One of our favorite things to do on a trip is to visit a top-notch museum, whether we see a blockbuster exhibit by an internationally known artist or we stumble upon a little-known institution with an exciting collection. We give you the list of new exhibits, museum openings and hidden gem museums that should help you craft your own masterpiece of an art trip this year.
Destination: New York City
What to see: The Whitney Museum of American Art made a splash with its new Renzo Piano-designed ship-shaped building in May 2015, but now the focus is on upcoming exhibits, like the provocative “Laura Poitras” (Feb. 5 to May 15, 2016). The exhibition will look at themes like NSA surveillance and post-9/11 America that are found in filmmaker-journalist Poitras’ work (she’s best known for directing the Citizenfour documentary with Edward Snowden).
Where to stay: Close to the Whitney and Chelsea galleries, The Jade Hotel Greenwich Village provides an Art Deco-inspired respite. The Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel’s rooms come with beds and desks made of shiny Macassar ebony wood, fetching jewel-toned Art Deco wallpaper and retro amenities like rotary telephones and Tivoli radios.
Destination: Colorado Springs
What to see: The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is an undiscovered arts-and-culture treasure. The center comprises a museum with more than 20,000 works, a theater and an art school. It has unexpected offerings, like yoga classes in a light-filled hall as well as an innovative Tactile Gallery where you’re encouraged to touch the art. It carries key pieces like Walt Kuhn’s Trio and Arthur Dove’s Fog Horns, but we’re partial to the Western-themed art, like Rocky Rodgers’ Arranged Paint, a striking portrait of an elder Native American man whose weathered face has more crags than nearby Pikes Peak.
Where to stay: The Broadmoor is the best place stay, and not only because it’s a Five-Star hotel. Owner Philip Anschutz has one the world’s largest collections of Western art, many of which adorn The Broadmoor’s walls. Take a complimentary hotel art tour or let the Rockies inspire you to create your own works; The Broadmoor has painting, photography and drawing classes as well as art retreats.
What to see: Dale Chihuly fans should make the trip to the distinctive stainless-steel dome that houses Tacoma’s Museum of Glass. Don’t miss the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a 500-foot steel-and-glass pedestrian bridge with installations that leads from the MOG’s rooftop to the downtown museum district. Visit “Chihuly’s Venetians: The George R. Stroemple Collection” (through Jan. 4, 2016) to see the artist’s fanciful take on Venetian vessels.
Where to stay: Hotel Murano’s Venice on the Sound package will score you two tickets to the exhibition and a photo book keepsake, among other perks. But this Four-Star hotel is a glass art destination unto itself: Take a docent-led tour of pieces from 45 artists from 12 countries. In the lobby, it looks like an invisible woman slipped on Czech Republic-based artist Karen LaMonte’s white cast-glass Pianist’s Dress, and in the Grand Corridor, a fleet of multi-colored Norse boats from Danish artist Vibeke Skov hangs high above.
Destination: San Francisco
What to see: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will reopen in spring 2016 with a new 10-story addition. Expect expansive free-admission areas, a glass-walled gallery that will be visible to passersby, a seventh-floor terrace with city vistas and a third-floor outdoor sculpture terrace with a vertical garden that will be San Francisco’s biggest public living wall of native plants.
Where to stay: The St. Regis San Francisco is the ideal base for your trip — SFMOMA is next door and the Museum of the African Diaspora is inside the Five-Star hotel. Plus, The St. Regis boasts its own collection of about 600 pieces. Check out Canadian Andrew Morrow’s Love and War, two large rusty-hued murals in the style of dramatic realism that face each other in the lobby.
Destination: Santa Fe
What to see: This city offers more than 250 art galleries and dealers. But our pick is the excellent Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the largest single repository in the world of her work. She’s known for her close-up flower paintings like Abstraction White Rose and pieces like Ram’s Head, Blue Morning Glory that show the beauty in New Mexico’s stark landscape. “From New York to New Mexico: Masterworks of American Modernism from The Vilcek Foundation Collection” (Sept. 25 to Jan. 10, 2016) looks at her work alongside others from America’s first generation of abstract artists, including Stuart Davis and Arthur Dove.
Where to stay: The Inn of the Five Graces could be a museum dedicated to Eastern interior design. Ira Seret (who did work for Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta) filled the rooms with Persian and Afghan rugs and fabrics, Tibetan artifacts and carved Indian wooden screens, while his wife, Sylvia, created intricate, bright mosaics on the kitchen and bathroom walls. Covet the inn’s style? Visit the family’s Seret and Sons décor store, a six-minute walk from the hotel.
What to see: Bangkok may have a nascent art scene, but it’s off to a solid start with the under-the-radar Museum of Contemporary Art. MOCA has everything from traditional art, like Watchara Klakhakhai’s “Legend of Sida,” in which Sida, who represents purity in the country’s Ramakien epic, dons a crown while bathed in golden light, to the quasi-surrealist work of Thawan Duchanee, who puts his own spin on Buddhist themes. Among the four rooms dedicated to the prominent Duchanee, check out the untitled painting of a red tiger-human hybrid with gold leaf accents.
Where to stay: Opened in 1876 as Thailand’s first hotel, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok was a regular spot for noted writers like Joseph Conrad and Noel Coward. Dig into its rich history in the onsite museum; for example, learn about how Somerset Maugham recovered from malaria at the Five-Star hotel and wrote The Gentleman in the Parlour during his recuperation.
Destination: The Hamptons
What to see: While New York City arguably reigns as the world’s art capital, great pockets exist not that far away in the Hamptons. The tiny Dan Flavin Art Institute hides in a nondescript former Bridgehampton church, where you can get up close to the artist’s tubular fluorescent installations without crowds. Head over to Water Mill for the Parrish Art Museum, whose 2,600 works span the 19th to the 21st centuries, then to East Hampton for the LongHouse Reserve’s 16-acre sculpture garden and the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, the preserved home and studio of husband-wife art duo Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.
Where to stay: Another such pocket can be found at Bridgehampton’s Topping Rose House. Christine Wächter of NYC-based Winston Wächter Fine Art swaps out the art twice yearly to keep the collection fresh. Throughout the Four-Star hotel, peer at pieces from Christopher Boffoli, who has a miniature man digging in a halved tomato in Heirloom Regrets, and German artist Hans Kotter, who tinkers with LED lights in Colour Code.
Destination: Bentonville, Arkansas
What to see: One of the best museums you’ve never heard of is tucked away among 120 acres in the Ozark forest. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art carries five centuries of important American art in eight pavilions. Take in works like Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits and Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton and then stroll around three miles of surrounding trails. Another reason to walk the grounds: On November 11, 2015, the museum will debut Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1954 Bachman-Wilson house, which it relocated from its flood-prone location along New Jersey’s Millstone River.
Where to stay: To continue your nature-art getaway, book a room at Pratt Place Inn and Barn in nearby Fayetteville. Set on 140 acres of pasture and woodland, the Four-Star hotel adds beautiful furnishings that owners sourced from their worldwide travels, including 18th-century French armoires, Persian rugs, antique Indonesian puppets and Qing Dynasty wedding chests.
What to see: As the region’s leading art institution, the Seattle Art Museum keeps a robust special exhibits roster. Take “Intimate Impressionism from The National Gallery of Art” (Oct. 1 to Jan. 10, 2016), which will showcase 71 works from Monet, Renoir, Cézanne, Degas and van Gogh. Many depict the artists’ favorite places and people they knew, and some were gifts shared among them. Catch this while you can, since Seattle marks the end of the exhibit’s worldwide tour.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Seattle sits across the street from SAM, but it touts its own haul of original Pacific Northwest art, the largest such collection outside of a museum. Spot works from artists such as Mark Tobey, Alden Mason and Margaret Tomkins in the public spaces (ask for the hotel’s self-guided art tour brochure). If you’re a Dale Chihuly devotee, the Five-Star hotel has a VIP experience that gives you private tours of his studio (which is off-limits to the public) and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum.
What to see: Stalwarts like the Louvre, Centre Pompidou and Musée d’Orsay will always be on the art bucket list, but the biggest buzz this fall belongs to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris’ exhibition of a great American Pop artist in “Warhol: Unlimited” (Oct. 2 to Feb. 7, 2016). This will mark the first European viewing of Warhol’s Shadows in its entirety—a rarity given its 102 silkscreened canvases of 17 different colors.
Where to stay: Salvador Dalí was such a loyal fan of Le Meurice, Dorchester Collection that he stayed there at least one month a year. The hotel pays homage to the artist with Le Dalí restaurant, which has a gold and ochre ceiling mural from Ara Stark and a polished brass reproduction of a Dalí chair whose three legs don heels. Plus, it fosters young talent with its yearly Meurice Prize for contemporary art, a juried international competition whose winner gets 20,000 euros and work displayed in Le Meurice (see inaugural winner Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s kissing columns, Le Baiser, in the foyer).
What to see: The preeminent Art Institute of Chicago showcases masterpieces like Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884. Another one to watch for is impressionist Edgar Degas’ “Degas: At the Track, On the Stage” (through February), which examines the human form riding horses and practicing ballet.
Where to stay: As the only hotel in a Mies van der Rohe building, The Langham, Chicago maintains its own artistic legacy with a carefully curated collection linked to the midcentury modern master and his relationship with the Bauhaus. Throughout the downtown hotel, encounter works from established artists like Claes Oldenburg, Judy Ledgerwood and Anish Kapoor as well as up-and-coming Chicagoans, such as Michelle Grabner, Jan Tichy and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. The latest addition is Ju Ming’s The Gentlemen. Standing on AMA Plaza, the installation, the first in Chicago by the Taiwanese sculptor, depicts 11 bronze-plated businessmen toting umbrellas.
What to see: Every art lover ought to make the obligatory pilgrimages to the Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia. But discover lesser-known spots like the Bargello sculpture museum; Palazzo Pitti, which includes the lovely Boboli Gardens; Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which holds overflow art from the Duomo; and Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, which has a luxe footwear collection from the Florentine designer.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is an art aficionado’s dream. Formerly a Renaissance palace and convent, the hotel is covered with stunning restored frescoes, bas-reliefs, stuccoes and silk wallpaper that date back five centuries. The lobby courtyard, which is now enclosed, is a standout with 12 bas-relief sections illustrating classical and mythological tales. And a lush 11-acre garden—the largest private garden in the city—is dotted with intriguing sculptures.
What to see: One of North America’s largest museums (thanks to a 2008 expansion from Toronto-born Frank Gehry), the Art Gallery of Ontario is a must. Get schooled in Canadian art with Métis artist Christi Belcourt’s The Wisdom of the Universe, which was inspired by the province’s endangered animals and plants, and the Group of Seven, a pack of landscape artists who felt that Canada had to find its artistic voice to identify as a nation. Catch “Into the Woods: Two Icons Revisited” (through February), which highlights the best-known paintings of Tom Thomson, who heavily influenced the Group of Seven.
Where to stay: You’ll know you’ve arrived at Four-Star SoHo Metropolitan Hotel, Toronto from the Dale Chihuly awning made up of 80 glass ornaments in reds, yellows and other vibrant hues. Then inside, behind the front desk, spy an installation of small 3D cubes that glow in neon shades of purple, blue and more. The guest room walls sport bright contemporary art, too.