New York City hosts some of the best art museums and galleries in the world—so why leave? Because it smells. And it's hot. Or it's cold. And it's crowded. The good news is, it's fairly easy to escape New York for literal greener pastures, even if you don't have a car. Take the Metro North train from Grand Central Station, or take the Amtrak (the Adirondack line) from Penn Station. (Depending on where you're hoping to end up, you'll likely have to get a rideshare or take a bus for a few minutes after you get off the rail.)
So, whether you're looking for an excuse to get out of the city, or you're already planning on taking the trek and want to check out the thriving art scene while you're up there, check out this list of the best, most worthwhile art destinations along the Hudson Valley. (In order of closest to New York City, to farthest north.)
JDJ | The Ice House
Garrison, New York
Located in Garrison, New York, The Ice House is a former industrial building built in the 1920s and set within a compound of structures once occupied by the staff and laborers who maintained an estate on the Hudson River. (It was later renovated in the ‘70s by Brutalist architect Edward Knowles.) The gallery, which opened just opened in December of 2018, is programmed by Jayne Drost Johnson, who’s previously held positions like director of Peter Freeman Inc., associate director of Lehman Maupin gallery, founding co-director of Independent Art Fair, and director of now-defunct gallery Elizabeth Dee. On view until September 2 is a group show called “HOME/WORK” with works by Irina Arnaut, Barnett Cohen, Hein Koh, Lucia Love, Anna Plesset, Emily Mae Smith, and Nick van Woert. The gallery is open by appointment only.
Magazzino Italian Art Foundation
Cold Spring, New York
Built in 2017 by Spanish architect Miguel Quismondo, the 20,000-square-foot Magazzino Italian Art Museum incorporated a pre-existing industrial warehouse. (Magazzino is Italian for “warehouse.”) Collectors Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu are behind the project, and it seems they spared no expense in building it; marble and steel abound. The Cold Springs museum exhibits primarily Arte Povera (for more on that movement, see here). See works by artists like Giovanni Anselmo, Marisa Merz, and Giuseppe Penone next time you're in the area; the exhibition is ongoing.
Storm King Art Center
New Windsor, New York
If you’re looking for something that’s halfway between a grueling hike and a stroll through Chelsea, Storm King is what you’re looking for. Meander through the sprawling property (500 acres!) peppered with outdoor sculptures by the likes of Lynda Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Andy Goldsworthy, Louise Nevelson, and many more. In addition to the more than 100 permanent sculptures on view, you’ll find outdoor exhibitions by Jean Shin (“Overlooks,” closing November 24) and Mark Dion (“Follies,” closing November 11.)
Dia:Beacon is the go-to day trip for art lovers; if you haven’t been yet, put it on the top of your list. (Unlike most of the other spots on this list, though, DIA Beacon does cost money—$15 for general admission.) The vast museum is home to some of the most important works of American Minimalist art, with room to breath. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, the expansive building is lit by natural light—so be sure to go during daylight. Visit the museum before September 9th to see “Charlotte Posenenske: Work in Progress,” the first North American retrospective dedicated to the German artist.
The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College
Poughkeepsie, New York
Located on the beautiful campus of Vassar College, the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center isn’t limited to exhibiting contemporary art, and they’ve hosted a range of heavy-hitting artists from antiquity through today (last year they staged three major exhibitions: one on sketches from the 1770s to 1890s; one on Northern European art from 1500-1700; and one on the celebrity-focused work of Andy Warhol.) On view now (until September 8) is “An Era of Opportunity: Three Decades of Acquisitions,” which, of course, showcases a range of works from the museum’s permanent collection.
The Hessel Museum of Art at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College
Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Inaugurated in 2006, the 17,000-sqaure-foot Hessel Museum is named after collector Marieluise Hessel, who donated over 1,700 contemporary works of art to the museum, which hosts rotating exhibitions curated by students in the Curatorial Studies program, as well as major exhibitions where you can sometimes have the rare opportunity to see emerging artists flexing in large, professional galleries for the first time in their careers. On view now is one such exhibition, featuring the work of emerging artist Leidy Churchman (curated by Lauren Cornell, director of the graduate program and chief curator at CCS Bard). Also on view is a solo shows by Nil Yalter, an Egyptian-born pioneer of socially engaged art, and “Acting Out: Works from the Marieluise Hessel Collection.”
Kinderhook, New York
The project of dealer Jack Shainman, who has two galleries in Chelsea, The School, as the name suggests, occupies a former elementary school. No, not a quant little school house—but a massive, 30,000-square-foot building, built in 1929. Now in it’s fifth year, The School is presenting “Basquiat x Warhol,” “an extensive examination of the compelling, albeit complex relationship between two master artists during the final years of their lives.” The School is open Saturdays from 11am to 6pm.
Hudson, New York
Founded in 2016 by Kirsten Dodge (of former Lower East Side gallery DODGE), SEPTEMBER Gallery bills itself as "an evolving platform for artists of diverse disciplines" including "performers, academics, activists, chefs, curators, writers, and other creative thinkers, makers and doers." Though they don't mention it outright, the gallery appears to only feature women artists—over 200 since they opened three years ago. On view until August 4 is a group show organized around the color yellow. Each of the 14 artists included in the exhibition work with the color "in subtle or startling ways." The gallery is open from Friday to Sunday (11 to 6) and by appointment.