Tour New York City’s Street Art

Museums can be pricey. Luckily, New York City has loads of exciting street and public art outside of the museums and galleries — all of which you can see for free, or for the price of a tour.

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Check out the Public Art Fund’s major installations at popular attractions like Rockefeller Center and Central Park. Large-scale outdoor projects change every few months, ranging from quirky Rockefeller Center pieces like Jeff Koons’ 45-foot-high inflatable ballerina or Anish Kapoor’s 35-foot-high mirror. Also at Rockefeller Center, don’t miss the massive 7-ton bronze Art Deco sculpture of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders.

Walking Tours

Take a walking tour of the street art of Bushwick in Brooklyn or of East Harlem with a local guide, who might also be an artist, and see and learn about different urban artists, styles, and stories behind the artwork. Discover all shapes and sizes of art, including mosaics, murals, graffiti, and posters, and find out what influenced the work, like the local hip-hop community.

The Audubon Mural Project

Bird is the word for The Audubon Mural Project. The project spotlights birds threatened by climate change with huge paintings of different species on walls throughout Harlem. If you’re a fan of birds like the almighty boat-tailed grackle, long-eared owls, or laughing gulls, you’ll want to check out these murals. The best part is, you can see the birds up close and larger-than-life, and they won’t fly away.

Old King Cole Mural

One of New York City’s most famous murals hangs in the St. Regis hotel and was created by artist Maxfield Parrish. The “Old King Cole” mural has been there since 1932 and has enjoyed the company of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, and Joe DiMaggio.

Lower East Side

A red and yellow mural on an apartment wall in New York that reads rise above

Scout the streets of the Lower East Side for some of the city’s most eye-catching, boundary-pushing art. Wild, super-creative pieces can spring up overnight in unexpected places, so keep your eyes peeled for colorful graffiti and other surprises. An artist might stick a small sculpture to a random wall, crochet an image of Abe Lincoln on a fence with brightly-colored yarn, or tape a series of paintings or posters to light poles. Local faves include Shepard Fairey’s (the artist who created Obama’s “Hope” poster) bright orange and yellow “Rise Above” mural at 1st Avenue and 11th Street and his Debbie Harry mural on Bowery, across the street from where world-famous punk rock club CBGB once stood. At 22 E. 2nd Street, changing murals on the old Ideal Glass storefront might show a life-size pink-and-green camping scene by Jen Hitchings or a cool new-age geisha by Ayakamay in red, gold, and white.

Houston Bowery Wall

A very colorful wall art mural on the Houston Bowery Wall with the American flag dotted with cartoons all over it and a giant green Hulk-like figure busting through it in New York

A few blocks away from the Ideal Glass mural, see the ever-changing murals by up-and-coming artists from around the world at the Houston Bowery Wall. Originally made famous with the artwork of Keith Haring, the wall now includes eye-catching murals by cutting-edge artists like London’s Lakwena and Spain’s PichiAvo.

Where are your New York City street art favorites? Share them with us on Facebook.

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