The Cloisters is a museum of medieval art, but I think it's more than that. To me, it's also a sort of medieval fantasy land (in a good way). The museum building is neo-medieval structure that incorporates genuine pieces of Romanesque and Gothic architecture within it. Spending time there is a little like being transported to another time and place.
The Frick is one of my favorite museums. It’s a small, world-class museum with collections and scholarship of the highest international importance. It's also a calm oasis in the middle of New York City.
We often talk about genres of paintings the way we might talk about genres of movies or books. But then we also talk about genre painting being one of those genres. That might be confusing, so it's important to understand the difference.
The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey is possibly the most under-rated museum ever. It has a fabulous collection and is just a short train ride from Manhattan, but people almost never talk about it. I think this is really unfortunate.
It's easy to assume that you know what you're going to enjoy and only look at that, passing by other artworks without paying much attention. It's all too easy to pre-screen your experience, even if you don't mean to, but I would suggest trying to keep an open mind. You may find a new favorite where you least expect it.
History painting was an important genre in 18th and 19th-century European art. The term is used all the time, but doesn't simply refer to paintings of history. Learn about the characteristics of a history paint and why all the most ambitious artists wanted to pursue it.
What is Romanticism in art? Learn about the different themes and stylistic attributes of Romantic painting, sculpture, and architecture. Find out how it's different from Neo-Classicism, the style that preceded it.
A few quick thoughts on Michael Findlay's book Seeing Slowly: Looking at Modern Art, about enjoying modern and contemporary art.
Learn about Pre-Raphaelite painting. Who were the major artists, what were their ideas, and how can you identify the works? How did the Pre-Raphaelites relate to the industrial revolution and movements like Arts & Crafts?
The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is a small museum focused on American art. It has a lovely atmosphere, and I visit at least once a year. Learn why I enjoy it in and what I saw on my most recent visit.