President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art Agnes Gund once told us, “The most important thing for people today in museums, and going to museums, is that they learn about the art by seeing it. And that you that you can’t replace it with the computer and the Internet. You just, no matter how much you want to educate people, you have to see the real thing; it’s very much different than seeing it on the Internet. I think you can get a sense of what you’re going to see [on the Internet], but the impact is much greater when you see it [in person].”
That’s precisely how we feel about the following New York museums and their works of art. Specifically, when that experience is shared with great friends.
Though New York City is often thought of as America’s art capital, what is not highlighted often enough are the masterpieces in institutions throughout New York State. Behold: a guide to our favorite museums around New York (listed in no particular order); we promise they’re worth leaving the City for.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve included museum hours as well as estimated travel times from New York City.
Storm King | New Windsor (Hudson Valley) | Travel Time: 1 Hour:
Though this Hudson Valley plein air sculpture garden galley is currently closed for the season, we encourage a visit corresponding with the start of spring. Reserve a date on your calendar for a stroll around the 500-acre sprawl of 130 larger-than-life works in the Hudson Valley. Let yourself become lost in the shadows of these massive structures by artists including Alexander Calder and Mark di Suvero, which play on human interaction with nature. End your tour of the grounds with Maya Lin’s “Storm King Wavefield.” These transcendent installations challenge the viewer’s perception against a breathtaking backdrop of the Hudson Valley.
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm; April 2 until November 30, 2014. Get to 1 Museum Road by car or bus.
Pollock Krasner House & Study Center | East Hampton (Long Island) | 2 Hours:
Step back in time to the radical period of the Abstract Expressionists by entering the home and converted-barn studio of this iconic artist couple. Not to be missed is Pollock’s studio floor, which is “covered with evidence of this singular [poured painting] process. It documents the evolution of ‘Autumn Rhythm,’ ‘Convergence,’ ‘Blue Poles,’ and many of his other masterpieces painted between 1946 and 1952.” Krasner made use of the same studio, though tacked her canvases to the walls rather than the floor. The Study Center is a treasure trove of 20th-century art historical scholarship and open by appointment.
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May-October; Closed Sunday-Wednesday.
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute | Utica (Central NY) | 3.5 Hours:
The arts scene in Utica is one of the city’s finest buried treasures. The “Munstitute” (this museum’s local moniker) is home to works by Winslow Homer and Thomas Cole’s “Voyage of Life” series. Find these American paintings and new events and exhibitions in this once upon a time industrial city of New York. While you’re in the area, drive 4 minutes to the studio of artist-in-residence program Sculpture Space, and 20 minutes to the Griffiss International Sculpture Garden in Rome.
The Munstitute is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm; Sunday, 1pm-5pm. Admission is free.
Burchfield Penney Art Center | Buffalo (Western NY) | 6 Hours:
Charles Burchfield was a renowned American watercolorist who lived and worked in Buffalo from 1921 until his death in 1967. The Art Center exhibits the largest public collection of Burchfield’s work and is committed to featuring continuous works by the artist that evoke memories and scenes from Western New York, and includes a reconstruction of Burchfield’s studio. “Mid-June” and “Winter Landscape with Trees” are two of NYSOM’s editor in chief’s favorites pieces. The building rests on the edge of the Buffalo State College campus and exhibits the work of current students and alumni of the school’s incredible Fine Arts program.
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, 10am–5pm; Thursday, 10am–9pm; Sunday 1–5pm; Closed on Monday.
View | Old Forge (Adirondacks) | 4.5 Hours:
Tucked away right in the Adirondacks is a haven for visual and performing arts that plays off of the natural and local beauty of the area. An annual gem is the Adirondacks National Exhibition of American Watercolors, typically in late-summer, that showcases the wide range of possibilities within this singular medium. Currently on view (until March 2) is New York resident Christian Carlson’s “Yardwork” series, which “explores the dichotomy between control and chaos in the cyclical management and somewhat futile maintenance of one’s lawn.” Yet a visit to View is one that’s a clear and calm escape from the cold Adirondack outdoors.
Open Thursday–Sunday, 11am-4pm.
The Fenton History Center | Jamestown (Chautauqua-Allegany)| 6 Hours:
One of Chautauqua’s most cherished Museums is the Fenton History Center, named for former New York Governor Reuben E. Fenton (also a member of Congress and the Senate, and one of the founders of the Republican Party). The center covers equal parts history, culture, even a genealogy department, and Lucille Ball exhibit. For a museum experience with a historical emphasis, set aside several hours here to take everything in.
Open Monday–Saturday, 10am–4pm.
Fenimore Art Museum | Cooperstown (Central NY) | 3.5 Hours:
The NYSOM girls visited this Central New York institution over the summer, when we had the distinct privilege of meeting Henry Cooper. Henry is a descendent of author James Fenimore Cooper, on the site of whose former home the museum was built. Henry’s favorite pieces can be found in the American Indian Art collection, one that encompasses some of the earliest moments of our nation’s history. Overlooking Otsego Lake with a beautiful back patio for lunching in the sun, this spot is bustling during the warmer months. Pair your trip here with a visit to the Farmer’s Museum, located across the street.
Closed January 1-March 31. Reopens April 1, 2014.
The Hyde Collection | Glens Falls (just north of the Capital-Saratoga Region) | 3 Hours, 15 Minutes:
An absolute must-see for all New Yorkers, according to our Marketplace Director. “Their collection is exquisite and they have really done a great job bringing traveling exhibitions that resonate with the region, like the recent Georgia O’Keeffe show. They also have wonderful collaborations with local youth organizations, which I love.” Currently on view (through Apr. 20) are 40 early works by American landscape photographer master Ansel Adams, “a fresh look at key images by the artist from the 1920s through the 1950s,” according to the institution.
Open Tuesday–Saturday, 10am–5pm; Sunday, 12pm–5pm; Closed on Monday. Free Admission on the second Sunday of every month.
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art | Ithaca (Finger Lakes) | 3 Hours, 50 Minutes:
Located at Cornell University, the Johnson is no hum-drum college museum. A building designed by I.M. Pei — a work of art in its own right — is filled with an entire textbook of over 35,000 works across important eras in art history. Travel through time and continents at this worldly locale, from Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti to Chinese millennial photographer Cao Fei, while in the comfort of Ithaca.
Open Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm; Closed on Monday. Admission is free.
The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum & Art Gallery | Saratoga Springs (Capital-Saratoga Region) | 3 Hours
Whether you’re a student, a long-ago graduate, or simply swinging through Saratoga on your way to the Race Course, the Tang Teaching Museum hosts over 6,000 objects, with exhibitions of works ranging from Andy Warhol to Hildur Asgeirsdottir Jonsson. In 2006, conceptual artist Sol LeWitt visited the Tang to oversee one of his last projects before his death in 2007. LeWitt led a team of four artists (including a Skidmore alum) over a 16-day execution of the drawing in the museum’s atrium. Visit the Tang with an open mind and an hour of your time; it’s like stepping back into the classroom for one prodigious lecture.
Open Tuesday–Sunday, 12pm – 5pm; Thursday until 9pm; Closed Monday.
Click to see Sol LeWitt’s time-lapse drawing: https://tang.skidmore.