Arts & Culture
The Empire State is famed as a place where artists were born, crafted their work or simply were inspired. Its authors, artists, performers and designers have long defined American culture, and continue to do so today. From the 19th century paintings of the Hudson River School, to classic American literature, architecture and more modern culture like Louis Armstrong, Lucille Ball and the 1969 Woodstock Festival, New York’s historic contributions to American arts and culture are just waiting to be explored. Below are ideas to help you get started on your Arts & Culture Path Through History!
Below are ideas to help you get started on your Arts & Culture Path Through History!
Artists like Pollock, de Kooning, Porter, Vicente, Lichtenstein, Fischl, Chamberlain, Gornik and Close have been attracted to the beauty and light of Eastern Long Island ever since the Long Island railroad extended its service there in 1870. The Parrish Art Museum, now in Water Mill first opened its doors in 1898, and today acts as a record of the East End’s contributions to the art world.
Jackson Pollock is the preeminent leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement and considered one of the most revolutionary figures in the history of twentieth-century art. The Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center in East Hampton allows visitors to see the house and studio where he and his wife, Lee Krasner, lived and worked in the mid 20th century.
“O Captain, My Captain!” The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site in Huntington Station serves the dual purpose of exploring the life of the famous poet and reflecting a typical day in the life of a 19th century Long Island family. Built around 1819, the restored home contains 19th-century furnishings and unusual architecture, and exhibits like portraits, manuscripts, artifacts, a schoolmaster's desk and a recording of Whitman's voice.
Ranked among the nation’s most important suburban art museums, the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor sits on the 145-acre estate formerly owned by Childs Frick Estate. Set within 145 acres of woodlands, specimen trees, hiking trails, formal gardens and a world-class outdoor sculpture park, the museum also features a miniatures museum, cafe, and programs for families, lectures and special events.
Nassau County Museum of Art
Parrish Art Museum
Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center
Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site
Find other exciting attractions in the Long Island region.
New York City:
New York was home to some of the greatest African-American musicians ever known. Louis Armstrong, the world’s most famous jazz musician, could have lived anywhere, but in 1943, he settled in a modest house in Corona, Queens where he and his wife lived for the remainder of their lives. The Louis Armstrong House Museum and its furnishings remain very much as they were then, and visitors can take a tour featuring audio clips from Louis’s homemade recordings and an exhibit on his life and legacy. Over in Manhattan, guests can tour the world-famous Apollo Theater which since the 1930s has been the premiere showplace for live, theatrical entertainment in Harlem, hosting greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.
African American culture is preserved throughout New York. The Studio Museum in Harlem is a contemporary art museum founded in 1968 as the first museum in the US devoted to the art of African-Americans, specializing in 19th and 20th century work as well work of artists of African descent. Nearby, the Schomburg Center, a division of the New York Public Library, has collected and preserved materials documenting black life, and promoted the study of the history and culture of peoples of African descent for over 80 years. It offers exhibitions, tours and programs, in addition to access to its wide-ranging research collection.
The Museum of Chinese in America in Chinatown is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States. The Maya Lin designed museum brings 160 years of Chinese American history to vivid life through innovative exhibitions and programs. The surrounding Chinatown neighborhood has long been known for its Chinese ethnic cuisine, food stores and tourist shops.
New York has long been a center for Jewish culture in America. The Jewish Museum on Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile in Manhattan is devoted exclusively to Jewish art and culture, with collections and exhibitions spanning 4,000 years, from ancient artifacts to contemporary art to radio and television programs.
The Times Square Museum and Visitor Center gives a taste of the history and excitement of Broadway theater with exhibits and video. The center is located amid the neon lights, giant billboards, electronic ticker tape, theaters and television studios of Times Square, still known as “The Crossroads of the World.”
Showing works by Chagall, Degas, Picasso and Van Gogh, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Manhattan’s upper east side is itself is a work of art. Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece of modern architecture houses a permanent collection of 20th century art as well as special exhibits. Similarly, the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, also on Museum Mile, is housed in another work of art: Andrew Carnegie's 1902 mansion, the first private residence in the U.S. to have a structural steel frame and one of the first in New York to have a Otis passenger elevator. It is the only museum in the nation devoted exclusively to historic and contemporary design.
El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem focuses on Latin American, Latino and Caribbean art – from ancient to modern -- including works by self-taught artists from New York and further afield. Visitors of all backgrounds are invited to discover the artistic and cultural landscape of the Caribbean and Latin America through exhibitions, performances and programs.
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
El Museo del Barrio
Louis Armstrong House Museum
Museum of Chinese in America
Times Square Museum and Visitor Center
Find other exciting attractions in the New York City region.
In 1835, Washington Irving -- author of such classics as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” -- bought a two-room Dutch stone house on the banks of the Hudson. He expanded and extensively remodeled the building, and made the grounds more picturesque, creating hills, a pond, and a meandering stream with a waterfall. Today, in the town of Tarrytown, guides in period dress lead tours of the Washington Irving’s Sunnyside cottage, giving visitors one of the most authentic experiences of mid-19th century life anywhere in America.
More than 120 monumental 20th-century sculptures harmoniously and dramatically interact with 500 acres of landscape at the world-renowned Storm King Art Center outdoor sculpture park and museum in Mountainville. Guided daily tours, family programs, concerts, and hikes among rolling hills, lawns, fields and woodlands highlight the relationship between art and nature.
The 16-foot-high ceilings, sawtooth skylights and 300,000 square feet of interior space in a former Nabisco box-printing plant make an appropriate setting for Dia: Beacon in Beacon and its renowned collection of art from the 1960s to the present, including works by Joseph Beuys, Donald Judd, On Kawara, Agnes Martin, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol.
Olana State Historic Site in Hudson was the home of Frederic Church, renowned landscape painter of the 19th century Hudson River School. His house incorporates exotic architectural elements and the surrounding area is considered a landmark of picturesque landscape gardening with a lake, carriage drives and unrivaled panoramic views of the Hudson Valley. An array of Church's art and collections are displayed and a gallery on the second floor features annual exhibitions.
Olana State Historic Site
Storm King Art Center
Find other exciting attractions in the Hudson Valley region.
The Museum at Bethel Woods at Woodstock National Heritage Site in Bethel tells the story of the transformative impact of the social, political and cultural events of the 1960s. Through film, interactive displays and artifacts, the museum creates an immersive experience exploring the 1969 Woodstock music festival, its significance as a culminating event of a decade of cultural change, and the legacy of the sixties and Woodstock today.
Founded in 1902 and situated on 300 wooded acres with 30 unique, picturesque buildings, the Byrdcliffe Art Colony in Woodstock is America’s oldest continuing arts and crafts colony. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Byrdcliffe houses an artist in residence program and offers walking tours and classes in ceramics, jewelry making, woodworking, dance and voice.
Thomas Cole was a painter, poet and essayist who in the early 19th century became the leader of an informal alliance of landscape artists known as the Hudson River School. His home and studio can be toured at the Thomas Cole House in Catskill. Visitors can also view a film about his art, and walk the gardens and trails that served as inspiration for his work.
Bethel Woods at Woodstock National Heritage Site
Byrdcliffe Art Colony
Thomas Cole House
Find other exciting attractions in the Catskill region.
The nation’s largest and oldest state museum, the New York State Museum in Albany hosts more than 600,000 visitors annually, making it one of the largest cultural and natural history attractions in New York State. Its myriad of exhibits brings the past to life, for example with life-size dioramas recreating moments and communities from New York’s history, including Harlem in the 1920, the Tuck High Chinatown shop, a 1930s West side Barber shop and even a visit to Sesame Street!
Founded in 1791 during the presidency of George Washington, making it older than the Louvre, the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Albany Institute of History and Art in Albany is dedicated to collecting, preserving, interpreting and promoting interest in the history, art and culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson River Valley Region. Its art exhibitions display sculpture, paintings and glasswork, and its history exhibits tell the story of traders and colonial Albany.
Albany Institute of History and Art
New York State Museum
Find other exciting attractions in the Capital-Saratoga region.
In 2012, the Hyde Collection Art Museum in Glens Falls celebrated 100 years as a public museum. This historic Italianate Renaissance villa and art museum complex combine Adirondack heritage with a distinguished permanent collection of European old and modern masters, American artists, decorative arts and antique furnishings.
Hyde Collection Art Museum
Find other exciting attractions in the Adirondacks region.
The Frederick Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg is home to the world's largest collection of the art and archival materials of Frederick Remington, America's great artist of the Old West. Exhibits display the artist’s original paintings, drawings, sculptures, correspondence and personal possessions. A separate children's museum allows families to enjoy western-themed educational activities.
Frederick Remington Art Museum
Find other exciting attractions in the Thousand Islands-Seaway region.
Central New York:
Created by the founder and first president of the Beech-Nut packing company, the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie houses a nationally known collection of 350 paintings and sculpture by American artists including Homer, Hopper, Whistler, Wyeth, O’Keeffe, Remington and others. The Arkell also features Mohawk Valley history and the Beech-Nut archives of early 20th century advertising material.
The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown is the showcase of the New York State Historical Association. It is home to an exceptionally rich collection of American folk art and American Indian art, as well as important holdings in American decorative arts, photography and 20th century art. Formal gardens overlook Otsego Lake, and visitors can get a glimpse of American Indian life at the circa 1750 Bark House on the shores of the lake.
The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica is an internationally recognized fine arts center, with an art museum, performing arts center and art school and college, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013. The museum spans two historic buildings – a modern 1960 structure designed by Philip Johnson, and a restored 1850 Italianate mansion – and features 20 galleries of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and decorative arts including furniture, silver, ceramics, glass, textiles and watches, and works by Cole, Dali, Kandinsky, Mondrian, O’Keefe, Picasso, Pollock, Rothenberg, Stella, Tiffany and Whistler.
Fenimore Art Museum
Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
Find other exciting attractions in the Central New York region.
Housed in a building designed by internationally renowned architect I.M. Pei, the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse was originally founded in 1897 as the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, the first U.S. museum dedicated to exclusively collecting American art. The permanent collection includes paintings, sculpture, ceramics, drawings and graphics that date from Colonial times to the present, and include many fine examples of Central New York arts and crafts artifacts.
Housed in its original 1833 showcase with a grand late-20th century gallery addition, the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira has an internationally recognized collection of 17th to 19th century European paintings and 19th and 20th century American art. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions highlighting various aspects of its collections and includes works from around the world.
Between 1871 and 1889 Mark Twain and his family spent their summers at Quarry Farm in Elmira. For many summers, Twain spent his days writing in his octagonal study built in 1874. It was where he worked on "Tom Sawyer," "Huckleberry Finn," "The Prince and the Pauper" and other notable works. Today, visitors can visit the Mark Twain Study on the campus of Elmira College, as well as other Twain sites around town, including his gravesite at Woodlawn Cemetery, itself listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The best of American Western and Native American art are preserved and interpreted at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning. Ten galleries focus on topics like cowboys, visions of the west, buffalo and Native Americans with paintings, sculptures and more.
At the Hill Cumorah Visitor Center and Historic Sites in Palmyra, visitors can learn about Joseph Smith, publisher of the Book of Mormon, and see the surrounding sites involved in the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Arnot Art Museum
Everson Museum of Art
Hill Cumorah Visitor Center and Historic Sites
Mark Twain Study
Rockwell Museum of Western Art
Find other exciting attractions in the Finger Lakes region.
In the early 1900s, the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora was at the vanguard of the uniquely American "Arts and Crafts" style, a decorative arts movement that emphasizes a hand crafted simplicity of design. The Roycroft “guild” practices live on at this designated National Historic Landmark complex, where visitors can stay at the beautifully restored Roycroft Inn, join classes and demonstrations, shop the gallery or take an educational outdoor tour among nine original structures like the inn, chapel, print shop, furniture shop and copper shop.
The Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna is a national shrine built in the early 20th century that attracts thousands of visitors from across the globe every year. Guided tours highlight the Basilica’s hundreds of paintings, sculptures and mosaics, and a museum describes the multiple charitable works of its founder, Father Nelson Baker.
The work of master architect Frank Lloyd Wright can be seen throughout western New York. Wright designed the Darwin Martin House State Historic Site residential complex in Buffalo, built between 1903 - 1905 and considered to be one of the most important projects from his Prairie School era, and one of his greatest works overall. The lakeside Wright-designed Graycliff estate in nearby Derby was built between 1926 - 1929 as a complex of three buildings set amid eight and a half acres of rolling lawns and gardens also designed by Wright. Finally, the Pierce- Arrow Buffalo Transportation Museum houses a recreation of a Wright-designed filling station dating from the 1920s.
The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy — operators of the Albright-Knox Arts Gallery in Buffalo -- was founded in December 1862, ranking it among the country's oldest public arts institutions in the United States. Today, the gallery is an outstanding center of modern and contemporary art presenting one of the world's top international surveys of 20th century painting and sculpture.
The Colored Musician Club Museum in Buffalo highlights the history of the oldest continuously run African American musicians Club in the US, dating back to 1935. Its interactive exhibits share the stories of jazz legends who performed there – from Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie, Billie holiday and Ella Fitzgerald – and the legacy they left behind.
Albright-Knox Arts Gallery
Colored Musician Club Museum
Darwin Martin House State Historic Site
Our Lady of Victory Basilica
Pierce- Arrow Buffalo Transportation Museum
Find other exciting attractions in the Greater Niagara region.
New York’s Amish Trail in western New York allows visitors to experience the traditional living culture of this Old Order Amish Community through its farm and handcrafted products for sale at a variety of small shops. There are also museums and restaurants to be explored and enjoyed. Guided tours are available.
The largest sculpture park in North America with 250 sculptures on 450 acres, the Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto features a variety of natural habitats including forests, ponds, wetlands and alpine meadows. Displays by local, national and international artists promote interaction with art to provide a unique cultural experience.
Lucy, you’re home! The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center in Jamestown, Lucy’s hometown, celebrates the historic legacy of the First Couple of Comedy with memorabilia, awards, video and photographs from their lives and film and television work. There are even costumes and complete recreations of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s New York City apartment, their Hollywood hotel suite and an interactive Vitamatavegamin set.
Started by Free Thinkers from Laona, NY, the Lily Dale Assembly grew from a tent city to what is now proclaimed to be the world’s largest center for spiritualism. Susan B. Anthony graced its stages early in her career, and notables like Arthur Conan Doyle and Mae West were known to visit as well. An 1890 one-room school house in Lilydale is now home to the Lily Dale Museum, featuring a women’s suffrage display as well as photos, artifacts and memorabilia from the founding of Lily Dale and first days of the Spiritualist movement.
The Chautauqua Institution’s lakeside Victorian village in Chautauqua is a National Historic Landmark offering activities like golf, tennis, sailing, biking and winter sleigh rides. Summer visitors also get to participate in the nine-week music and cultural festival which over the last 138 years has provided programs to millions of visitors like concerts, theater, lectures/discussions and special classes.
Chautauqua Institution’s Victorian village
Griffis Sculpture Park
Lily Dale Museum
Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center
Find other exciting attractions in the Chautauqua-Alleghany region.
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