As vaccines are distributed and the world begins to reopen, art enthusiasts are making plans to get back into museums. While nobody is surprised to hear that New York City is jam-packed with fascinating art museums, one might be excited to discover this fresh list of underrated art museums in the city. Whether they’ve fully reopened with strict COVID-19 guidelines in place or are keeping audiences posted—these underrated art museums deserve a spot on your post-pandemic travel list.
Street view of the Neue Gallerie building.
Neue Galerie New York, though still closed until further notice, boasts a fascinating collection of Austrian and German art from the early twentieth century. The most famous piece in the collection is Gustav Klimt's Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I who modeled for another iconic piece, Judith. The building, completed in 1914 and designed by the architects of the New York Library, is a designated landmark and located on Museum Mile.
Street view of William D. Walsh Family Library which also hosts the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Art.
Since 2007, the Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Art has been open to the public. Housed within Fordham University’s William D. Walsh Family Library, the museum’s collection hosts nearly 300 objects dating from the fourth millennium B.C. through the third century A.D. Visitors must present a photo id to campus officials to enter.
Street view of The Bronx Museum.
The Bronx Museum is a contemporary art space with a special dedication to highlighting the people of—and communities with ties to—the Bronx. Its exhibits tend to focus on social action, intersectionality, and visibility. Deeply steeped in the community, a particularly exciting exhibition currently on view entitled What We Call Home is a curated sample of the museum's permanent collection, assembled by the Bronx Museum's Teen Council.
Installation view of ESTAMOS BIEN – LA TRIENAL 20/21 at El Museo del Barrio, New York.
El Museo del Barrio (El Museo) opened in 1969 and is a founding member of Fifth Avenue’s Museum Mile. Though it originally specialized in Puerto Rican art and culture, it has since expanded to include Caribbean, Latinx, and Latin American artwork and cultural items. The exhibition Estamos Bien—La Trienal 20/21 is the museum’s first national large-scale survey of Latinx contemporary art. There are online and in-person features.
Laura Aguilar, Three Eagles Flying, 1990. Three gelatin silver prints, 24 x 20 inches each.
The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, a space dedicated to art that investigates queerness and gender, is currently open and strictly enforcing social distancing. As such, the Museum suggests visiting via the reserve of a timed ticket. Tickets are free, a ten-dollar donation is suggested. Running through June 27, Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell is the first comprehensive retrospective of the photographer, featuring more than seventy works.
Yuko Nii in the gallery space of the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center.
The Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (The WAH Center) is free to visit and was founded in 1996 to serve as a “bridge” between artists of all backgrounds. The building it operates in was a bank built-in 1867. The WAH Center’s founder Yuko Nii chose this stellar example of French Second Empire architecture to preserve it and because of the flourishing arts community, it was surrounded by.
The Audubon Terrace, shared between The Academy of Arts and Letters and The Hispanic Society of America.
Typically, The American Academy of Arts and Letters hosts two exhibitions each spring. Though the Academy’s honor society features a vast range of the country’s leading creatives, the yearly exhibitions typically feature work by newly inducted fine artists and works from individuals nominated by the Academy members. Though this year’s has officially been relegated to the virtual space, this exhibition should certainly be added to your visitation list for 2022.
The Gardens of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center
The Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art is located within Snug Harbor's Cultural Center and Botanical Gardens. The site plans to reopen in late April 2021 with capacity limits on gallery spaces and masks required. Located in Staten Island, this site is off the beaten path for many art lovers, but worth the trip this spring for anyone eager to support the often sidelined queer community of Staten Island in the exhibition Zoë Tirado: Ghoulfriends.
Anna Claire Mauney is the former managing editor for Art & Object. A writer and artist living in North Carolina, she is interested in illustration, the 18th-century, and viceregal South America. She is also the co-host of An Obsessive Nature, a podcast about writing and pop culture.