Since the 1990s, the Chelsea gallery scene has been synonymous with the New York art world, even though numerous other neighborhoods (the Upper East Side, the Lower East Side, Midtown and Soho, as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens such as Bushwick and Long Island City) play host to NYC’s myriad art galleries. Even so, Chelsea remains the largest such district with scores of spaces to traipse through—including the flagship outposts of global mega-dealers Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner. Occupying roughly ten blocks straddling Tenth and Eleventh Avenues from 18th to 28th Streets, Chelsea was once home to hundreds of garages and warehouses. This industrial heritage is reflected in gallery interiors that tend to be large and generally free of columns, a combination that encourages extremely ambitious installations like those by the sculptor Richard Serra. This propensity for enormous art has drawn criticism in recent years, but in any case, Chelsea has seen it star dimmed somewhat thanks to an invasion of starchitect-designed residential buildings, and rising rents that have driven many galleries to other parts of town. Still, if you want to see tons of contemporary art, Chelsea is the one-stop-shopping place to be. To help find your way around, check out our select list of the best Chelsea art galleries.
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