Culture + Style

Beyond Broadway: Unearthing Unexpected Arts and Culture in Midtown Manhattan

Even if you didn’t quite manage to snag those elusive “Hamilton” tickets, Midtown Manhattan still boasts an incredible array of cultural attractions that extend beyond Broadway.

With cutting-edge galleries featuring works by big-name sculptors and painters, this area serves as a de facto hub for movers and shakers in the global art world.

The design-focused AC Hotel New York Times Square plays homage to its vibrant surroundings with a thoughtfully chosen collection of works by a mix of internationally renowned and up-and-coming local artists.

midtown manhattan attractions
Guests can enjoy art in all its mediums at the AC Hotel New York Times Square. (Photo: Courtesy of AC Hotel New York Times Square)

When visitors aren’t exploring Midtown gems, they can experience impactful installations everywhere, from the lobby and public spaces to guestrooms. The works range from sculptures by the renowned Steve Zolin, Bob Madden and Sarah West; to abstract paintings by U.K.-based artists Sam Smyth and Vesna Milinkovic, and photography by New York’s Richard Silver.

Once you set foot in the neighborhood, be sure to check out these essential art experiences.

The Morgan Library & Museum

Founded by Pierpont Morgan, the Morgan Library & Museum is an exceptional repository of prints, drawings, paintings, historical artifacts and rare manuscripts housed in a lavishly decorated space.

Though visitors can still view the architectural flourishes of the original 1906 building designed by Charles McKim, a 2006 expansion by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop injected a much-needed touch of modernity.

The Museum of Modern Art

midtown manhattan attractions
Get your modern art fix at one of the world’s top museums, the MoMA. (Photo: Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Manhattan sports an extraordinary number of world-class museums, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) undoubtedly deserves a place on every traveler’s must-see list.

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, the wife of John D. Rockefeller Jr., conceived the concept of the museum with two of her high-society friends in the 1920s. Since then, the MoMA has grown to house one of the most influential collections in the world. Constantly rotating exhibitions means that there’s always something new to see here.

The New York Public Library

After you’ve spent a few hours admiring the exhibitions at MoMA, head across 53rd Street to the spectacular 30,000-square-foot branch of the New York Public Library. As one might imagine, the place is a treasure trove for bibliophiles, but the space’s innovative, open-plan design is almost as intriguing as the tomes contained within.

When conceptualizing the building, TEN Arquitectos opted to create a light-filled, contemporary space that could serve as a hub for the local community. Rotating installations by prominent artists on the walls — framed by a clear façade — make the airy interior feel more like a gallery rather than an old-fashioned library.

Marian Goodman Gallery

Since the 1970s, Goodman and her eponymous establishment have served as vanguards for some of the world’s most significant conceptual art.

Although the Marian Goodman Gallery tends to favor ambitious works by European players like Maurizio Cattelan, you could just as easily stumble upon an exhibition by American artist John Baldessari here.

Christie’s New York

midtown manhattan attractions
Take a peek at the museum-worthy goods housed at Christie’s. (Photo: Getty Images)

Established in 1766, Christie’s remains one of the world’s top auction houses and rests at the epicenter of the art world. Decked out in bronze and limestone, the building’s grand facade conveys an unmistakable air of opulence.

Even if you’re not planning to make a multimillion-dollar purchase for your private stash, it’s worth visiting the special exhibition gallery in Rockefeller Plaza, which showcases typically museum-worthy items from upcoming sales.

Pace Primitive

Wandering through the beautifully displayed exhibitions at this branch of the prestigious Pace Gallery always feels more like a trip to an expertly curated museum than a private gallery.

Pace Primitive places the spotlight on tribal art from around the globe. Gaze at rare Native American, Oceanic, Pre-Columbian and African artifacts; then check out works by contemporary artists inspired by these ancient traditions.

Mary Boone Gallery

Blockbuster international artists like Ai Weiwei have long showcased their work at this boundary-pushing space on Fifth Avenue. While the Mary Boone Gallery has always attracted established creatives from the upper echelons of the avant-garde world, its curators have an eye for rising talent, as well. In the 1980s, Mary Boone made a name for herself by helping launch the careers of artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Julian Schnabel at her gallery’s original Soho location.

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