Beyond the crowds of Paris and New York lies a world brimming with hidden artistic treasures. A wave of smaller cities is quietly revolutionizing the art tourism landscape.
Delve into captivating destinations offering art lovers unique opportunities to immerse themselves in wonders spanning millennia of human creation and explore cutting-edge displays of contemporary expression.
These underrated art cities will ignite your imagination and leave you begging for more.
Many travelers dismiss Bentonville as Walmart central. However, art lovers would be remiss to pass over the charming southern town.
Representing Visit Bentonville as VP of communication and marketing, Alison Nation says, “Bentonville is a gem of a destination for art enthusiasts seeking a unique and immersive cultural experience.”
Visitors will find murals and public art installations sprinkled throughout the city, and the nascent FORMAT festival seeks to merge the experiences of visual and performing arts.
Ashlee Fechino, Travel Writer with The Happiness Function, loves heading to Bentonville for weekend getaways. “We’re called to the area because of its thriving art and outdoor scene,” says Fechino, adding that she loves the Crystal Bridges Art Museum, which celebrates American art from the Colonial Period through the present time with works from iconic painters such as Diego Rivera and John Singer Sargent.
Dingle combines art with venerable Irish traditions to create a new contemporary form. Susan Callery, the owner of the Greenlane Gallery in Dingle, says the town showcases the best of Irish art, combining motifs from ancient Gaelic traditions, Celtic mythologies, and Druidism with modern forms of expression.
Travel Writer Casandra Karpiak enjoys Dingles’ thriving arts scene. “The charming town of Dingle has a vibrant and eclectic arts community set within its spectacular landscape. Visitors can follow the Dingle Peninsula Arts & Crafts Trail or just spend time exploring its art galleries and stunning contemporary art scene,” she says.
Stephanie de la Hera, Account Manager of Antigua’s Villa Bokéh, believes art lovers would marvel at the intersectionality between art and culture on display in Antigua. The city features numerous art galleries, studios, and workshops displaying paintings, sculptures, pottery, and more.
Marjolein Dilven, founder of Spark Nomad, explains the surprising commitment to art on display in the town. “Antigua, Guatemala is well-known for its hiking opportunities, from active volcanos to Antigua’s many parks. However, when strolling around the city, you come across plenty of small art galleries and local artists showing their art wherever they can. If you’re looking to see the work of several Central- and South-American artists, visit La Antigua Galería de Arte a couple of blocks from the main square.”
Indianapolis is well known for racing, but the city boasts impressive attractions for art lovers.
Grace Wallace with Visit Indy says visitors must see the Indianapolis Museum of Art, home to an impressive collection of works by famed artists such as Rembrandt, Picasso, and O’Keefe.
Wallace adds that Indianapolis welcomes artists as well as art lovers. The city features Indy Walls, an exterior wall intended for artists to connect through their mediums and the Indianapolis Art Center, nonprofit offering classes and programs designed to inspire the next generation of artists.
If you love sampling fine wine while contemplating impressive works of art, you need to book a trip to Mendoza. David DiGregorio, the USA representative of Visit Argentina, says wineries in the region combine their passion for wine and love of the arts to create a unique experience for cultured travelers.
The region’s wineries exhibit contemporary art on their walls, inviting patrons to admire the works while enjoying delightful flavors harvested from the nearby vineyards.
Talented local artists use one of the area’s most plentiful resources, wine barrels, to create a wide array of fabulous decorative arts, from furniture to sculpture. Delighted visitors will discover the works scattered throughout the city’s wineries, vineyards, and public places.
Dilven visited Mendoza last February. She says, “While Mendoza is an Argentinean highlight mostly known for its wine, few people know the city has plenty of art galleries to explore and local artists they can support,” recommending Eliana Molinellie’s contemporary art gallery as a top choice for local, contemporary art.
Many visit San Antonio to remember the Alamo or enjoy the scenic River Walk, unaware of the fantastic art scene growing within the lively Texan city.
Texas Travel Expert Jill Robbins says San Antonio needs to be on any art lover’s radar. “Both the McNay Art Museum and the San Antonio Art Museum are fully dedicated to works of local, national, and international artists across various mediums,” she says, adding that the Witte Museum and Smithsonian-affiliated Institute of Texan Culture also feature robust collections of various artwork.
David Gonzalez, VP of Media Relations and Communications, Visit San Antonio, says, “The city is home to a plethora of museums, public art, and architectural treasures,” recommending the Briscoe Western Art Museum, which celebrates the landscapes, motifs, and heritage of the Southwest and the San Antonio Museum of Art which features some of the world’s most ancient artworks, dating from 5000 BCE.
Travelers consider Kansas a flyover state, but art lovers should give Kansas’s biggest city a second look. Alexandria Hurley, Director of Public Relations managing tourism for Wichita, says the city “offers a vibrant and diverse art scene that is sure to captivate enthusiasts from all walks of life.”
Visitors will delight in the 80 murals and 150 iconic Keeper of the Plains sculptures scattered throughout the city, including Joan Miro’s “Personages Oiseaux,” or “Bird People,” one of the most iconic public works on display.
Wichita celebrates art in all forms, featuring the Wichita Grand Opera, off-broadway theater productions, The Wichita Art Museum, a Frank Lloyd Wright House, and numerous live music venues.
Art lovers swarm Paris, but they’d be wise to include Honfleur, a charming Norman village, in their French itinerary.
Marco Baez, founder of Emerald Sky PR, says, “Honfleur has inspired innumerable canvas paintings throughout history due to its enigmatic charm and standing as a favorite destination among painters.” Baez adds that Honfluer helped launch the Impressionist Movement. Here, Claude Monet learned to see and paint light under Eugene Boudin’s tutelage in the quaint Norman village.
Most of Honfleur’s structures survived the German bombardment during world war 2, allowing visitors to view the village as Monet did. The picturesque scene still draws artists today, as Karpiak noted on her visit. “It’s common to find contemporary artists painting the same scenes that captivated the Impressionists two centuries ago,” she said, adding that there are numerous galleries visitors can explore to view these pieces.
Fort Collins leads the way in making art accessible to the public. Katy Schneider, Vice President of Marketing at Visit Fort Collins, says, “Much of the City’s success can be attributed to embracing the unexpected and expanding boundaries beyond galleries and museums.”
The city created free self-guided art tours enabling visitors to experience the city’s vibrant art scene at their own pace. The tours showcase unique exhibitions the city promotes, including the Pianos About Town installation and the Transformer Cabinet Mural Project. Both projects aim to beautify the city and bring art into public spaces.
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Whether you are an avid collector, a passionate art history student, or even a budding artist, these surprising jewels invite you to immerse yourself in a hidden realm of artistic expression.
Step off the beaten path, and let the lesser-known art cities inspire your creative journey.
This article was produced and syndicated by Media Decision.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.