Creative Strategist – Jess Willemse


A collection of my wandering thoughts on design, brands, books, music and the like.​

NYC Journal: Guggen-what? Art galleries in NYC.


To me, there is nothing more daunting than a gallery or museum where you can't see the end (hence why I haven't tried to tackle The Met - yet).

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I will admit, I am probably one of the most irritating people to go to a museum or art gallery with. Don't get me wrong, I love that kind of stuff, but, I just have a very short attention span. I am frankly not too fussed with the specifics, and because of that rarely do I read the little descriptions. I look at art on two levels: the technique/craft of a piece, and whether or not it gives me the feels. If it doesn't give me feels or intrigue or a reason to care, I move on to the next. Brutal, I know. If only I was judging X-Factor.

With this being said, I remember in high school and spending the entire art gallery visit in the Colin McCahon exhibition. Why? Because, for the lack of a better cliché, it spoke to me. I wanted to spend my time fully absorbing his pieces, rather than attempting to understand others (aka the Renaissance paintings). And since that visit, I have found myself being influenced over and over by McCahon’s work.

With this loosely relevant preamble, I am actually leading on to talk about the two galleries I have been to visit so far in NYC. And, why they should be on your to-do list, even if you have a short attention span like me.

One / The Guggenheim


To me, there is nothing more daunting than a gallery or museum where you can't see the end of it (hence why I haven't tried to tackle The Met - yet). I loved the Guggenheim because you literally look up from the ground floor, and you can see how the gallery plays out. The architecture is a work of art in itself. I was actually getting distracted by how well the gallery flowed from exhibit to exhibit because of the building design. In between the traditional pieces (Kandinsky, Mondrian, Picasso), there were these pockets of interesting modern art, like the 'Tales of Our Time' exhibit – a section of bizarrely interesting Chinese art. There was a rhythm to the way you experienced this building, which is why I enjoyed it so much.

Two / The Frick Museum


Forget Grand Designs, this is the most stunning house I have ever seen. Tucked away between Central Park and Madison Ave, it's hard to image a residence as spacious and grand as this exists in the sardine tin of NYC. The paintings in this gallery were beautiful, and like the house, grand. What I enjoyed though, again, was the architecture and design of the gallery. Accompanied by an audio guide (yay, no reading!) I enjoyed during this visit the details of how the house was designed to specifically complement the Frick collection of art.

What I love about art is that is it totally subjective. In the way we approach it, enjoy it, analyse it and remember it – each person is different. You may be like me and essentially run though a gallery, you may only visit one exhibit, you may take your time at each piece, or, you may do none of the above. The reason I love to go to galleries though is that no matter how you approach it, you always come away richer in culture.

What is your favourite gallery or exhibit you've been to? Also, any advice on tackling The Metropolitan Museum of Art? Because frankly, it kind of intimidates me. Anyhow, thanks for having a read and i'll leave you with a picture of my face at the top of the Guggen-whats-it.