Where Art Lives – Twelve Stunning Galleries

A truly sensational gallery experience isn’t so simple as just filling a pretty or well lit room with visual treats. More often than not, and especially nowadays with the excitement which buzzes around radical and artful architecture, the gallery is just as much of a work of art, as the art itself. Here’s my list of twelve stunning homes to art and design:

Photo: National Geographic London
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The Victoria and Albert Museum of London is the world’s leading museum of art and design. Established in 1852, the museum was founded on the belief that art should be available to all – a credo it has continued to this day, maintaining free access to most of it’s collections. One of the most eye-catching pieces in the whole museum sits primely in the main entrance: the Dale Chihuly V&A Rotunda Chandelier – a vibrant, tentacled wonder of green, blue and yellow blown glass. At 8.2 x 3.7 x 3.7m, the piece is massive, and is certainly the centrepiece of the huge entrance hall. You can follow the V&A Museum on Instagram @vamuseum.

Photo: Joe Schildhorn/Billy Farrell Agency

The offerings in The Frick Collection museum were assembled by Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), and they live now in his former residence on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The Frick mansion itself is a beautiful example of Gilded Age architecture, and within it’s vast stone walls lies a most tranquil oasis. Designed by John Russell Pope as a part of the conversion of the residential mansion into a public museum, the Garden Court is a stunning feature of the gallery. You can follow The Frick Collection on Instagram @frickcollection.
Photo: MVRDV, Daria Scagliola and Stijn Brakee

Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in the Netherlands underwent extensive renovations in 2006, with the eye catching additions to the chapel (above) being completed in 2013-2014. Having started it’s life as a home for the poor and elderly, the museum’s historical exterior doesn’t let on to the bright, loud and altogether unique entrance hiding just out of sight. Interestingly, as the chapel is listed as a monument, the renovations couldn’t change the existing structure – so all of that brilliant red shelving? It’s made from MDF. You can follow Stedelijk Museum Schiedam on Instagram @smschdm.

Photo: Fred R. Conrad and The New York Times

The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, as the title suggests, is more about design than traditional art. Dedicated to historic and contemporary design specifically, the museum is housed in the former home of Andrew Carnegie. I say home, but I mean a sixty-four-room mansion. The museum reopened in 2014, after having been both restored and renovated. Part of that renovation was the incredible interactive elements installed throughout the museum, like the tables which let visitors view the entire collection. You can follow the Cooper Hewitt Museum on Instagram @cooperhewitt.

Photo: Wallpaper and Gautier DeBlond


The Gagosian Gallery has eleven spaces in total; three in New York, two in London, and one each in Beverly Hills, Athens, Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong. The Paris arm of the Gagosian opened in 2010, located just off the Champs Élysées. Made up of four floors, two of which are dedicated to public exhibitions, the space was designed by Paris-based architect Jean-Francois Bodin, with London-based Caruso St. John. The gallery is calm and serene, a genuinely lovely place for art to live. The stairwell, I think, is a testament to the considered design of the space as a whole – the creamy plaster and warm wood a sculptural feature in itself. You can follow the Gagosian Gallery on Instagram @gagosiangallery.
Photo: David Heald and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation New York

The Guggenheim Museum of New York is itself a piece of art. So beautiful is it, that people would flock to see just the shell of the building if the walls were bare and the gallery empty, I’m sure. Designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the genius designer was approached by Hilla Rebay (art advisor to Solomon R. Guggenheim) in 1943 to imagine the building. Multiple locations were considered for the museum-several in Manhattan as well as the Bronx-before it’s eventual site on Fifth Avenue near to Central Park, was decided on. Sadly, both Wright and Guggenheim passed away before the building was finished in 1959. You can follow the Guggenheim Museum on Instagram @guggenheim.
Photo: Iwan Baan

The Serpentine Galleries of London are two spaces situated on either side of The Serpentine lake in London’s Kensington Gardens. One of the most exciting and innovative programmes presented by the Gallery, is the annual Serpentine Pavilion. An architecture program complemented by a series of sculpture projects, artist and digital commissions, and educational programmes, the Pavilion project draws in a crowd every year. Last year (as above) the Pavilion was designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radić. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the project, the 2015 Pavilion will be a technicolour delight, designed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano of SelgasCano. You can follow the Serpentine Gallery on Instagram @serpentineUK

Photo: Maya Hayuk, Cooper Cole Gallery and Hammer Museum

The Hammer Museum at UCLA in California was founded by Dr. Armand Hammer, and designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes. Dr. Hammer passed three weeks after the Museum opened in December 1990, and as a result many spaces in the gallery were left unfinished. In 1994, the University of California formalised a partnership with the Museum, and UCLA subsequently relocated their collections to the space. The stairway you can see in the image above, is far from just that – the frequented space plays home to many an exhibit itself, with the area ever-changing and very much a part of the scope of the museum. You can follow the Hammer Museum on Instagram @hammer_museum.

Photo: MoMA NY and Bryan Thomas for The New York Times.
MoMA New York, the Museum of Modern Art, started it’s collection with a gift of eight prints and one drawing. Today, the collection has grown to include over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and drawings, and objects of design. MoMA also owns roughly 22,000 films, and has the most premier research facilities of their kind in the world-MoMA’s Library and Archives-which holds more than 300,000 books. In 2006, MoMA underwent renovations which almost doubled the museum’s space. During that remodelling, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden (above) was enlarged, and since September 2013 has been made open and free to the public from 9:30 to 10:15am. You can follow MoMa on Instagram @themuseumofmodernart.


Photo: dezeen and Héléne Binet
In front of a rambling meadow in Somerset sits a cluster of farm buildings, and here lives the Hauser & Wirth Gallery. A multipurpose arts centre which supports an artist-in-residence programme, the site also hosts a restaurant and bar, as well as having plans for a local produce farm store. The exhibition spaces are contained within five rooms, two of which are new builds, while the other three are in the converted buildings. The courtyards are dotted with sculptures and lined with trees, sprawling out into beautifully manicured but unaffected gardens. You can follow Hauser & Wirth on Instagram @hauserwirth.


Photo: MONA Museum of Old and New Art
MONA Hobart has been described as Australia’s answer to the TATE Modern, and the owner and founder of the museum (David Walsh) has called it a “subversive adult Disneyland”. I don’t know what that means exactly, but it sounds pretty fantastic. The Museum of Old and New Art is made up of over 400 pieces and sprawls over three floors, making it the largest privately funded museum in Australia. Appearing at first glance to be on a single level, upon entering the museum visitors must descend a seemingly endless flight of stairs. To view the collection, visitors must work back towards the surface through the windowless labyrinth. You can follow MONA on Instagram @monamuseum.
Photo: Gallery ALL

Gallery ALL is a gallery dedicated to showcasing artful design. Founded in 2013, the gallery has two spaces, one in Los Angeles and another in Beijing. With 2-3 exhibitions per location, showings are curated by the in-house team and invited contributors. As for the building itself; Gallery ALL lives in The Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles (above). A National Historic Landmark, the exterior is mildly unremarkable with it’s facade of brown brick, sandstone and terra cotta – but the interior is a different story. Cathedral-like, the centre court is laden with glazed brick work, ornamental cast iron, tiling, Italian marble, Mexican tile, decorative terra cotta and polished wood, topped off with an enormous skylight. You can follow Gallery ALL on Instagram @gallery_all.
This list of twelve galleries started as one which was well above thirty, and it could have been miles longer. The new normal is fast becoming one which expects the places that play home to art and design, to be just as inventive and enchanting and the masterpieces themselves. These galleries are just some of the spaces that I believe are so, and in more than a couple of cases have inspired and paved the way for the evermore adventurous spaces we get to discover with each new year.
Additional Photos courtesy of Yale Art Gallery, Elizabeth Felicella and Serpentine Gallery.