Metropolitan, Shmetropolitan

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The Met and MoMA are undeniably spectacular, but you’ll visit them for Art and Lit Hum sometime in the next four years. Instead, Bwog recommends that you art fans start with obscurity and work your way up! Bwog art critic Julia Butareva brings you nine museums where tourists won’t clog the exhibits. You’re a New Yorker now, after all.



P.S. 1,  an extension of MoMA focusing on young contemporary artists, is in Queens.  That’s right, Queens. The art is a mixed bag, but it’s a wonderful place to spend the day–if the art tires you, hang out on the roof and observe all the fashionable people.  All summer, they hold Warm Up dance parties, which involve beer and more fashionable people.  Hurry, because the last one is on Sept. 2nd.  Columbia students get in free here – it’s part of MoMA – but bring $10 for the dance party cover.

Admission: Free

Hours: 12-6 Thursday through Monday

Address: Jackson Ave. and 46th Ave. in Long Island City

Directions: 1 to Times Square, then 7 to 45th Rd./Courthouse Square; Exit onto Jackson Avenue and walk right one block to 46th Avenue.

Studio Museum in Harlem

This is a lovely, community-oriented museum within walking distance of Columbia.  Exhibits of high school kids’ photography share space with fun and interesting contemporary art by mostly local artists.

Admission: $3 suggested

Hours: 12-6; Saturday 10-6

Address: 144 West 125th Street

Directions: Walk north to 125th and head east.

Neue Galerie

The Neue Galerie splashed front pages recently when Robert S. Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, bought Klimt’s portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer for a record-breaking $135 million. The place is snooty as hell, but it’s still the place to be for German and Austrian Expressionism. In addition to well-curated shows that include artists like Max Beckmann, George Grosz, Otto Dix, and Hannah Hoch, they have an amazing collection of drawings and paintings by Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka.  If only it were free.

Admission: $10

Hours: 11-6; Friday 11-9; closed Tuesday and Wednesday

Address: 1048 5th Ave. (at 86th Street)

Directions: 1 to 86th, then M86 bus


The architecture of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, located in Fort Green, Brooklyn, exemplifies the ambition of this museum of African American art. Go for that, and stay to enjoy the film festivals and workshops.

Admission: $3 suggested

Hours: 11-6 Wednesday to Sunday

Address: 80 Hanson Place

Directions: take the 1 to the 2.  Ride the 2 into Brooklyn and get off at Atlantic.  Walk along Atlantic until you get to Hanson Place.


El Museo del Barrio

El Museo, specializing in Latin American and Caribbean art, is a well-respected New York institution–there’s no way it should be on a list of unknowns.  It.  The exhibits are a lot better than the permanent collection, so check the website and go when something looks appealing.

Admission: $4 suggested

Hours: 11-5 Wednesday to Sunday

Address: 230 Fifth Avenue (at 104th Street

Directions: 1 to 110th, M4 bus to 5th Ave.


Japan Society

Last year, the Japan Society hosted a wonderful exhibit about the apocalyptic (i.e. the Bomb) in the Japanese consciousness. It was curated by Takashi Murakami, who designed those Louis Vuitton bags, and featured much anime and other Japanese delights.  This year, they have a fabulous-sounding film festival called Lolita in Full Bloom: 1980s Irresistible Heroines.

Admission: Varies by exhibition

Hours: 11-6; 11-9 on Fridays; closed Mondays

Address: 333 East 47th Street

Directions: Take the 1 to Times Square and walk or take the 7 to Grand Central

Chelsea Art Museum

Yet another mixed bag.  I recall one exhibit that included Goya’s Caprichos and contemporary artists’ responses to them.  The other show was pretty dull—but then, Chelsea is always worth a visit.

Admission: $3

Address: 556 West 22nd Street

Hours: 12-6 Tuesday to Saturday; Thursday 12-8

Directions: 1 to 23rd Street

Jewish Museum

Vacillates between the provincial and the spectacular.  Last year’s otherwise excellent Modigliani show stretched the definition of “Jewish artist” a bit too much, but the current Eva Hesse sculpture exhibit looks promising.

Admission: $7.50; pay what you wish Thursdays

Hours: 11-5:45; 11-9 Thursday; 11-3 Friday

Saturday, 11 am – 5:45 pm

Address: 1109 Fifth Avenue (at 92nd Street)

Directions: 1 to 96th, then M96 bus

Jim Kempner Fine Art 

I happened to walk into Jim Kempner one day last spring and found myself staring at a series of amazing Rauschenberg prints.  As I continued to walk around – through the sculpture garden, up the stairs to the beautifully designed second floor – I saw works by Donald Judd, William Kentridge, Alex Katz, Chuck Close, Helen Frankenthaler, and Jeff Koons, to name a few. This is not technically a museum, and you will most likely witness obscenely rich people drop the kind of money on paintings that I might spend on a house, but it’s really a great space.

Admission: Free

Hours: 10-6 Tuesday to Saturday

Address: 501 W. 23rd Street

Directions: 1 to 23rd Street


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  1. museumophile

    I do believe we get into the neue galerie for free well as other unmentioned gems here like the cloisters and the asia society.

  2. obscure

    editors, please correct the use of "obscure" and "obscurity" within two sentences; it reeks of poor proofreading.

  3. proofer

    also, the word "it." in the barrio is not a complete sentence. it also clearly was not proofed

  4. former intern

    Also, the exhibitions for the Sotheby's auctions are up for a week before the auction and free to the public. The auctions themselves are also free, and awesome.

  5. McAfee

    The last link is broken.

  6. someone

    we get in free to studio museum and museo el barrio with our IDs.

  7. Rubin Museum

    ...anyone? Himalayan art is cool.

    Also, the Neue is definitely not free (unless something changed this summer).

  8. hey  

    this post isn't funny

  9. dsz

    actually, the best thing about PS1 is that it's near 5 pointz, a huge warehouse completely covered in grafitti. skip the moma, investigate the building.

  10. Anonymous

    neue gallerie has a wonderful cafe, cafe sabarsky, and their black forest chocolate cakes are to die for. you have to try it.

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