35 Art Centers Every Hudson Valleyite Should Visit

Love exploring art both new and old? Plan a day trip to one (or more) of the Hudson Valley's top art centers and museums.

Whether you’re a longtime Hudson Valley resident or a newcomer or visitor, chances are high that there’s a lot you haven’t seen in our region. Among those bucket list destinations are these magnificent art galleries, which tempt guests with an abundance of history and culture. So, regardless of whether you’re planning your first visit to the Albany Institute of History & Art or your fifth visit to Dia Beacon, here’s what you’ll need to know before you venture off to explore the world of art in the Hudson Valley.

Albany County

Albany Institute of History & Art

Albany

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Established in 1791, it’s one of the oldest museums in the nation. With a focus on the art, culture, and history of Albany and the upper Hudson Valley from the late 17th century onward, many objects in its collections were created or collected by families in the Capital Region or elsewhere in the state.

Empire State Plaza Art Collection

Albany

First envisioned by former Governor Nelson Rockefeller as an indoor/outdoor showcase for prominent artists working in New York State during the 1960s and ’70s, art historians have dubbed it “the greatest collection of modern American art in any single public site that is not a museum.”

New York State Museum

Albany

 

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The art, history, and natural science of the Empire State are the focus of the museum’s 100,000 square feet of exhibition space. Established in 1836, it’s distinguished as the oldest, largest state museum in the U.S. Top-rated collections include a vast selection of cultural artifacts and more than 16 million scientific specimens. The museum boasts ongoing exhibits such as “Birds of New York,” “Adirondack Wilderness,” and “Black Capital: Harlem in the 1920s.”

University Art Museum at University at Albany

Albany

This SUNY museum was designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, a modernist icon. Its collection includes paintings, prints, and drawings, as well as photographs and sculptures by prominent 20th- and 21st-century artists. Its galleries provide more than 9,000 square feet of exhibition space for several changing exhibitions each year. The permanent collection includes work by artists like Josef Albers, Vito Acconci, and Andy Warhol.

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Columbia County

Art Omi Sculpture & Architecture Park

Ghent

 

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Visitors can savor outdoor works of art while strolling through Art Omi’s scenic, 120-acre grounds. Along with a selection of intriguing, avant-garde sculptures, the center offers art workshops for kids and grown-ups, exhibits and lectures, and residency programs for painters, sculptors, and other creative types.

Olana State Historic Site

Hudson

One of the few intact artist’s estates in the nation, Olana was the home of Frederic Edwin Church, a key figure in the 19th-century Hudson River School of landscape painting. His uniquely designed villa is a National Historic Landmark, with examples of Church’s work throughout; it’s the centerpiece of Olana’s 250-acre landscaped grounds.

Jack Shainman Gallery: The School

Kinderhook

The School
Photo courtesy of The School

Housed in a former public school building, Manhattan gallery owner Jack Shainman’s vision resulted in the site’s transformation into a 30,000-square-foot exhibition space and cultural center. Large-scale works by noted American and international artists, plus up-and-coming creators, fill the expansive galleries. The School property includes five outdoor acres where sculptures and installations are also displayed.

Dutchess County

Arts Mid-Hudson

Poughkeepsie

All manner of cultural activities take place at this arts service organization. It features a gallery and presents workshops and numerous public events, along with providing technical services and advocacy for individuals and groups involved in the arts.

Dia Beacon

Beacon

This acclaimed museum of contemporary art, located in an enormous former Nabisco box factory, specializes in works reflecting late-20th-century art movements — from abstract expressionism to pop art. Permanent and temporary exhibits, lectures, cultural events, and educational programs are all part of Dia Beacon’s extensive slate of offerings. On the last Sunday of each month, Dia offers free entry for residents of the following counties: Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Sullivan, Ulster, Washington, and Westchester.

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center at Vassar College

Poughkeepsie

art centers in the hudson valley
Photo courtesy of Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

This 36,000-square-foot museum presents rotating shows by a variety of artists, as well as ongoing exhibits from its collection of more than 22,000 artworks that include drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, and photos. Its top-notch selection is comprised of old master prints, Hudson River School paintings, and creations by key international and American 20th-century artists.

Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College

Annandale-on-Hudson

 

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The school’s Hessel Collection boasts more than 3,000 artworks from the 1960s to the present with paintings, drawings, sculptures, and video installations by more than 500 artists. Exhibitions rotate frequently, so check online to see what’s currently on display.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum

Hyde Park

A presidential library isn’t quite the same as a traditional museum, but we’d be remiss not to mention this hub of art and history in Dutchess County. The museum exhibits an incredible range of artifacts and materials related to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as the social, diplomatic, and cultural life of the early 20th century.

Greene County

Athens Cultural Center

Athens

Housed in a renovated 19th-century building, the center offers solo and group art exhibitions. In addition, it presents video programs and cultural programming that includes arts workshops for kids and adults, along with performances and readings. In the summertime, be sure to check out the live music series.

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

Catskill

thomas cole national historic site
Photo by Peter Aaron

The home and studio of Thomas Cole, founder of the renowned 19th-century Hudson River School of American painting, has been painstakingly preserved and refurbished. Also known as Cedar Grove, it’s now a National Historic Landmark with trails, gardens, and gorgeous views of the landscapes that Cole cherished and depicted in numerous paintings.

Orange County

Orange Hall Gallery at SUNY Orange

Middletown

This is a dual-level exhibition space for paintings, drawings, multimedia, and sculpture by college students, faculty, and Valley artists. Exhibits change throughout the school year, and the Middletown Art Group 2024 Members Spring Exhibition is currently on display until June 26.

Storm King Art Center

New Windsor

art centers in the hudson valley
Photo by Dennis Oppenheim

Enjoy a taste of art “en plein air” at this world-renowned 500-acre outdoor museum. Large-scale sculptures and site-specific commissions are sprinkled throughout gorgeous scenery, and programs and exhibitions of smaller artworks are presented in the indoor gallery. Permanent exhibitions include work by artists like Louise Bourgeois, David Smith, Alexander Liberman, and Menashe Kadishman.

Wallkill River School of Art & Gallery

Montgomery

Situated in a stately brick historic building, this artists’ collective focuses on exhibitions by regional artists; its emphasis is on celebrating the beauty and variety of the Valley’s unique landscapes. The school offers classes for all ages, as well as resources and support for local artists.

Putnam County

Magazzino Italian Art

Cold Spring

magazzino italian art
Photo by Montse Zamorano

A nonprofit museum and research center that highlights postwar and contemporary Italian art, it’s housed in a 20,000-square-foot space that opened in 2017 (“magazzino” means “warehouse” in Italian). The center includes a research center and scholar-in-residence program, plus lectures and other cultural programs that are open to the public. This summer, the museum’s Cafe Silvia features a special culinary arts program on select Fridays.

The Russel Wright Design Center, or “Manitoga”

Garrison

The former home of American industrial designer Russel Wright, who died in 1976, Manitoga is a living museum of architecture. Its buildings and surrounding 75 acres, including a lovely woodland garden, are a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours and exhibitions, along with varied programs exploring design and architecture, draw visitors from near and far.

Rensselaer County

Crailo State Historic Site

Rensselaer

art centers in the hudson valley
Photo courtesy of Discover Albany

Built in the early 18th century and formerly part of an estate owned by Dutch settler Hendrick Van Rensselaer, Crailo now serves as a museum that’s chock-full of colonial New York history. Its offerings include archeological exhibits, community programs, and museum guided tours. The venue is open from May 15 to October 31.

Hart Cluett Museum

Troy

Run by the nonprofit educational group Historic Rensselaer County, art and exhibits exploring the region’s heritage comprise the core of this museum in the heart of the Second Street Historic District of downtown Troy. The three-building complex also contains a research library brimming with historical information about Rensselaer County. Visitors can take a guided tour of the adjacent 1827 Hart-Cluett House, noted on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rockland County

Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center

Nyack

Built in 1858 by a grandfather of noted American realist artist Edward Hopper, this Nyack residence was Hopper’s home until he was 28; he continued visiting family there until his death in 1967. A selection of Hopper’s early drawings, paintings, etchings, and personal memorabilia are on display at the museum. If you’re looking for even more Edward Hopper inspiration, the museum offers a “Hopper’s Nyack” walking tour, where one can see sites and scenes that influenced Hopper’s work.

Garner Arts Center

Garnerville

Garner arts center
Photo courtesy of Garner Arts Center

Housed in a former 19th-century textile mill complex, the Garner Arts Center promotes the creation and display of contemporary art in a multitude of styles. The center also features exhibitions, workshops, and community events, as well as studio space for hands-on creative exploration.

Rockland Center for the Arts

West Nyack

 

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This regional hub for the visual and performing arts was founded in 1947 by a group of renowned artists, including composer Aaron Copland and actress Helen Hayes. RoCA offers exhibitions, workshops, and a school for the arts, plus literary, dance, and theater events, day camps for kids, and community outreach programs. Its 10-acre grounds also include a sculpture park, which is free and open daily from dawn to dusk.

Ulster County

Opus 40 Sculpture Park & Museum

Saugerties

 

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The manifestation of sculptor, painter, and earth artist Harvey Fite’s personal vision, the nonprofit Opus 40 site features stone craft created by Fite, who died in 1976. He carved and stacked his unique creations throughout the 63-acre grounds that consist of meadows, trails, and bluestone quarries.

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz

New Paltz

art centers in the hudson valley
Photo courtesy of Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art

The Dorsky offers over 9,000 square feet of exhibit space spread over six galleries. Its collection includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, and other work spanning almost 4,000 years. The museum contains over 6,000 objects, such as Pre-Columbian artifacts, Asian art, 20th-century prints and paintings, decorative arts, and photos. Its American art collection emphasizes work centered on and created in the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

Woodstock Artists Association & Museum

Woodstock

 

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Dubbed “the local Louvre,” WAAM has been showing artwork in a variety of media since its launch in 1919. The nonprofit offers solo and group exhibits, as well as art programs for all ages. Its permanent collection totals more than 2,000 paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photos, and crafts. The main gallery hosts group exhibitions that rotate monthly. If you’re a creative, the museum regularly has open calls for anyone within a 50-mile radius of Woodstock to submit work.

The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild

Woodstock

This regional arts center presents art exhibits, classes, and workshops in crafts such as ceramics, weaving, and jewelry making. Based on a 250-acre mountainside campus, The Guild carries on the legacy of the renowned Byrdcliffe Arts Colony dating back to 1902. The Guild’s permanent collection features nearly 200 pieces of its signature arts-and-crafts-style furniture and decorative arts. Its Byrdcliffe Kleinert/James Center for the Arts in the village of Woodstock features a performance space, plus exhibitions of work by Hudson Valley, national, and international artists.

Westchester County

The Gordon Parks Foundation

Pleasantville

 

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This nonprofit is dedicated to preserving the work of noted Black photojournalist Gordon Parks, whose work is displayed in top museums, including the Smithsonian. The foundation makes the work of Parks, who died in 2006, available to the public through exhibitions, books, and archived photos that can be viewed online.

Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden

North Salem

Artwork from the museum’s collection is on display, as well as rotating shows by regional, national, and international artists merging East and West. Music, theater, and dance programs for all ages are also offered at the site, with an intention of sharing experiences of Eastern art and culture while fostering global unity. Additionally, the museum features a lovely seven-acre oriental-style garden to explore.

Hudson River Museum

Yonkers

This riverside museum in southern Westchester has everything under the stars — and beyond. Its permanent collection and exhibitions showcase American art from the 19th century to contemporary art. Gilded Age decorative arts can be viewed at Glenview, the historic home on the property that is on the National Register of Historic Places. A state-of-the art planetarium has shows throughout the year, and events and programming for all ages are plentiful. The permanent collection contains more than 18,000 objects, and the Glenview House was featured in HBO’s The Gilded Age.

Hudson Valley MOCA

Peekskill

Hudson Valley MOCA
Photo by Maksim Akelin

Nonprofit HVMOCA displays multimedia works by established and budding contemporary artists in its 12,000-square-foot exhibition space. Experimental projects and site-specific installations are also a focal point of the organization, with an emphasis on performances and programs that involve the community.

Jasper Cropsey Home and Studio

Hastings-on-Hudson

This historic home situated on a bluff overlooking the Palisades houses the work, writings, and papers of Jasper F. Cropsey, a Hudson River painter (1823–1900). The home, Ever Rest, is a Gothic Revival-style villa that is on the National Registry of Historic Houses. It has been maintained to reflect how it looked during Cropsey family’s time there. The Gallery of Art building, opened in 1994, houses the bulk of the paintings of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation’s collection.

Katonah Museum of Art

Katonah

With a focus on changing exhibitions — the museum’s founders opted to forgo a permanent collection — it mounts several shows each year that feature notable art reflecting multiple cultures. The KMA also presents lectures, workshops, and other events in its building and adjoining sculpture garden, plus vibrant programs for more than 100 schools.

Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY Purchase

Purchase

The museum’s permanent collection boasts more than 6,000 pieces of modern, contemporary, and African art in a building designed by noted architect Philip Johnson. The Neuberger also hosts wide-ranging special exhibitions, programs, and lectures. Moreover, the Neuberger Museum of Art is one of the 10 largest university museums in the nation.

Related: Your Guide to the Art Galleries of Hudson

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