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Top 25 Mid-Sized Cities for Art

May 2011 | BY | Issue 76, Summer 2011

The top 25 mid-sized cities for art for 2011 are:

1. St. Petersburg, Fla.

The exterior of the Dali Museum features a geodesic glass structure, nicknamed the “Glass Enigma,” that incorporates more than 900 unique triangular-shaped glass panels into its design.

St. Petersburg is reveling in a monumental arts year that kicked off in January with the opening of the new $36 million Dali Museum. The building itself is a work of art, doubling the size of the original and dedicated to showcasing the art of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. The museum includes the Helical Staircase—a spiral ascending to the third floor galleries; Café Gala, named in honor of Dali’s wife; and the Avant-Garden, complete with misty grotto and hedge labyrinth. On view now is an installation of the Dali’s entire permanent collection of 96 paintings, plus drawings, photographs and prints. AmericanStyle reader and resident of St. Petersburg Steve Harris says, “The city has some great art exhibits, for a city its size. The new Chihuly Collection is fabulous, the St. Petersburg Art Museum has always been high quality but has greatly expanded, and I cannot wait to go to the new Dali Museum.”

What’s New?


The Dali has scheduled a host of enticing activities this summer. There’s “Yoga and Dali” every Sunday in June, where the artist’s energy infuses the physical, mental and spiritual inspiration of yoga. Or how about attending “Coffee with a Curator”? It is a special monthly talk by one of the Dali Museum’s curatorial team. Another event you might be interested in is “Breakfast with Dali for Families.” It is presented an hour before the museum opens and includes a child-friendly tour of the museum followed by a breakfast buffet.

Up and Coming


From June 17-July 17, the Morean Art Center will present the work of mixed media artist Dolores Cole in “Mirage,” a solo exhibition. Cole constructs imagined spaces inhabited by iconic and culturally familiar elements, such as the carnival or the Las Vegas Strip. The artist utilizes color to create a sense of motion in her work, resulting in a feeling of movement in the viewer.

“New Folk: Contemporary Self-Taught Art from the Collection” displays the work of visionary and folk artists that are a part of the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art’s permanent collection until Sept. 4. The works explore religion, spirituality and the visionary; nature; popular culture; politics and current events and include work by Jimmie Lee Sudduth, Lonnie Holley, and Buddy Snipes.

2. Savannah, Ga.

The Telfair Academy has spent the past 125 collecting 19th and 20th century American and European art.

“The warmth and charm of Savannah adds so much to the overall art experience. Not only does it offer history and culture, but great dining, natural beauty, public transportation and unique neighborhoods in which to enjoy your art experience,” says reader Pam Jackson, of Gilbert, Ariz. Savannah is a nearly 300-year-old city that artfully balances historic architecture and tradition with trendy galleries and boutiques. Trolley tours are one way to explore the downtown district. Most offer on/off passes, so visitors can stop at any point along the route, then get back on again to the next one. If it’s browsing you’re after, head for the studios and galleries at City Market, a four-block area of restored warehouses and shop fronts adjacent to Ellis Square.

What’s New?

The Telfair Museums, with three separate and very distinctive entities under its name—Telfair Academy, highlighting 19th and 20th century American and European Art; the historic Owens-Thomas House; and the Jepson Center, opened in 2006 and the cornerstone of the museum’s contemporary collections—is a Savannah landmark. This year marks 125 years of collecting for the Telfair Academy, and throughout 2011, special events, exhibitions and programs will celebrate the museum’s important milestone.

Up and Coming

The Savannah College of Art and Design is a city institution that brings the best and brightest young artists from around the country to the Savannah area. From Aug. 13 to Sept. 23, the fifth annual juried “Encore Series” will feature the work of three notable graduate students.

3. New Orleans, La.

Ranked as one of the country’s top museums, the New Orleans Museum of Art celebrates its 100th anniversary this year with special exhibitions and commemorative events.

Food and music, plus lots (and lots!) of visual art: New Orleans offers them all. The city is a veritable melting pot of entertainments. “New Orleans is a hub of music and art. The city itself is inspiring and hosts some wonderful galleries with high quality work,” says reader Teresa Moeman, of Glasgow, Scotland.

For total immersion, visit the New Orleans Arts District, located close to the Mississippi River and the French Quarter. Once called the Warehouse District, it is packed with art galleries, restaurants, shops and world-class museums, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The New Orleans Museum of Art, the city’s oldest fine arts institution, features more than 40,000 works in its permanent collection, and its five-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden—including 50 sculptures, meandering footpaths, reflecting lagoons and 200-year-old live oaks—is ranked as one of the most important sculpture installations in the United States.

What’s New?

It’s been a century of collecting and displaying the highest quality artwork for the New Orleans Museum of Art, including greats such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Hans Hoffmann, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock. A year of celebration will culminate in November with “100 Masterworks for 100 Years—NOMA’s Centennial Celebration,” showcasing 100 works of art donated during the past five years.

The Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans is marking its 35th anniversary this year. Established in 1976, it laid the foundation for the further development of the arts district in downtown New Orleans. To commemorate its 35th anniversary, CAC has brought together past and present work of 14 artists who exhibited at the CAC during the first years of its existence in an exhibit titled “Then & Now.”

Up and Coming


Before there was air conditioning, the men and women of New Orleans had to resort to wearing white linen to keep cool in the sultry summer heat. This tradition lives on during “White Linen Night” on Aug. 6. People wear white outfits and stroll through art galleries in the Arts District. The post-party is held at the Contemporary Arts Center and is considered a must-attend.

Alternatively, “Dirty White Linen Night” was created to promote the art galleries and antique shops on Royal Street. It is held a week after “White Linen Night,” this year on Aug. 13, and those who attend are asked to wear the linens they might have worn during “White Linen Night” as they peruse the shops.

4. Charleston, S.C.
5. Scottsdale, Ariz.
6. Ann Arbor, Mich.
7. Tampa, Fla.
8. Alexandria, Va.
9. Boulder, Colo.
10. Miami, Fla.
11. Pittsburgh, Pa.
12. Athens, Ga.
13. Providence, R.I.
14. Minneapolis, Minn.
15. Chattanooga, Tenn.
16. Salt Lake City, Utah
17. Colorado Springs, Colo.
18. Honolulu, Hawaii
19. Buffalo, N.Y.
20. Rochester, N.Y.
21. Raleigh, N.C.
22. Cleveland, Ohio
23. Kansas City, Mo.
24. St. Louis, Mo.
25. Cincinnati, Ohio

4 Responses to “Top 25 Mid-Sized Cities for Art”

  1. Thanks for this wonderful information.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Sarasota Among Top 25 Arts Destinations | Apt46
  2. AmericanStyle Magazine names Savannah among the Top 25 Arts Destinations in the United States | Telfair Museums
  3. Savannah, Georgia-Arts Destination | The Stop N Stor Blog

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