Though it sits in the shadow of its next-door neighbor, New York City, Newark is a destination all its own. Art lovers especially will enjoy the variety found in this New Jersey city, with its own skyline, parks, and bustling downtown. Here are five museums and galleries to get you started.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Newark, the Newark Museum offers visitors a variety of arts and cultural experiences in one setting. Those wanting to see paintings from Asia, the Americas, and Europe are never disappointed at this historic locale. The peaceful garden is filled with sculptures and quiet contemplative spaces for a break from the city’s quick pace, too.
Connoisseurs of decorative arts are attracted to crafted silver household items, jewelry, and hand-shaped pots. Explore the city’s heritage that’s on display through several architectural buildings and their contents, including a stone schoolhouse from the 1700s, a small 19th century firehouse, and the grand John Ballantine House built in 1885, which was later merged into the museum as a separate wing.
Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University
While the main Rutgers campus is in New Brunswick, the Newark branch of this state school started bringing art to the area in 1979 through its Paul Robeson Galleries. The five distinct gallery locations make it easier to offer diverse exhibits in different types of spaces. Find something on jazz music or prints with a migration theme, or enjoy other exhibitions that focus on architecture, photography, and modern painting.
This nonprofit arts gallery is as much a community space as a site to exhibit art. Gallery Aferro offers around a dozen art exhibitions a year, featuring works from local artists and international ones, plus public programming like films, performances, artist talks, and events. A year-round residency program provides studio space for 17 artists. With its communal focus, entrance is free. Gallery Aferro also exhibits public art in storefront windows to further engage the community. Stop by the art shop to find affordable art, or pop into the community book room to enjoy reading or board games.
City Without Walls Gallery
Like Gallery Aferro, Newark’s City Without Walls (cWOW) is more than just an art gallery. Dubbed an urban gallery for emerging art, this nonprofit alternative art space hosts exhibitions and serves as a resource for artists to provide them with additional opportunities and educational programming. The cWOW gallery targets youth as well, with an ArtReach program for talented high school students, plus apprenticeship and mentoring programs. Check out the results of these collaborations, including new media and video exhibitions with jointly conceived works from the students and their mentors.
The New Jersey Historical Society Museum
As the oldest cultural institution in the state, the New Jersey Historical Society Museum is an ongoing record of life in the Garden State. In this museum, you’ll find costumes, tools, glass, paintings, photographs, ceramics, furniture, clocks, household items, books, and more. Exhibits change frequently, so it’s easy to justify making multiple trips. Past exhibitions ranged in topic from how lives changed after September 11 to urban and suburban playgrounds in the state.
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