Art has held a special place in the heart of the country for decades, if not longer. For artists and art lovers, the US has a lot to offer in the way of unique art hubs and cities that house a diverse variety of exhibits and styles.
If you’re traveling and you want to see some of the biggest art cities in the country, read on to discover the top ten art locations in the US.
1. New York City | Art Capital of the US
New York City is one of the premier art communities in the US and has been for decades. The city is home to more art organizations and learning institutions than any other city in the country, and it also makes up almost 40% of US art galleries. The city also takes special care to showcase the work of women artists and promote gender equality in the art world.
Furthermore, New York has resources and exhibit variations that cater to both well-known artists and those who are new to the professional art community. NYC also serves as a major center for the international art market, with hundreds of commercial galleries in Manhattan and Brooklyn, annual art fairs that feature cutting-edge work and auction houses selling iconic paintings for millions of dollars.
Notable Art Sectors: SoHo, Harlem, Bushwick
2. Los Angeles | Beverly Hills
Los Angeles and the Beverly Hills area have become popular art destinations for the past few decades. Despite only making up 7% of the art institutions in the US, the LA area hosts a rich and diverse variety of artistic developments, including street art, privately-owned galleries, and museum exhibits.
This city is a great exposure option for emerging artists, as the divide between exhibiting well-known artists and new artists is quite narrow. In the last few years, Los Angeles galleries had 29% of their exhibits created by well-known artists and 23% by new artists. Museums are a little more divided, with half of the exhibits displaying works made by well-known artists and 21% made by new artists.
Notable Art Sectors: Downtown LA, Beverly Hills, Boyle Heights
3. San Francisco Art
San Francisco is home to several notable art institutions, including the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco’s Art Institute, and SFMOMA. The city accounts for 4% of art institutions in the country, and 5% of art galleries across the US (of which 3% are nonprofit organizations).
This area is another one that’s ideal for new artists, as galleries in San Francisco tend to highlight emerging artists quite well. When it comes to gallery showings in the past few years, 29% of exhibits came from well-known artists while a whopping 39% came from new artists. Again, museums were a little more divided with over half of the exhibits being from well-known artists and 19% being from new artists.
Notable Art Sectors: Mission District, Russian Hill, Outer Sunset
4. Chicago Art Scene
Chicago makes up only 3% of the country’s art institutions, but the city is home to one of the most highly-respected art museums in the US, the Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago also accounts for 4% of the country’s art galleries, and 3% of nonprofit art galleries in the US.
This city is another great area for new artists who are making efforts to establish themselves in the art world. In the past few years, from 2017 to 2021, the body of works that Chicago galleries displayed were 16% from well-known artists and 39% from new artists. Museums in the city had 48% of their exhibits coming from well-known artists and 24% from new artists during the same timeframe.
Notable Art Sectors: Old Town, Lincoln Park, Logan Square
5. Miami Art Community
Miami is a relatively new hub in the art community, as it has undergone most of its artistic growth within the past couple of decades. Despite being somewhat behind the more established art cities in the US, Miami is home to 2% of the country’s institutions centered around art and 3% of the galleries in the US.
Like some of the other cities mentioned in this list, Miami attempts to embrace new artists, as the city’s galleries had 29% of its exhibits between 2017 and 2021 showcase the work of new artists. This is compared with 10% of the exhibits that displayed work from well-known artists. Museums had 61% of their exhibits showcasing well-known artists and 39% showcasing new artists during the same years.
Notable Art Sectors: Little Haiti, Wynwood Art District, Coconut Grove
6. Charleston Gallery Row
Charleston is a smaller art community, but what it lacks in art numbers it makes up for in the willingness to embrace artistic expression. The city is home to 56 art galleries, mostly centered around Gallery Row. The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and the Gibbes Museum are also nestled in Charleston.
On top of being a great community for aspiring artists, Charleston is also an inspiring one, as the French Quarter is sure to stir the thoughts and feelings of artists walking through.
Notable Art Sectors: Charleston French Quarter, Cannonborough, Mt. Pleasant
Fort Lauderdale has an active art community if you know where to look. The city recently opened the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens location, which is the former home and estate of Frederic Clay Bartlett. The NSU Art Museum is also worth a visit to gather inspiration from a collection that’s over 60 years old and features works from Renoir.
Most neighborhoods in the art sector of the city are quite pricey to reside in, which might present a struggle for emerging artists, but Fort Lauderdale’s art galleries and other famous locations are well worth a visit.
Notable Art Sectors: Las Olas, Flagler Village
8. New Orleans Art & Music
Of course New Orleans is going to be one of the top art cities in the US, as it has maintained a unique style and inspired creativity throughout the ages. While New Orleans is mostly known for its music, the contemporary art scene is alive and well, too. The New Orleans Museum of Art is a must-see location for aspiring artists and fans within the community as well.
Notable Art Sectors: Marigny, the French Quarter, Bywater
9. Art in Boulder, Colorado
Boulder, like much of Colorado, is a special place for artists and art enthusiasts. Much of the city embraces the way art has become an intricate part of Colorado as a whole, and in Boulder, there are several art hubs, galleries, and museums worth visiting. An interesting feature you may notice in many Boulder art exhibits is how much the climate and local wildlife influence local artists.
Notable Art Sectors: North Boulder, Old North Boulder
Las Vegas is more than just a place to gamble, as the city’s art community is truly one of a kind. Unlike many art scenes, Las Vegas embraces a more industrial tone. Visitors can expect to see wall murals, street art, and private galleries throughout the city. There’s a little something for every art type here.
Notable Art Sectors: Downtown Las Vegas, the Arts District
America has something for everyone when it comes to art and emerging in the art community. Each of these ten cities have something unique about them that inspire many artists to call these areas home. Depending on your style and individual preferences, you may find yourself drawn to one city over another, but each one is worth exploring.