As much as I love New York City, sometimes I wish I could just board a plane to some land far, far away. But since I don’t have the luxury or the money to hop on a flight on a whim, I try to satisfy my wanderlust by hopping on the subway to one of NYC’s many museums/galleries that are centered around other countries. Here’s a list of a few of the best ones in NYC to make you feel like you’ve left the city.
Note: It’s a pure coincidence that four of the galleries on this list focus on parts of Asia; I just happened to find that these places provide the most immersive experiences. But if you know of other places in NYC that feel like a foreign getaway feel free to mention it in the comments!
I’m in love with the Japan Society’s aesthetic. As soon as you step into the lobby you feel like you’re in a tranquil indoor garden. Seriously, just experiencing the lobby alone is worth the visit (free hours on Fridays from 6-9pm, btw).
Rubin Museum of Art
You don’t need hiking gear to for this trip to the Himalayas. But the Rubin Museum of Art does have a mini mountain of Himalayan art and culture spread out over its six floors of gallery space. What I enjoy most about the Rubin is that it transcends the sterile art museum environment. Perhaps it’s their clever use of colors and lighting, but a trip to the Rubin feels as though you’re taking part in something spiritual.
A Japanese art gallery that offers classes and food? I’d be there all the time if it wasn’t in Long Island City. While there is also a Resobox in the East Village, you can only visit that location by making an advanced appointment. But discussing the depiction of endangered species as amigurumi over a bowl of shoyu ramen is worth the schlep over to Queens.
Ukrainian Institute of America
Housed inside of a late-nineteenth-century mansion, this museum is like Ukraine meets the Gilded Age. When you visit, don’t skip the intro to Ukraine exhibit on the ground floor. It does a good job of prepping your mind to see the rest of the museum, especially its current showcase “Frontline / Peace Life: Ukraine’s Revolutionaries of the Forgotten War.” I highly recommend seeing this display before it closes on March 8th.
Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
Ever wish you could hide away in a Tibetan monastery? Well, there’s no need to beg the Dalai Lama to take you in. Just head on over to the heart of Staten Island, where a woman named Jacques Marchais used her knowledge of the Himalayan region to recreate a Tibetan mountain retreat. This museum’s meditation garden, a fish pond, and, of course, Tibetan art exhibits make for an educational and enlightening experience.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Want to explore ancient Roman and Greek ruins? Go to the Met. Feel like taking a quick trip to Versailles? Go to the Met. Wanderlusting for the Middle East? You probably get the point by now: the Met, with its world class art exhibits, can make you feel like you’re nearly anywhere in the world. The trick is to find the rooms that offer more than your typical pedestaled displays of art. I recommend seeking out the Tomb of Perneb and the Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian Art Wing, the Moroccan Court, all of the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.
What’s your go-to place when you feel like taking a trip abroad without leaving the city?