New York City has many world class museums – The Met, MOMA, The Guggenheim, etc. I love exploring these museums when visiting the city, however, on my last visit, I heard about an open air art “museum” that not only has amazing artwork, but is also FREE.
5 Pointz in Long Island City, Queens, is not an art museum in the traditional sense. It isn’t along the legendary ‘Museum Mile’ on the east side of Central Park, it doesn’t feature any of the Old Masters’ paintings, and the exhibits are extremely temporary in nature as new artists paint over what the old artists have done.
Instead, 5 Pointz is an outdoor community art space where urban artists are free to create their masterpieces on the walls of an old warehouse. It is a great spot to take anyone who criticizes New York City as a mass of drab, grey concrete with little or no color; 5 Pointz is anything but drab.
Contrary to most street art locations, artists are actually encouraged to paint here. Interested artists contact site management to procure an artistic space, pay a small fee for the upkeep of 5 Pointz, and then have creative reign over the designs they create.
The duration of time the artwork spends on the walls of the warehouse depends on factors such as the location, complexity, and artist. Some pieces are left longer than others, but ultimately they will all be replaced by a new piece of art.
This makes all the art at 5 Pointz very temporary in nature. Because of this, no two visits are the same. Artists are constantly working over old pieces of art, making 5 Pointz a constantly changing and morphing building that looks different every day. I saw this firsthand as an artist began work on a new piece during my visit.
5 Pointz has become somewhat of a legend for street artists. Graffiti artists come from all over the world to paint here. Japan, UK, Germany, and of course, New York City have all been represented on the walls of 5 Pointz.
The primary area of 5 Pointz is a large courtyard surrounded by the warehouse on three sides. And the art isn’t limited to just the buildings in 5 Pointz – in some cases it even finds it’s way down to the ground in the courtyard.
Unfortunately, many of the best pieces are only visible up close from the rooftop of the lower level of the warehouse which isn’t accessible to most visitors. However, a great view of this side of 5 Pointz can be seen from the 7 train, a common method of transportation to 5 Pointz.
5 Pointz is free to visitors, though paid guided tours are available as well. It’s only a short train ride away from Manhattan, making it more accessible from Midtown than many other portions of the borough of Manhattan.
New York City has some truly world class museums. But if you’re visiting New York City and tired of shuffling through stuffy galleries or paying high museum entrance fees, head for 5 Pointz for a breath of fresh air.