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37 Art Centers Every Hudson Valleyite Should Visit

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Empire State Plaza
Photo courtesy of Discover Albany

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.

– Albany –

Albany Institute of History & Art

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.

Albany; www.albanyinstitute.org

Empire State Plaza Art Collection

First envisioned by former Gov. 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.” Nearly 100 abstract expressionist pieces are permanently displayed throughout the sprawling Plaza.

Albany; www.empirestateplaza.ny.gov/art

New York State Museum

The art, history, and natural science of the Empire State are the focus of the museum’s 100,000 sq. ft. 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.

Albany; nysm.nysed.gov

University Art Museum, University at Albany

This SUNY museum contains more than 3,000 objects including paintings, prints, and drawings, as well as photographs and sculptures by prominent 20th and 21st century artists. Its three galleries provide more than 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space for several changing exhibitions each year.

Albany; albany.edu/university-art-museum

– Columbia –

Art Omi Sculpture & Architecture Park

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 sculpture, the center offers art workshops for kids and grownups, exhibits and lectures, and residency programs for painters, sculptors, and other creative types.

Ghent; www.artomi.org

Kaaterskill Art Gallery, Columbia-Greene Community College

One of five art hubs on the college’s campus, the Kaaterskill Art Gallery offers rotating exhibitions showcasing diverse styles of painting, drawing, and other mediums. All of the school’s art spaces feature creations by its students — and regional artists often display their work here, too.

Hudson; www.sunycgcc.edu

Olana State Historic Site

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.

Hudson; Olana.org

Photo courtesy of The School

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 sq. ft. 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.

Kinderhook; www.jackshainman.com/the_school

– Dutchess –

Arts Mid-Hudson

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.

Poughkeepsie; www.artsmidhudson.org

Barrett Art Center

Located in a landmark historic house that’s been repurposed into a vibrant arts hub, the center displays work by regional artists, as well as exhibits of contemporary art from around the world. Its additional focus: educational programs and art classes, plus collaborations with other local nonprofits.

Poughkeepsie; www.barrettartcenter.org

Dia 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.

Beacon; www.diaart.org

Photo courtesy of Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center

Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College

This 36,000 sq. ft. 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.

Poughkeepsie; fllac.vassar.edu

Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College

The school’s Hessel Collection boasts more than 3,000 artworks from the 1960s to the present. Paintings, drawings, sculptures, and video installations by more than 400 well-known artists are on display.

Annandale-on-Hudson; ccs.bard.edu/museum

Mildred I. Washington Art Gallery, Dutchess Community College

See works created by Valley artists and students from the college, and view creations of national and international artists in a multitude of styles.

Poughkeepsie: www.sunydutchess.edu/aboutdcc/ourcampus/washingtonartgallery/index.html

– Greene –

Athens Cultural Center

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.

Athens; athensculturalcenter.org

Photo by Peter Aaron

Thomas Cole National Historic Site

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.

Catskill; thomascole.org

– Orange –

Orange Hall Gallery, SUNY Orange

A dual-level exhibition space for paintings, drawings, multimedia, and sculpture by college students, faculty, and Valley artists. Exhibits change throughout the school year; the gallery also hosts the popular annual North East Watercolor Society members’ show.

Middletown; www.sunyorange.edu/culturalaffairs

Photo by Dennis Oppenheim

Storm King Art Center

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.

New Windsor; www.stormking.org

Wallkill River School of Art & Gallery

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.

Montgomery; wallkillriverschool.com

– Putnam –

Photo by Montse Zamorano

Magazzino Italian Art

A nonprofit museum and research center that highlights postwar and contemporary Italian art, it’s housed in a 20,000 sq. ft. 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. Reservations are required to visit the museum.

Cold Spring; www.magazzino.art

Manitoga

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.

Garrison; www.visitmanitoga.org

– Rensselaer –

Photo courtesy of Discover Albany

Crailo State Historic Site

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.

Rensselaer; www.parks.ny.gov/historic-sites/crailo/details.aspx

Hart Cluett Museum

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 also take a guided tour of the adjacent 1827 Hart-Cluett House, noted on the National Register of Historic Places.

Troy; www.hartcluett.org

– Rockland –

Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center

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, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2021.

Nyack; www.edwardhopperhouse.org

Photo courtesy of Garner Arts Center

Garner Arts Center

Housed in a former 19th-century textile-mill complex, the Garner 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.

Garnerville; www.garnerartscenter.org

Rockland Center for the Arts

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.

West Nyack; www.rocklandartcenter.org

– Ulster –

Opus 40 Sculpture Park & Museum

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 50-acre grounds that consist of meadows, trails, and bluestone quarries.

Saugerties; www.opus40.org

Photo courtesy of Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz

Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2021, the Dorsky offers more than 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space spread over six galleries. Its collection includes paintings, drawings, sculpture, and other work spanning almost 4,000 years. The museum contains nearly 5,500 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.

New Paltz; www.newpaltz.edu/museum

Woodstock Artists Association & Museum

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.

Woodstock; www.woodstockart.org

The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild

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.

Woodstock; www.woodstockguild.org

– Westchester –

The Gordon Parks Foundation

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.

Pleasantville; www.gordonparksfoundation.org

Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden

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. The museum also features a lovely 7-acre oriental-style garden to explore.

North Salem; www.hammondmuseum.org

Hudson River Museum

This riverside museum in southern Westchester has everything under the stars — and beyond. It’s permanent collection and exhibitions showcases 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 Place. A state-of-the art planetarium has shows throughout the year (during normal times); and events and programming for all ages are plentiful.

Yonkers; www.hrm.org

Photo by Maksim Akelin

Hudson Valley MOCA

Nonprofit HVMOCA displays multimedia works by established and budding contemporary artists in its 12,000 sq. ft. 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.

Peekskill; www.hudsonvalleymoca.org

Jasper Cropsey Home and Studio

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 and is on the National Registry of Historic Houses. It has been maintained to reflect how it looked during Cropsey family’s time there and is furnished with selections of furniture from their former home, Aladdin, in Warwick. The Gallery of Art building, opened in 1994, houses the bulk of the paintings of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation’s collection.

Hastings-on-Hudson, www.newingtoncropsey.com

Katonah Museum of Art

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 10,000 sq. ft. building and adjoining sculpture garden, plus vibrant programs for more than 100 schools.

Katonah; www.katonahmuseum.org

Neuberger Museum of Art at SUNY 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. With a sprawling 25,000 sq. ft. of gallery space, it’s one of the ten largest university museums in the nation.

Purchase; www.neuberger.org