Though the Upper West Side and Harlem may not be renowned for their booming art scenes, that doesn’t mean that art doesn’t exist this far uptown. Dozens of independent art galleries are scattered up and down the UWS and throughout Harlem—it’s just a matter of finding them. We’ve done the dirty work for you and have found some of the best galleries in the neighborhood so you can take a break from studying for your ArtHum finals and actually go see the kind of thing you’re learning about.
18 W 86th St, New York, NY 10024
A unique space found in Bard College’s city campus for select MA and Ph.D programs, the Bard Graduate Gallery may be small, but it never disappoints. The gallery is known for exhibitions pertaining to the decorative arts (a vague yet intriguing descriptor), design history, and material culture, according to the Gallery website. Currently on display is an exhibit titled Fabricating Power with Balinese Textiles, which features a space in which visitors have the chance to work with textiles and interact with resident artists. If you’re the type of person who would rather experience a more hands-on approach to studying art, the Bard Graduate Center Gallery is perfect for you.
50 W 86th St, New York, NY 10024
A small but impressive contemporary art gallery, Gallery 52 has become a staple of the Upper West Side’s art scene. The beautifully intricate exterior of the gallery gives way to stark white walls upon entering, where dozens of pieces from artists around the world hang. You can never really know exactly what to expect with contemporary art, but Gallery 52 is always fascinating.
2037 5th Ave, New York, NY 10035
Another of the Upper West Side’s foremost contemporary art galleries is Elizabeth Dee Gallery, which has been lauded by the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and Time Out NYC— to name a few of the the gallery’s credentials. The gallery houses bold, immersive contemporary art from New York and global artists alike, with the exhibition changing routinely—that way, there will always be something new to see.
2073 7th Ave, New York, NY 10027
Long Gallery Harlem is known for its contemporary art exhibitions from some of the world’s foremost artists of African descent. The gallery plays an enormous role in shining a light on underrepresented artists. As Harlem is one of New York’s cruxes of creativity, art, and design, exploring this neighborhood so immersed in creative history is vital for every New Yorker.