Instagram has changed the way we consume art. Many people are no longer content to simply gaze at a picture on a wall. They want to experience art, document it and share that moment with others.
We found exhibits that not only provide an Instagram-worthy backdrop — they change the way we define art and the museum setting. From curated graffiti to digital murals, here are four destinations you must see for yourself.
Sprawling across two floors, this vast exhibit gives street art a long-overdue New York retrospective. “Beyond the Streets” started in L.A., but this edition is twice the size and spotlights more than 150 international artists, including scene veterans like Eric Haze, who went on to create logos for the Beastie Boys and other hip-hop groups, alongside some more familiar names like Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.
The Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous group of feminist activist artists, brought its trademark in-your-face style and biting humor to the show to uncover gender inequalities in the art world. “How many women had one-person exhibitions at NYC museums last year? Guggenheim 0, Metropolitan 0, Modern 1, Whitney 0,” reads a piece. One wall is plastered with an oversized gorilla face with hypnotic yellow eyes, and above it says, “If you keep women out, they get resentful.”
Another highlight is “Facing the Giant: Three Decades of Dissent,” a look at the 30-year career of Shepard Fairey, who is best known for creating the iconic Obama “Hope” poster. It starts with Fairey’s 1989 André the Giant sticker, which he told us served as a Rorschach test onto which people projected their feelings, and follows his path to more politically charged screenprint and mixed media collage works that tackle darker themes, like the media coverage of the mass incarceration of African-Americans.
Where to Stay: Go next door to Forbes Travel Guide RecommendedThe William Vale. Brooklyn Beer Garden is taking over the trendy hotel’s fourth-floor terrace for the summer, pouring Brooklyn craft brews and showcasing local graffiti artists like Bianca Romero, who layers magazine print and colorful paint to explore questions of identity, and Mad Vaillan, who dresses up pop-culture figures like cartoons in villain disguises.
Peruse the outdoor gallery’s seven-foot-long murals, but be sure to take in the hotel’s sweeping downtown vistas, too. An incentive to spend the night: every room comes with a balcony so you can linger and gaze at the city.
One of the hottest museums in Tokyo (superstar DJ Steve Aoki is a big fan), this permanent facility aims to liberate art from its physical constraints. To do that, every installation in the 108,000-square-foot space is interactive, making you an essential part of the digital wonderland.
About 520 computers and 470 video projectors craft displays like the Forest of Resonating Lamps, an area teeming with lanterns. When you enter and touch a lamp, its light seeps into two nearby lamps, and it continues to spread through the other fixtures until all of them are aglow. Then the light returns to the first lamp. Of course, if there’s more than one person in the room, the processes happen simultaneously to surreal, 3D effect.
Where to Stay: Even if tickets are sold out, Four-StarConrad Tokyo can get you inside. The hotel’s Suite & Borderless package guarantees museum entry, along with a suite and daily breakfast.
The Conrad is just the respite for an art getaway. The sleek tower keeps its own impressive collection, featuring works from 25 Japanese artists. In the first-floor lobby, Purification 1 by Nobuyuki Tanaka sets the tone with an immense red lacquer stem whose plucked calla lily blossom rests next to it.
Venture off the Strip to uncover a forgotten part of Vegas. The Neon Museum preserves Sin City’s vintage signs dating back to 1930 on its 2.27-acre grounds. While the museum offers general admission, opt for a guided tour to learn the history behind the flashy marquees, which range from an 80-foot-tall Hard Rock Café guitar to the iconic red “Stardust” letters.
Tip: Go at night to see some of them illuminated and to catch “Brilliant!,” a 30-minute show that incorporates music and archival footage while shining a light on unrestored signs.
For something a bit different, check out “Lost Vegas: Tim Burton @ The Neon Museum Presented by the Engelstad Foundation” on Oct. 15, just in time for Halloween. Burton’s sculptures and digital art will incorporate some of the sign collection, which made appearances in the director’s sci-fi sendup Mars Attacks! This will mark the first time the facility has partnered with a high-profile artist.
Where to Stay: Step into the light at Wynn Plaza, where the nine-foot-tall Arrows and Flower Neon Sign flickers and rotates, giving everyone a view of the aforementioned Murakami’s bright, bubbly flower face paired with fashion designer Virgil Abloh’s arrows from his Off-White streetwear label (he also works as artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton).
After seeing that radiant and happy piece, retire to Five-Star Wynn Tower Suites and Four-Star Wynn Las Vegas. Both art-filled hotels will luxuriously shield you from the city’s bright lights.
Classic paintings come to life at this former 11th Arrondissement foundry. Opened in 2018, the digital art center takes the works of artists like Klimt and transforms them into an immersive experience. Watch as the pieces are choreographed across 33-foot-tall walls and the floor by 140 laser video projectors into a mesmerizing spectacle of images.
“Van Gogh: Starry Night” is the latest show to illuminate the Atelier. The painter’s bold colors and short brushstrokes seem to jump off of the walls. Oversized versions of The Potato Eaters, Sunflowers, Starry Night and more will flow from one image to the next to an eclectic soundtrack that includes Janis Joplin, Giacomo Puccini and Miles Davis.
The projections play on a loop, so you won’t miss anything. Since seating is sparse, plan to join most of the onlookers sitting on the concrete floor and dress accordingly.
Browse more than 700 titles in the Five-Star hotel’s art-focused bookstore. Pop into Art District, its rotating contemporary gallery, where we caught French street artist Mr. Brainwash’s “Einstein,” in which the scientist carries a protest sign that reads “Love Is The Answer” against a graffiti-strewn backdrop, and Banksy albums with silkscreened covers and vinyl.
For more, consult the art concierge, who can lead you through Le Royal Monceau’s 300-piece art collection, arrange guitar lessons (with the acoustic that comes in your room) and get you access to artistic events, private collections and places like Atelier des Lumières.
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