Gallery guide | everything you need to know about the art galleries in Chelsea

Gallery guide | everything you need to know about the art galleries in Chelsea

The great discovery of our trip to New York was definitely this area. Next to the High Line, there is a group of around 10 parallel streets full of contemporary art galleries and you can’t miss it. There are constantly rotating exhibitions of great, upcoming artists that you can easily spend a whole day on.

I didn’t find that much about this neighborhood on the internet, so I wrote this post with the goal of providing you with a detailed guide of this area, and of course convincing you to go. I think that this is something you have to see while in New York, and certainly if you are going to do the High Line. Below you can find a map of the galleries I think are certainly worth visiting, as well as a few places to have a drink. I hope I answer all your questions in this post and if not, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!

Practical

Concept

Being located in the old port district of Chelsea, the neighborhood has a very spacious and industrial feel. You can sense that this neighborhood is upcoming, with a lot of newly renovated buildings, and a big part still being renovated. Every trendy gallery wants to be here, and any art lover should see it.

As a result, these streets contain A LOT of galleries, and you could easily spend a day here. I think that within a few years, you would have to come back to see everything or will have to skip a few if you want to see it in one day.

What impressed me the most, was the magnitude of the galleries. They are located in old warehouses of the port and are 5 to 10 times the size of a gallery here in Belgium. Most spaces have super high ceilings and you can still see the structure of the warehouses in some parts, which makes it even more interesting.

A big advantage of these galleries over museums is that they are all free. To enter a museum, you easily pay more than 10 dollars per person, sometimes 20. If you just want to see some art but nothing specific, this is a much cheaper option. You could do 3 to 4 museums in one day, so if you replace it with a day of seeing these galleries, you just saved 40-80 dollars!

Hours

Most of the galleries are open from Tuesday to Saturday, starting at 10h00 or 11h00 and closing around 18h00.

Some galleries also close on Saturday, so if you want to make the most of your trip to Chelsea, be sure to come on a weekday (not Monday) between 11h00 and 18h00.

location

The galleries are located at a region of parallel streets, West from the High Line. They start at 19th Street and go all the way until 29th Street, close to Hudson Yards.

Most options to have a drink or lunch are located just outside this region, East from the High Line or at Hudson Yards. Some of the few options inside the region are the cafe at the bookstore of Hauser & Wirth, a Starbucks, and Ill Piccolo Ristoro Cafe inside High Line Nine.

Location of the Galleries in Chelsea, New York. The area West from the High Line
Location of the Galleries

How to visit

The way you want to visit these galleries highly depends on your interest in art. If it is not your favorite activity but you still want to see it now that you’re there, you could just do one street or go to a specific gallery and then leave.

If you love it and want to see as much as possible, I suggest the following. Begin your day at the High Line, in the morning it isn’t crowded yet. Time your visit so you’re nearby 18th Street around 10h00. Then take the exit at 18th Street, walk towards the water and turn right at the IAC building. The building is quite unique so it’s a nice bonus while making your way to the galleries. When you arrive at the crossing of 19th Street and 11th Ave, the fun can begin! Zig zag the streets until you reach 29th Street, while entering all the galleries you want.

We spent 5 to 6 hours doing this so if admiring art is your favorite activity, it can take your whole day.

Building on the corner of 19th St and 11th Ave, Chelsea NY
Building on the corner of 19th St and 11th Ave

Personal favorites

David Zwirner

This gallery is huge. When you first enter, you only see one room, and it is already so big. The primary room is the one in the first picture of this post. After that, there are 2 other rooms, one of them being the space in the picture below. We were quite impressed by this galleries magnitude, and it was only the first one we entered.

They have several locations all over the world and have rotating exhibitions of various artists. For more info about the current exhibitions of the different locations, visit their website.

Mon-Fri 10h00-18h00 | 19th Street | exhibition

David Zwirner Gallery New York
David Zwirner Gallery

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

This one had a rather fascinating exhibition while we were there. The overall theme of the exhibition was light, with several notable installations. They all played with light, artificial or natural, in an interesting way.

Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 21st Street | exhibition

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery New York
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Hauser & Wirth

This was the top of all galleries for us. Partly because of the outstanding exhibitions here, partly because we discovered it by accident. After a few streets of galleries, we wanted to rest for a while and have a drink. The café options in this part of Chelsea are scarce, so when we saw a little bookstore with a certificate of health grade A hanging on the window, we went inside. While enjoying our drinks, a large group with a guide entered the bookstore from a door next to the desk.

The door was quite discrete and we would never have thought there would be a gallery behind it. When we entered the gallery, we were again impressed by the magnitude of the secret space. On the ground floor, there were 2 big spaces with enormous blue paintings. The second and third floor had 2 different exhibitions, all 3 exhibitions were really impressive in their own way.

When you can’t do all the galleries in Chelsea, be sure to check the exhibitions of this one out because they have an outstanding taste. We liked this one more than some museums we did, and it was of comparable size with the museums, but free.

Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 22nd Street | exhibition

Hauser & Wirth Gallery New York
Hauser & Wirth

Taglialatella Galleries

When you walk the High Line, you will see a billboard standing on their roof. Despite their board, we didn’t go specifically to their gallery. We just passed by and were surprised by the big artists whose artworks were inside. You can find artists like Andy Warhol, Jef Koons, etc. here.

Mon-Sat 10h00-18h00 Sun 11h00-17h00 | 10th Ave | exhibition

Gagosian

This gallery is a big one. They have several locations all over the world and 5 in New York, so don’t expect something mediocre here. The location at 24th Street is immense. The picture below is the biggest space, I think there are 3 spaces in total. You can check the current exhibition on their website, but this one is already worth it just because of the enormous rooms alone.

Gagosian Gallery New York
Gagosian

Gallery Henoch

When we were there, they exhibited some photorealistic paintings like the one below. We love to see this kind of art so this one had to be on my list. It is one of the smaller galleries in the district, but they have a good taste so I think it is definitely worth visiting.

Gallery Henoch New York
Gallery Henoch

Hollis Taggart

It is a small gallery space (the room is of normal size for Belgium by the way, but compared to American sizes it is a bit smaller), located in a building with several smaller galleries on each floor. When you enter the building, the different exhibitions are listed on the wall and you can take the elevator to the galleries. The building in which this gallery is located is on 515 W 26th Street.

Hollis Taggart Gallery New York
Hollis Taggart

High Line Nine

This building contains various small exhibition spaces. When we got there, only half was filled. But I think with this location, within a year none of the spaces will be empty anymore. One of the spaces is also a coffee bar, so the ideal place to take a little rest.

Joshua Liner Gallery

This smaller gallery surprised us. The exhibition running at that time was so colorful and refreshing, I hope they have art like this all the time! Unfortunately, this exhibition only lasted until July 19th, so it has already ended while I write about it. Still, I think it is worth it to check out the current exhibition because they have excellent taste!

Joshua Liner Gallery New York
Joshua Liner Gallery

Other galleries we liked

As said before, these streets are FULL of galleries. There are many more, and because I didn’t want to exclude the following galleries from this post, I will list them below. A lot depends on the exhibition at the moment you will visit, so maybe they have a killer artist at that moment. I think it is worth it checking out these too.

303 GALLERY
Mon-Fri 10h00-17h00 | 21st Street | exhibition

LEHMANN MAUPIN
Mon-Fri 10h00-18h00 | 22nd Street | exhibition

SIKKEMA JENKINS & CO
Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 22nd Street | exhibition

LISSON GALLERY
Mon-Fri 10h00-18h00 | 24th Street | exhibition

MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY
Mon-Fri 10h00-18h00 | 24th Street | exhibition

C24 GALLERY
Mon-Fri 10h00-18h00 | 24th Street | exhibition

MARLBOROUGH
Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 25th Street | exhibition

UNIX GALLERY
Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 26th Street | exhibition

PAULA COOPER GALLERY
Mon-Fri 10h00-17h00 | 26th Street | exhibition

GALERIE LELONG & CO.
Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 26th Street | exhibition

KASMIN GALLERY
Tue-Sat 10h00-18h00 | 27th Street | exhibition

Stay up-to-date: IG accounts to follow

These exhibitions are constantly changing, so you have to keep following where the good exhibitions are. One way that I found to be really easy, was just following a few Instagram accounts that tell you where the good things are happening. They helped me a lot, and I want you to have the best experience so I am happy to share them with you.

Need inspiration about other parts of New York?

If you are reading this post, I assume that you will be visiting other neighborhoods too. For more information about Chelsea, including the High Line, Hudson Yards and Meatpacking District, you can read this post below:

Walking the High Line | a complete guide of the park

If you want more information about other parts of New York, I may have a post about it too. I plan on finishing all my posts about New York by the end of October, so if it isn’t October yet, keep up to date by following my Instagram account and I will notify you when there is a new one.

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