Our expert panel rated the New York art experience as the best in the world for a combination of great galleries, public art and architecture. But what do you look for when you holiday in the world’s art capitals?
Viewing art is an essential part of the city break experience, right up there with sampling the local cuisine and shopping for souvenirs. Whether or not we’re art lovers back home, on holiday we’re culture vultures.
Visitor numbers to the world’s great galleries have seen a huge rise in recent years. No longer the dark, fusty preserve of academics, art venues have emerged in the 21st century as bright, airy purveyors of blockbuster exhibitions.
But our art experience is not just confined to the museums. In many of the world’s art capitals it’s difficult to move without tripping over a masterpiece – from the Renaissance artworks spilling from Italy’s churches, to the street art and graffiti of Berlin, and the public statues and monuments of Vienna.
New York giants
New York’s major galleries are certainly big. In the Met alone there are more than two million artworks on display, enough for several days’ viewing. And as with most US attractions, the visitor experience is excellent. But for me, it was too much for a single visit.
I can remember emerging exhausted from the Met after five hours of sensory overload, having barely visited half of the collection. The $25 entry fee would have offered good value, if only I had more stamina. Far more enjoyable for me was the smaller collection of J.P. Morgan Jnr, full of character with its eclectic objets d’art.
And while New York’s galleries do an excellent job of absorbing crowds, the same cannot be said for the larger art museums of Paris. The French capital missed out on a place in the top three art destinations due to unavoidable queues and congestion at the Louvre.
The art of the city
For me, there’s just something a little contrived about the modern gallery experience. I love the excitement and feeling of discovery when stumbling across a dusty candle-lit Caravaggio in a church in Rome, or seeing first-hand the political graffiti adorning the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall.
Do you enjoy the big gallery experience while on holiday? Or have you been put off by overpriced exhibitions or excessive queues?