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Queens: New York’s upcoming artistic hub


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New York has always been renowned as an artistic and cultural hub of America and the world – and thanks to social media people are becoming more exposed to the vibrancy of each borough’s unique talents.


Socrates Sculpture Park

Brooklyn was long considered a key creative hub of the city, but in recent years Queens has risen in prominence as an equally formidable melting pot of innovation that is now being recognised on the global stage. Whether it is graffiti art, film, fashion, or drag, Queens is a hub of abundant talent that you don’t want to miss…

The Museums and Galleries

When it comes to museums and galleries in Queens, you are really spoilt for choice. MoMA PS1 is an unmissable hub for contemporary art, standing as one of the oldest and largest contemporary art institutions in the US. It is a stronghold for emerging artists, supporting and catalysing innovation in contemporary art. Plus, in the summer PS1 showcases performances from great bands, DJs and producers.

Queens Museum is another iconic institution, which celebrates decorative arts and the creative work of local residents. Exhibits like, ‘Hey! Ho! Lets Go: Ramones and the birth of punk’, and, ‘Mother Tongues: Endangered Languages in NYC and Beyond’ showcase the borough’s rich cultural legacy.

Queens Museum, 2014. Photo by David Sundberg, Esto. Courtesy Queens Museum

The Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, is a cornerstone of the Queens artistic scene – the only museum of its kind dedicated solely to the legacy of movies and TV. Astoria was a key location in the early development of motion pictures, and is home to Kaufman Astoria Studios, where shows like Orange is the New Black and Sesame Street are produced. The museum showcases this rich local history along with artifacts including costumes from Mrs. Doubtfire and set models for movies like The Silence of the Lambs.

Alongside these reputable institutions are a variety of arts organisations that support burgeoning local artists. The Local Project is a non-profit arts organisation that, since 2003, has hosted over 400 exhibits with 2,000 artists from around the world, along with offering classes and mentoring. Topaz Arts is a rising star in the Queens art scene - a creative development centre that hosts art shows ranging from sculpture to live performance.  And you can’t talk about Queens’ art without mentioning the Knockdown Center or The Flux Factory, two hybrid galleries and artists collectives which host exciting exhibits, talks, and performances geared towards ‘unusual projects and collaborations’.

The Stage

Queens’ theatre and live entertainment scene is as rich in talent as its museums and galleries. The Queens Theatre showcases some of the best performative talent in New York and beyond, with a broad range of upcoming productions including classics like ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, romantic musical showcases like ‘Broadway Valentine’, and vibrant dance performance like ‘Tango Fire’.

Queens is also known for showcasing some of the best up and coming comedy talent in New York, with fantastic stand-up and improv performances which you can find at bars such as Comedy Cellar, The Standing Room and The Creek and the Cave. Last but not least, you can’t forget the legendary and fabulous queens of Queens, carrying on the borough’s vibrant drag heritage and performing some of the most unforgettable shows in the city at venues like The Albatross and The Icon Bar.

The Shops

Not only can you go see amazing art in Queens, you can buy it too. All around the borough you’ll find shops that sell unique clothing, furniture, jewellery and more, made by local artisans. There are too many to list here, but some notable shops include The Brass Owl, which hosts local designers and quirky jewellery, and Inside Astoria, a Ditmars district shop which features art and photography from the community. Lockwood Shop is another memorable Queens’ vendor, selling handmade home good and gifts along with hosting creative events and workshops.

The Outdoors

Just walking down the street of Queens you can find some incredible art; the borough is renowned for its abundance of artistic murals and graffiti hotspots. You can discover the city’s street art for free or take a three hour exploration around Queens and Brooklyn with Brooklyn Street Art Graffiti Private Tour by Foot and Subway.

Socrates Sculpture Park

On a sunny day, you can enjoy some free art at Socrates Sculpture Park, transformed from an abandoned landfill in the 1980s into an open studio and exhibit space for artists. A rotating collection of large-scale sculptures decorate this park, along with a greenmarket on Sundays and free yoga and tai chi classes, nourishing the artistic mind and soul.

To find out more about the artistic hubs and happenings in Queens and New York City, along with everything else the Big Apple has to offer, check out

This article first appeared in The National Student's Easter 2018 print issue. See the full magazine here

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