Any art lover who has not seen the great galleries of the USA is in for a big surprise. Not only are they often themselves great works of architecture, brimful of masterpieces, but they are also vital, welcoming institutions where the delight of the visitor is the main priority.
This tour includes every major gallery from New England to Washington DC. Many exceptional smaller ones are also featured. The whole range of mainstream western art is represented, from antiquity to the present. If there is a particular emphasis, it is on American art, Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. There are frequent doses of modern and contemporary production, too.
However comprehensive the tour in terms of works of art, we have not omitted the opportunity also to see something of America beyond the museum doors. There is some general sightseeing, sometimes with a local expert, and free time for independent exploration. Most of the hotels selected are within walking distance of the main museums and historic centres.
Fly at c. 11.15am from London Heathrow to Boston (direct, British Airways), arriving at c. 1.45pm (time in the air: c. 7 hours). Visit Trinity Church, opposite the hotel. First of three nights in Boston.
Boston. Founded in 1630, Boston has a long-standing reputation for culture and learning. Now a centre of the high-tech revolution, sleek glass towers sit alongside districts of narrow cobbled streets and brick houses, with an important set of monuments from the colonial and revolutionary era. The Museum of Fine Arts has a fabulous collection, with particular strengths in the Barbizon School, American art, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. An afternoon walking tour of historic Boston. Overnight Boston.
Cambridge, Boston. Separated from Boston by the Charles River, Cambridge is the home of Harvard University. Visit the University Art Museums, which include the long-established Fogg Museum, with its outstanding early Italian paintings and Impressionists, and the Busch-Reisinger Museum of German and Nordic painting. Back in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Collection comprises magnificent works of art and furnishings, housed in a sumptuous Renaissance-style mansion. Overnight Boston.
North Adams, Williamstown. Drive through attractive New England countryside to the Berkshires in the west of Massachusetts. A vast 19th-century factory campus in North Adams, is the location of MASS MoCA, the largest centre for contemporary art in the US. Williamstown, a small university town, boasts the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute. Its rich and varied collection, beautifully displayed in a mansion and a brand new building designed by Tadao Ando, includes outstanding Post-Impressionist paintings. Overnight Pittsfield.
Hartford, New Haven. En route to New York we stop at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, founded in 1842 and America’s oldest public art museum. In New Haven, the Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art, presents the largest and most comprehensive display of British art outside the UK. Continue to New York City arriving early evening. First of four nights here.
New York. Visit the Guggenheim Collection in Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous spiral building, housing primarily modern paintings. The Metropolitan Museum is undoubtedly the number one art museum in America, embracing the height of artistic production from around the world, bolstered by magnificent benefactions and inspired curatorship. There is a chance to visit the Neue Galerie, dedicated to late 19th and early 20th century Austrian and German art with works by Beckmann, Kandinsky, Klee, Klimt and Schiele. Overnight New York.
New York. A morning architectural walk with a local lecturer explores the Art Deco monuments of midtown Manhattan. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) houses some of the greatest paintings of the 20th century in its beautifully enlarged Manhattan home. Overnight New York.
New York. A morning visit to the Frick Collection, the salubrious Fifth Avenue mansion with a small but brilliant collection of master paintings. Free time may take you to the art museums on the Upper East Side (the Met Breuer or the Jewish Museum) or to the Cloisters, a branch of the Met, devoted to art of the Middle Ages. An optional afternoon visit takes in Lower Manhattan, where the Whitney relocated its collection of 20th- and 21st-century American to a new building designed by Renzo Piano in 2015. Take a short stroll along a section of the High Line, the linear park on an elevated section of a disused rail track formerly known as the Western Side Line. Overnight New York.
Philadelphia. Drive to Philadelphia. Historically the nation’s most important art school, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts has accumulated a fine collection of American art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the third-largest museum in the country, has a wide-ranging collection that encompasses a 12th-century cloister, a Robert Adam interior from Berkeley Square and excellent Impressionist works. First of two nights in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia. The Barnes Foundation, one of the world’s largest private collections of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists housed in a new, state-of-the-art gallery in the heart of Philadelphia’s arts district. Some free time in the city: explore the Independence National Historical Park or visit the Rodin Museum, displaying the largest collection of his sculpture outside Paris. Overnight Philadelphia.
Baltimore, Washington. Continue south to the seaport of Baltimore. Ranging from ancient Egypt to Art Nouveau, the Walters Art Gallery is an extraordinary and eclectic collection of outstanding items. The Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland’s largest art museum, houses the Cone Collection, a group of 500 works by Matisse, and an impressive sculpture garden. Drive on to Washington for the first of two nights.
Washington. A capital conceived and built on a truly grand scale. At its heart lies the Mall, a two-mile-long park with many monuments and museums. Foremost among them is the National Gallery of Art, with a major collection representing the spectrum of western painting; the East Wing (architect: I.M. Pei) contains modern works. Other visits include the Phillips Collection, America’s first museum of modern art, and the Freer Gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution, with a fine Asian collection and Whistler’s Peacock Room. Overnight Washington.
Washington. A free day. Optional visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Further suggestions include the White House, the US Capitol, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (National Museum of Asian Art), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (20th-century painting and sculpture) or all branches of the Smithsonian Institution. Drive to Washington Dulles Airport for the flight to London departing at c. 10.20pm.
Arrive Heathrow at c. 10.30am.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £7,210 or £6,660 without flights. Single occupancy: £8,690 or £8,140 without flights.
Flights (world traveller) with British Airways (Boeing 747); private coach throughout; hotel accommodation; all breakfasts and 7 dinners with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes (federal, state, city and airport); the services of the lecturer and local guides where used.
British citizens can apply for a visa waiver. We will advise on the process.If you have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya or Somalia since March 2011 you are not eligible for the waiver and will need to apply for a visa.
There may be performances in New York. Details will be available nearer the time.
Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston: elegant hotel near Boston Common. Hotel-on-North, Pittsfield: a boutique hotel full of character and individuality. The Michelangelo, New York: a smart and comfortable boutique hotel located between Times Square and MoMA. Kimpton Monaco, Philadelphia: elegant and comfortable hotel near the Independence Hall. Sofitel Lafayette Square, Washington: modern hotel, well located for the major monuments.
You should be prepared to walk. Within Washington and New York we reach some of the museums on foot, journeys of up to 20 minutes or more, though taxis can be used. Within the museums, there will be a lot of walking and standing around. Average distance by coach per day: 49 miles.
Are you fit enough to join the tour?
Between 12 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.
'Mary Lynn Riley was a personable, knowledgeable pro who interacted repeatedly with every participant individually and with the group learnedly. A gem!'
'I learned a lot about American art, and the museums and galleries were sublime.'
'First class in all respects. Outstanding input by our lecturer in all ways.'
'The content of the tour was fantastic – intensive but a joy and would not have wanted to miss any aspect included in this tour.'
'This is my first Martin Randall experience. I hope there will be many more.'
'As usual, an outstanding tour. We have seen so much art I seriously wonder there is any in the rest of the world.'
'Nothing short of magnificent.'
'The tour exceeded our expectations.'
'The itinerary was full, but very interesting and well paced.'
'I always enjoy MRT trips. Everything is taken care of and as a single traveller I don’t feel isolated.'
'I make a great effort to attend MRT tours from Australia - says it all!'