Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Art

June 2012 | BY | Issue 80, Summer 2012

The top 25 mid-size cities for art for 2012 are:

1. St. Petersburg, Fla.

A 20-foot sculpture dominates the entrance to the Chihuly Collection, located a mile east of the Morean Arts Center. CREDIT: Al Hurley Morean Arts Center

Once again, St. Petersburg takes the top spot in the Mid-Size Cities category for its world-famous arts institutions and top-ranked galleries, along with beaches and a lively public and performing arts scene.

Now through Oct. 14, the Museum of Fine Arts presents “Global + Local: Studio and Contemporary Glass on Florida’s West Coast,” featuring more than 60 works from artists including William Morris, Therman Statom, Michael Glancy and Bertil Vallien. The Salvador Dali museum draws special exhibitions from its permanent collection of almost 1,500 Dali paintings, drawing and sculpture.

The city also boasts the Chihuly Collection, a stunning assemblage of Dale Chihuly’s artwork in a breathtaking 10,000-square-foot setting.

2. Dayton, Ohio

Plein air painters are a common sight during the summer in Dayton’s lively Oregon Arts District.

Dayton is known for its aerospace and manufacturing industries, but this Ohio city also boasts an active arts scene. AmericanStyle readers felt so passionate about Dayton that they wrote it in on the official ballot, pushing it to the No. 2 Mid-Size Cities spot. Says reader Phil Chick, the Dayton Art Institute is “one of the best art museums for a city of its size in the country.” And nearby, the Robert & Elaine Stein Galleries at Wright State University holds a collection of contemporary art from the likes of Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons and Lucien Freud.

The prime neighborhood for the city’s arts and culture is the Oregon Arts District. It features visual and performing arts venues and galleries, and hosts First Friday gallery hops. The Cityfolk Festival, June 30-July 1, offers a lively mix of arts, music and dance, plus fireworks on the closing night.

2. Tampa, Fla.

The Henry B. Plant Museum started out as a lavish 511-room hotel, built by the railroad magnate in 1891.

In addition to boasting an exciting nightlife, Tampa is home to a number of prestigious art and cultural museums and institutions. This summer, they’ve got plenty in store for the arts traveler.

Until Sept. 23, the Tampa Museum of Art features an exhibition of work by New York-based artist Erik Levine, whose sculptures and video installations question the definitions and differences of art and utilitarian objects. Through Sept. 16, the museum is also showcasing “A Hundred Years—A Hundred Chairs: Masterworks from the Vitra Design Museum,” with examples from the collections of the German design museum in Weil am Rhein.

To view some elegant Orientalism, visit the Henry B. Plant Museum’s “Japan and the Victorians” exhibit through Dec. 23. Objects in the show point out the distinct influence Japan had on 19th Century American art.

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

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