From the Met to MoMA, New York has some of the best museums in the world. But the experience often comes with long admission lines and an equally frustrating dance to catch a glimpse of the art amidst massive crowds.
Opt for one of the city’s hundreds of smaller galleries for a more intimate (and free) experience. Here are a handful of the best situated in the art-saturated locale of Chelsea.
Tucked away in an unassuming building, this intimate gallery primarily showcases just one artist at a time. Their latest exhibit “Invocations of the Soul” features the largest collection of Uruguayan sculptor Pablo Atchugarry to be seen in the US. The bronze and marble sculptures are deceptively simple with striking lines that transfix your gaze. A lack of windows makes it easy for time to slip by here.
521 W 26th St 7th floor
This expansive gallery doubled its size in 2006 to 10,000 sq. feet giving it ample space to hold large scale works by artists like Olafur Eliasson, who took the city by storm with his “New York City Waterfalls” public art project in 2008.
521 West 21st Street
Mitchell-Innes and Nash
Named after its owners, a couple who formerly worked at the storied auction house Sotheby’s, this sky-lit space hosts a wide range of contemporary artists in shows that change roughly every month. They just finished a show of late pop artist Tom Wesselmann and are turning the gallery over to The Temporary Office of Urban Disturbance for a show on gentrification titled “If You Can’t Afford to Live Here, Mo-o-ove!” (June 7 – July 9).
534 W 26th St
1018 Madison Ave
Around the corner from a major entrance to the Highline, it’s easy to wander into this cozy space, which has a more welcoming vibe than some of its more austere neighbors. It’s not uncommon to spot work by Andy Warhol and Keith Harring alongside newer artists like Shepard Fairey, who’s best known for his Obama “Hope” poster.
231 10th Ave
This gallery made its name exhibiting next wave pop art artists like photographer David LaChapelle. Their current exhibits include Bali-born painter Nyoman Masriadi who conjures warrior images and cartoon scene panels with eye-catching colors and a vibrant sense of drama. With three separate spaces, there’s a lot to explore.
293 10th Ave
297 10th Ave
515 W 27th St
With 30,000 sq feet and a gallery in London, this gallery has no shortage of space. Recent exhibits include the late German painter and photograher Sigmar Polke who received a comprehensive retrospective at MoMA in 2014.
525 W 19th St
533 W 19th St
537 W 20th St
One of the newest additions to the art scene, this gallery opened in 2015. Their current mixed media show, Motohiko Odani: Depth of the Body, marks the artist’s first show outside of Asia.
515 W 26th St