Many of the museum’s galleries are currently closed for renovations, so its only current special exhibition is a survey of European masterpieces from its permanent collection. On June 5 it will open a solo project by Ruben Ochoa that will be the latest in its MATRIX cycle of contemporary art shows, which began in 1975.
Olana State Historic Site, Hudson, New York (Distance from NYC: 119 miles)
Visiting Frederic Church’s breathtaking, 250-acre estate in the hills over Hudson, New York, is the closest you’ll ever come to walking into one of the Hudson River School artist’s dramatic landscape paintings. Between its meticulously groomed grounds, exotically decorated Venetian palazzo-style house, and the stunning view down onto the Hudson river, Olana—all of which Church spent the last four decades of his life perfecting—is both a wondrous time capsule and a kind of sprawling conceptual Gesamtkunstwerk.
OMI International Arts Center, Ghent, New York (Distance from NYC: 121 miles)
The OTHER big New York sculpture park, OMI has a more multidisciplinary mission than Storm King, with dance, music, and writing enjoying equal prominence with visual art and architecture. That said, the current lineup of outdoor works boasts a bevy of big names, including Mel Kendrick, Alice Aycock, and Erwin Wurm, with this summer’s slate of new sculptures—featuring pieces by Alison Saar, Rob Fischer, Afruz Amighi, and more—debuting on June 14. The Center, which was established by real estate mogul Francis Greenburger, also benefits from an indoor gallery space where this summer’s special exhibition will be a Stephen Westfall solo show (also opening June 14).
The School, Kinderhook, New York (Distance from NYC: 125 miles)
Chelsea dealer Jack Shainman just inaugurated his vast Upstate outpost, which, as its name suggests, is housed in a former elementary school building. With its 30,000 square feet, the 1929 building can accommodate multiple exhibitions or a sprawling show devoted to a gallery artist, like Nick Cave, whose sculptures and dazzling Soundsuits are the subjects of the inaugural program. Located just north of Hudson, Kinderhook—president Martin Van Buren’s hometown—is a bit of a trek to get to, but has also retained more of its authenticity than many nearby communities on the banks of the Hudson that are overrun with New York City transplants.
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, Massachusetts (Distance from NYC: 166 miles)
Plans for Mass MOCA began to take shape in 1986, when the Williams College Museum of Art was looking of a bigger space in which to exhibit large-scale works of contemporary art, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the retrofitted and gut-renovated buildings of the Arnold Print Works and Sprague Electric Company opened to the public as Mass MOCA. Since then the institution has been gradually adapting more of the 26 buildings on its former manufacturing campus into flexible gallery spaces. In addition to long-term installations and commissions by the likes of Joseph Beuys, Natalie Jeremijenko, and Don Gummer, as well as a whole building of Anselm Kiefer works on long-term loan from collectors Andrew and Christine Hall, Mass MOCA keeps a stacked schedule of special exhibitions that currently includes shows by Darren Waterston, Mark Dion, Gisele Amantea, and Izhar Patkin, among others. Later this week the museum opens a major solo show by Teresita Fernández.
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts (Distance from NYC: 172 miles)
Though the city of Worcester has fallen on hard times, look no further than the shockingly rich collection of medieval masterpieces and Old Masters at its art museum to get a sense of its former wealth. The Worcester Art Museum—which just absorbed the formidable armor and weapons collection of the dissolved Higgins Armory Museum—has a fantastic permanent collection and puts on plenty of special exhibitions considering its modestly sized building. In addition to the long-term blockbuster “Knights!,” which draws on the Higgins collection and features one of Michael Keaton’s Batman suits, there’s a show of recently acquired LaToya Ruby Frazier photos and an upcoming showcase for a pair of recently restored William Hogarth portraits (opening July 19).
Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York (Distance from NYC: 250 miles)
In the short time since it opened in the fall of 2012, the Wellin has quickly carved out a niche as one of Upstate New York’s foremost museums, with a sensitively designed building that showcases its eclectic permanent collection and a strong contemporary art program. The Wellin’s current special exhibition is devoted to the just-deceased Indian photographer Pranlal Patel, and its next major solo show will feature new and recent works by Brooklyn-based sculptor Alyson Shotz, and opens in the fall.
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York (Distance from NYC: 258 miles)
Not unlike the Wellin, you’d have to be a little crazy to make a day trip to the Corning Museum, although you could technically do it—you’d just miss out on all that glorious Upstate scenery. But with a new wing on the way, a major exhibition devoted to René Lalique that just opened, and a permanent collection spanning some 3,500 years, there’s certainly more than enough to make the trek worthwhile. The museum’s ongoing displays juxtapose historic works with glass pieces by such contemporary artists as Beth Lipman, Josiah McElheny, Tony Cragg, and Robert Rauschenberg.
Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, New Jersey (Distance from NYC: 8.8 miles)
This sprawling Jersey City exhibition space—the gallery portion of the rapidly expanding Mana art shipping, storage, framing, and crating empire—hosts a startlingly high caliber of exhibitions, from the recent shows of Pablo Picasso and Keith Haring, to “The Very Best of Judy Chicago” and an exhibition of Milton Resnick works, both on view through August 1. The exhibition space’s centerpiece is the Richard Meier–designed Mana Glass Gallery, a column-free 50,000-square-foot expanse currently hosting “Mana Exposition” (also through August 1), curated by Ray Smith and featuring works by Ai Weiwei, Ron Gorchov, Rita Ackerman, Francesco Clemente, Julian Schnabel, and innumerable other big names you’d never expect to find in a Jersey City warehouse. (Next month Mana will begin construction on the new Museum of Urban Art, set to take over a former ice factory near the Holland Tunnel entrance and become, in due time, a day trip destination in its own right.)
Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey (Distance from NYC: 40 miles)
Founded in 1966, when it was known as the Rutgers University Art Gallery, the Zimmerli assumed its current form in 1983, and now counts some 60,000 objects in its permanent collection. Its 70,000-square-foot building houses choice works from that collection—which includes exceptional holdings of Soviet Nonconformist art, works on paper by American and European artists, and 19th-century French paintings—as well as an ambitious special exhibitions program. Current exhibitions include a close examination of the avant-garde scene in Odessa from the 1960s to the ’80s (through October 19), and a show of representations of World War One in drawings and prints by French artists (through July 31).
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey (Distance from NYC: 54.3 miles)
The Ivy League school’s art department and art museum were both founded in 1882, and in the 132 years since the Princeton University Art Museum’s collection has grown to include some 92,000 works, with particularly deep holdings of Greek and Roman antiquities, medieval sculpture and stained glass, and contemporary art. It also benefits from a slew of long-term loans from Princeton alumni, including Herbert (class of 1963) and Lenore Schorr, who keep quite possibly the world’s biggest collection of paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat at the museum. In addition to a show of Edvard Munch prints (through June 8), the Princeton University Art Museum’s spring and summer offerings include a show of abstract paintings spanning 1950–90 from the collection of Preston Haskell (another alum, class of 1960), and a retrospective of Lee Bontecou’s drawings (opening June 28).
Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey (Distance from NYC: 69 miles)
Jersey’s Storm King, artist Seward Johnson’s 42-acre sculpture pack, which first opened to the public in 1992, now boasts some 270 pieces, including works by Anthony Caro, Kiki Smith, Saint Clair Cemin, and John Henry, as well as New Jersey local George Segal. In addition to the permanent collection, the park is currently hosting its largest special exhibition to date, a retrospective featuring 113 monumental and sentimental sculptures by Johnson himself. This is your chance to see his much-ridiculed Forever Marilyn in person!
The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Distance from NYC: 98.2 miles)
The controversial move is a done deal and now the richest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings this side of the Atlantic is in downtown Philadelphia. Great care has gone into preserving the proportions and eclectic hanging configurations of Albert Barnes’s original museum in Merion, which can make for a sardine-like viewing experience on busy weekend days. But with its collection of canonical Cézannes, Van Goghs, Renoirs, Matisses, and more, the Barnes is essential viewing for any serious lover of art. By way of raising its blockbuster quotient, the museum is mounting a special exhibition of Cézanne still lifes this summer (opening June 22).
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Distance from NYC: 99 miles)
America’s most important art museum outside the New York-Los Angeles power axis is about to embark on its most ambitious expansion and renovation project—designed by Frank Gehry no less—since it was founded in 1876. Meanwhile it remains a destination for its unparalleled holdings of modern art from the first half of the 20th century, especially its trove of works by Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. Its modern and contemporary collections continue to gather major works—in 2010, for instance, the museum acquired a trove of more than 1,400 Paul Strand photographs—and its costume department is among the country’s most dynamic. Current exhibitions that will make your trek to the sixth borough worthwhile include a major retrospective of African-American fashion designer Patrick Kelly (through November 30), and a special exhibition of the only Vermeer painting still in a private collection, Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (circa 1670–72), on view through September 30.
Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Distance from NYC: 100 miles)
In the 51 years since its founding—its 50th anniversary programming, including a lineup of two-week mini-shows, continues through August 17—the ICA has seen its share of glamour and drama, from giving Andy Warhol his first-ever museum show (in 1965) to ending up at the center of a censorship battle at the height of the culture wars over a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition (in 1989). Today it is one of the East Coast’s most dynamic non-collecting museums, typically hosting two exhibitions at a time in its split-level space on the UPenn campus. In addition to its anniversary programing, the ICA’s other special exhibition this summer is “Ruffneck Constructivists,” a show curated by Kara Walker around themes of urban space, protest, and political conflict (also through August 17).
Artlantic, Atlantic City, New Jersey (Distance from NYC: 130 miles)
Though it was nearly derailed by Hurricane Sandy, this public art park on the Atlantic City boardwalk curated by Lance M. Fung survived the storm and launched with major installations by Kiki Smith and Russian husband-wife duo Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Its second season brought new commissions by Jedediah Morfit and Robert Lach.
Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn, New York (Distance from NYC: 24.4 miles)
The Nassau County Museum of Art’s main building and the surrounding 145-acre sculpture park were originally the abode of longtime New York Post editor William Cullen Bryant, who settled in Roslyn in 1843. In 1965, after the death of its former occupant, Childs Frick—son of Henry Clay Frick, who bought it for Childs—Nassau County purchased the property with the intention of turning it into an art museum. The permanent collection, which now numbers more than 500 works, spans from Pierre Bonnard and Auguste Rodin to Alex Katz and Robert Indiana, while the sculpture garden displays works by Fernando Botero, Richard Serra, Tom Otterness, and the like. A current temporary exhibition (on view through July 6) brings together renderings of outdoor parties by the likes of David Hockney, Marc Chagall, Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Mapplethorpe, and more, while the upcoming show “ Still Life: 1970s Photorealism” (opening July 19) boasts works by such hyperrealists as Malcolm Morley, Audrey Flack, and Duane Hanson.
Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York (Distance from NYC: 38.1 miles)
On Long Island’s north shore, Huntington’s modest art museum nevertheless mounts some worthwhile exhibitions, including a historical show of Eadweard Muybridge’s early motion study photography and a complementary permanent collection exhibition on the theme of repetition in modern and contemporary art. Founded in 1920 with 185 works donated by its namesake, German-born mining mogul August Heckscher, the Heckscher’s collection now numbers some 2,500 works, with especially strong holdings of landscape paintings by American artists and works by Long Island locals.
Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (Distance from NYC: 92.5 miles)
Since its founding in 1898. the Hamptons’ foremost art museum has been doing invaluable work tracking the output of artists visiting, living, and working on Eastern Long Island. And the institution has seriously upped its game since its 2012 move into a stunning new building in Water Mill designed by Herzog & de Meuron—a minimalist barn of sorts, except it’s made of concrete, steel, and glass and is about as long as a train. In addition to its strong holdings of the many famous artists who’ve spent time in the Hamptons—Chuck Close, John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Elizabeth Peyton, and so on—the Parrish also has major troves of paintings by William Merritt Chase and Fairfield Porter. This season the museum has a major Jennifer Bartlett retrospective and will be mounting a Maya Lin exhibition later this summer.
LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton, New York (Distance from NYC: 104 miles)
A sculpture park on a decidedly more Long Island scale, LongHouse’s lineup for the spring and summer of 2014 includes works by Alexander Calder, Gaston Lachaise, Fitzhugh Karol, Mariyo Yagi, among others. And then there are the works on permanent display by Willem de Kooning, Yoko Ono, and Dale Chihuly (well, nobody’s perfect). Designer and collector Jack Lenor Larsen’s Hamptons estate presents all these giants of contemporary art as well as a sprawling and classically designed garden.