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  1. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

  2. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

  3. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

  4. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts

Five art trips that aren't Dia: Beacon


Hessel Museum of Art/Bard Center for Curatorial Studies Galleries, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies draws world-class eggheads to its graduate school and art-loving civilians to its Hessel Museum. Currently on show are works from Philippe Parreno, the French-Algerian videographer best known for his on-field portrait of retired soccer star Zinedine Zidane, an exhibition of contemporary art called “At Home/Not at Home.” Walk the adjacent Tivoli Bays Wildlife Management Area, whose winding trails are full of chatty birds. By the end of the day, you’ll have earned a cocktail at the Rhinecliff Hotel’s gleamingly restored 19th-century bar. Bard College, Route 9G, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY ( Wed--Sun 1--5pm; free. Travel: car, or Amtrak to Rhinecliff and then a taxi.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
Boston’s equivalent of the Frick—a lavish mansion showing its former owner’s personal collection—is located in the Fenway, within easy walking distance of the eponymous ballpark and the city’s hulking Museum of Fine Art. If you’re craving the sight of Japanese tattoos or Toulouse-Lautrec posters, head for the MFA; for a concise and cohesive trip back in time, though, walk through room after room decorated with Mrs. Gardner’s blue-chip art, which ranges from Fra Angelico to Anders Zorn by way of Matisse, Rembrandt and Sargent. Your hostess’s will stipulated that everything stay just as she had arranged it, including numerous portraits of herself and a swatch of silk from one of her dresses. When 13 paintings were stolen, the museum hung empty frames. The reward’s still up for grabs: $5 million if you can catch the thief. 280 the Fenway, Boston ( Tue--Sun 11am--5pm; $12, seniors $10, students $5, children under 18 and anyone named Isabella free. Travel: various coach or Chinatown buses, or Amtrak.

Parrish Museum, Southampton, L.I.
This summer, the Parrish is showcasing Rackstraw Downes’s contemporary landscape paintings in the style of the Dutch masters—it’s like Vermeer under the BQE. If his gritty subjects make Southampton look a little precious by comparison, don’t sweat it—you are, after all, at a boutique museum in a hardcore boutique shopping zone. Just rent a bike, ride a mile to the beach and take in the crashing Atlantic. 25 Jobs Ln, Southampton, L.I. ( Through Sept 13: Mon--Sat 11am--5pm, Sun 1--5pm. Other times: Mon, Thu, Fri, Sat 11am--5pm; Sun 1--5pm. Suggested admission $5, seniors and students $3, children under 18 free. Travel: Hampton Jitney or LIRR.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Nobody will judge you if you run up the Rocky stairs (or you can at least tell yourself that). Just pretend you’re training for an intense culture cluster: Sites in walking or trolleying distance from the PMA include the Rodin Museum and the Academy of Natural Sciences. While at the PMA, though, look beyond the museum’s wide-ranging permanent exhibits for a new sculpture garden featuring Isamu Noguchi’s creations, a summer exhibit of Renoir’s late work, and a dozen smaller shows including “May Your Glass Be Ever Full: Drinking in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe.” Art burp. 26th St at the Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia ( Tue--Sun 10am--5pm, Fri 10am--8:45pm; $16, seniors $14, students and children 13--18 $12, children 12 and under free, first Sunday of the month pay what you wish. “Late Renoir” tickets $24, seniors $22, students and children 13--18 $20, children 12 and under $14. Travel: NJ Transit train to SEPTA rail, various coach buses, or Amtrak.

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
A few miles away, the oversize contemporary art museum Mass MoCA is displaying moody portraits by Mike Disfarmer and fanciful ones by...Leonard Nimoy (opening August 1). Blow off their winking caprices and turn your wheels toward Williamstown, where the Clark’s significant cache of Impressionist work is complemented by a small instatllation of John Constable’s English landscapes. The museum’s own landscape is bucolic—if you’re in need of contemporary art, you can walk across the parklike grounds to a new gallery designed by Tadeo Ando, where you’ll find enigmatic figurative sculptures by Spain’s Juan Muoz. Other local draws include the Williams College Museum of Art and the Williamstown Theatre Festival (, through Aug 22), a summer stock boot camp for Hollywood types (this year features Campbell Scott, Tim Daly and Justin Long). Afterward, stop by Pappa Charlie’s Deli for sandwiches named after Blythe Danner, Richard Chamberlain and other stars who’ve performed at the festival in the past. 225 South St, Williamstown, MA ( Through Aug 30: Daily 10am--5pm. Sept--June: Tue--Sun 10am--5pm. June--Oct: $15. Nov--May: free. Travel: car, or Amtrak to Pittsfield and then rent a car.

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