gallery hopping in chelsea

a day spent cosplaying as rich and cultured

New York City is an expensive place. It seems like every time you step outside you spend money. It seems there is an entire subgenre of Tiktok dedicated to free activities in the city. One free activity that keeps giving is ironically taking a step into the world of the rich. Gallery hopping. Spending a day meandering through minimal spaces filled with contemporary art of many forms often with minimal context. Acceptable to window shop with no expectation to shop at all. 

There are a few pockets of the city with clusters of galleries, and Chelsea probably has the highest concentration. West of 10th Ave, extending from 19th up to 29th, every street is lined with industrial buildings with inconspicuous signs on doors leading to rooms filled with art. It’s a little intimidating, opening the door and walking in. Some are quite small, a single room with a few works from a single artist. Others are bigger and feel like a museum with large format art and installations and varied mediums.

Those well versed in the art world can navigate the galleries with insight into the areas of specialization for the various galleries, when the new exhibitions would come in, the local artists and the international network of artists that come through the white walls of the unassuming facades. 

On any given day, wander into enough galleries and you’ll be treated with a variety of art forms, from mixed media 3D art depicting fleeting life moments to exquisitely intricate photorealistic paintings of exotic animals to unexpected craft as the chosen medium to showcase everyday scenes. The stories are at times thought provoking, and often times lost to the casual viewer. But you don’t need to know the meaning and backstory to enjoy looking at the strange and wonderful things that artists create and wonder where this art will end up going. 


Chelsea is admittedly not the most accessible part of Manhattan by train. Your best bet would probably be to take the ACE to 23rd St or the 7 train to Hudson Yards and walking down. 


The exhibitions are always changing, making for a great repeat activity throughout the year. It’s an easy, free, fluid activity that works for most weather given it is mostly indoor. It’s a nice solo activity or fun with some art inclined friends. An easy way to fill up some time, and get some creative stimulation without dealing with the often crowded museums on a Saturday.

Note that many galleries are closed on Sunday and Monday (and sometimes another weekday). Exhibition opening nights are usually on Thursdays.


You don’t really need a strategy to gallery hop, wandering aimlessly will get you pretty far, but these bigger ones are always worth checking out.

  • David Zwirner Gallery: 525 W 19th St
  • Paula Cooper Gallery: 534 W 21st St
  • Tanya Bonakdar Gallery: 521 W 21st St #1
  • Hauser & Wirth: 542 W 22nd St
  • Dia Chelsea: 537 W 22nd St
  • Gagosian: 555 W 24th St
  • Lehmann Maupin: 501 W 24th St
  • Pace Gallery: 540 W 25th St
  • Agora Gallery: 530 W 25th St
  • Kasmin Gallery: 509 W 27th St

While you’re here, be sure to also pop into Printed Matter to peruse the well curated collection of art books and publications. 

The longterm immersive installation at Dia Chelsea is worth sitting in for a while to let the sound and vibrations envelop you. 

The Comme des Garçons shop is iconic for all in the world of fashion. 

And if you’re lucky you might meet a perfectly proper gallery pup. 

MAKE IT A DAY: a vague itinerary

  • Start off at Chelsea Market, grab some breakfast, coffee at Kobrick (or if you’re feeling particularly touristy at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery)
  • Walk to Little Island (early enough for it to still be a pleasant walk)
  • Go to The Whitney for some American art as a starter.
  • Walk along the High Line into the gallery section
  • For a break, sit down for cake and tea at Harbs or grab some coffee and continue gallery hopping, maybe detour to Hudson River Park for some air.
  • Finish off at Hudson Yards, check out what’s happening at The Shed, catch some views, shop, get some dinner, marvel at how sterile and modern this part of town is.

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