Any art lover who has not seen the great galleries of the USA is in for a big surprise. Not only are there so many art museums with so many masterpieces, splendidly displayed in buildings which are often great works of architecture, but usually they are also vital, welcoming institutions where the delight of the visitor is the main priority.
This tour includes every major art gallery from New England down to Washington DC. Many of the very good smaller ones are also featured. The whole range of mainstream western art is represented, from antiquity to the present day. If there is a particular emphasis, it is on the Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists. In addition, there is a continual current of American art and frequent doses of modern and contemporary production.
However full and comprehensive the tour may be in terms of works of art, we have not omitted the opportunity to see something of America beyond the museum doors. There will be some general sightseeing, sometimes with a local expert, and free time for independent exploration. Most of the hotels we have 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 is an historic city with a long-standing reputation for culture and learning. Now a centre of the high-tech revolution, sleek glass towers co-habit with districts of narrow cobbled streets and brick houses and an important set of monuments from the colonial and revolutionary era. The Museum of Fine Arts has a fabulous collection, particular strengths being 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, outstanding particularly for early Italian paintings and Impressionists, and the Busch-Reisinger Museum of German and Nordic painting. Back in Boston, visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Collection, a sumptuous Renaissance-style mansion crammed with magnificent works of art and furnishings. Overnight Boston.
North Adams, Williamstown. Drive through very attractive New England countryside to the Berkshires in the west of Massachusetts. Housed on a vast 19th-century factory campus in North Adams, MASS MoCA is the largest centre for contemporary art in the USA. Williamstown is a small university town with the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, a wonderfully rich and varied collection outstanding for Post-Impressionist paintings, beautifully displayed in a mansion, and a brand new building designed by Tadao Ando, opened in 2014. Overnight Williamstown.
Hartford, New Haven. En route to New York visit the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, America’s oldest public art museum, founded in 1842. In New Haven, the Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art, the largest and most comprehensive display of British art outside the United Kingdom. Continue to New York City arriving early evening. First of four nights here.
New York. Visit the Guggenheim Collection in the famous spiral building (Frank Lloyd Wright), with primarily modern paintings. 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. Walk through Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum, undoubtedly the number one art museum in America, embracing the whole gamut of artistic production from around the world. Magnificent benefactions and inspired curatorship have provided many great works of art and a superb standard of display, particularly the galleries devoted to the Impressionists, Tiepolo, and to English Decorative Arts. See also the Frick Collection, the salubrious Fifth Avenue mansion with a small but brilliant collection of great paintings. Overnight New York.
New York. A morning architectural walk with a local lecturer looking at the Art Deco monuments of midtown Manhattan. In the afternoon drive to The Cloisters set in a delightfully tranquil part of north Manhattan overlooking the Hudson river. A branch of the Met, devoted to art of the Middle Ages and incorporating arcades from five cloisters and other salvaged architecture, it is a marvellous home for sculpture, metalwork, tapestries, stained glass, manuscripts and panel paintings. Overnight New York.
Philadelphia. Drive to Philadelphia. As 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, including a 12th-century cloister, a Robert Adam interior from Berkeley Square and excellent Impressionists. 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, which has the largest collection of his sculpture outside Paris. Overnight Philadelphia.
Baltimore, Washington. Continue south to the seaport of Baltimore. The Walters Art Gallery is an extraordinary and eclectic collection ranging from ancient Egypt to Art Nouveau, with a Raphael, mediaeval stained glass and historic jewellery among the 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 whole 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 for independent visits. Optional visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Further suggestions include the White House, the US Capitol or another of Washington’s many museums: the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (art from southeast Asia) or the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (20th-century painting and sculpture), all branches of the Smithsonian Institution. Drive to Washington Dulles Airport for the flight to London departing at c. 10.30pm.
Arrive Heathrow at c. 11.00am.
Price – per person
Two sharing: £6890 or £6310 without flights. Single occupancy: £8100 or £7520 without flights.
Flights (world traveller) with British Airways (Boeing 747); private coach throughout; hotel accommodation; all breakfasts and 8 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.
We can request flight upgrades, extra nights in the hotel and delay your return flight. Please let us know if you would like us to make these additional arrangements and we will obtain a quote. There is an amendment fee for making these changes.
There may be performances in New York. Details will be available nearer the time.
Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston: elegant hotel near Boston Common. The Orchards, Williamstown: small hotel with a courtyard garden, a retreat from the city scene. The Lucerne, New York: smart boutique hotel close to Central Park. Sheraton Society Hill, Philadelphia: functional but comfortable hotel near the Independence National Historical Park. 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 twenty 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.
Between 12 and 22 participants.
Before booking, please refer to the FCO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting: www.fco.gov.uk.
'First class in all respects. Outstanding input by our lecturer in all ways.'
'An extremely knowledgeable guide who was also good company and caring and thoughtful.'
'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.'
'I was completely happy with the tour. So much I could say. I would particularly like to thank Martin Randall for organising for me to attend Siegfried at the Met.'
'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.'
'The lecturer and tour manager were a most accommodating and brilliant team! Nothing was too much trouble.'
'I always enjoy MR 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!'
'Well thought out programme giving an excellent courage.'
'Well thought out and superbly organised.'