The 5 best cities around the world for art lovers

There’s nothing like big names, top fairs and groundbreaking galleries to attract art lovers to a city. Here, we give you the essentials on the world’s best art hubs.

Miami, USA

A stylish playground of art deco hotels, bright nightclubs and miles of pristine beaches, the “Magic City” also plays home to a thrilling art scene. World-famous fairs accompany highly acclaimed hotspots, including the Pérez Art Museum, the newly opened Institute of Contemporary Art and the Bass Museum, fresh from a US$12 million renovation.

Bold street art lines the Wynwood neighborhood—keep an eye out for Interesni Kazki’s Green House on 29th Street and NW 2nd Avenue. The private collections are also great. Laura Randall of the Rubell Family Collection, one of the leading collections of contemporary art, says, “There’s real opportunity for growth. As a city that celebrates contemporary art, the cultural spaces have the flexibility to try new things and are never static.” This means that new art scenes are popping up—the big excitement is Brickell Key, a man-made island off the mainland Brickell neighborhood, where the Metrorail is being transformed into an art-filled park akin to New York’s High Line.

Where to stay: Conrad Miami

The Rubell Family Collection, Miami

The Rubell Family Collection, Miami

London, UK

“It’s the huge diversity that sets London apart and makes it so exciting,” says Frances Christie, Senior Director of Modern Art & Post-War Modern Art at Sotheby’s. Indeed, all the classics are here (visit the Royal Academy, National Gallery and Tate Britain) but so is the boundary-pushing contemporary—celebrated by Frieze art fair every October.

Conrad London St. James is an integral part of the scene. Voted “Best Art Hotel” in 2017 at the World Luxury Hotel Awards, the property is a living gallery. Every wall tells  a story with one-off pieces, inspired by politics and the hotel’s setting. Look out for Chris Levine’s iconic portrait of The Queen and Tom Clark’s bronze statue The Ladder to Bronze.

The city’s smaller hotspots pack an equal punch including Mayfair’s Ronchini Gallery and the pioneering Saatchi. If you like street art, you’ll find Banksy pieces around the city—don’t miss his graffiti-covered tunnel in Waterloo, south of the Thames. But, most importantly, keep your eyes peeled for dazzling public sculpture: the Albert Memorial by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Kensington Gardens is not to be missed.

Where to stay: Conrad London St. James

Ronchini Gallery

Ronchini Gallery

Dublin, Ireland

The Irish capital is known for its heavyweight literature and drama, but that’s only half the story. In recent years, an exciting contemporary art scene has emerged. The ancient is still here (the Book of Kells in Trinity College is a must-see), however the new is pushing through, too.

Georgian houses play host to cutting-edge galleries, design collectives are filling vacant warehouses, and slick innovative spaces are opening up. Fledglings—such as Bono’s niece, Leah Hewson, and muralist James Earley—have the opportunity to make their mark (spot their work at The LAB Gallery). As art dealer Kevin Kavanagh says, “Dublin’s rocking at the moment.” Big names like Picasso and major homegrown talents including Caroline McCarthy can still be found at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the newly relaunched National Gallery of Ireland.

Where to stay: Conrad Dublin

Courtyard at National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Courtyard at National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

Indianapolis, USA

Whether it’s because of the huge collection of public artworks, the opening of five new galleries, or the Long-Sharp Gallery, located inside Conrad Indianapolis, being named one of the top “500 best galleries in the world” by Modern Painters magazine, the fact is Indianapolis’ art scene is good. Very good.

Long-Sharp Gallery has the modern masters all covered—Picasso, Miro, Warhol and Lichtenstein—plus the more recent such as Lobyn Hamilton, who makes art out of broken  vinyl records. There’s also a curatorial program, Art Stays Here, and guided tours with “Art Ambassadors.” For pop art fans, the original LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana can be enjoyed at  The Indianapolis Museum of Art.

However, the best thing to do is cycle the eight-mile urban Cultural Trail, past US$26 million-worth of commissioned artworks including huge installations, murals, and painted manhole covers, bus stops and electricity boxes. So, what’s next? According to Indy journalist Lou Harry, the one to watch is nonprofit art and design organization Big Car Collaborative, which is doing “innovative work” in Garfield Park with plans for the area to become the city’s next arts village. Forthcoming projects include a pop-up art fair, a radio station, housing for artists, and a new cultural center with an exhibition area.

Where to stay: Conrad Indianapolis

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

New York, USA

You want it. New York has it. The art fairs are endless—The Armory, NADA, Volta, Spring Break, Collective Design—with new ones popping up, including the Upstairs Art Fair in the Hamptons on Long Island. Manhattan’s “Museum Mile” boasts some of the world’s finest, including the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art for world-famous pieces like Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Then there’s a slew of smaller spots including the Frick Collection, housed in an 18th-century French-style mansion.

Conrad New York shows ongoing exhibitions alongside works by post-World War II masters and contemporary artists. This includes Sol LeWitt’s dramatic blue and purple painting, Loopy Doopy, which soars 13 stories high through the atrium, and a mural by LA street artist Morley on the 16th floor.

Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s art scene, where most of the city’s artists live, is exploding. Gallery owner Alexander Johns says: “People come expecting to be entertained.  They come to see artists they don’t know.”

Where to stay: Conrad New York


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