Inside Fotografiska, NYC’s New Unorthodox, Six-Story Art Mecca

One part art museum, one part eatery, all parts worth a visit

Fotografiska New York
Ellen von Unwerth’s exhibition Devotion at Fotografiska New York.

From the Guggenheim to the New Museum to the Whitney, art institutions in New York primarily attract two types of people: those who willingly admit they have no idea what they’re looking at, and those who lie about it. Internal dialogues can range from “Am I supposed to feel something?” to “What is this?” to simply “I don’t get it.”

Which is to say that even to the well-trained art-gazer, museums can feel unnecessarily stuffy and intimidating. 

But NYC’s newest cultural hub, Fotografiska, will make even the most self-professed philistines feel right at home. It feels warm, welcoming and, well, it feels really cool

Spanning six stories, the Stockholm-come-NYC outpost has breathed new life into the Flatiron’s historic Church Mission Building thanks to the curation of founders Jan and Per Broman. The original Swedish location has hosted shows from photography legends like Guy Bourdin, David LaChapelle and Sally Mann, but the gallery walls here juxtapose pivotal works with snaps from emerging artists fresh out of art school.

The museum should top the charts for your next date-night itinerary, and when you arrive, here’s a sneak peek at the nooks and crannies you don’t want to miss. 


Get High 

Travel to the top of the museum and you’ll find a lounge-like living room that’s high-minded in design but also comfortable. The space is home to rotating installations, but will also host an upcoming event series with lectures, concerts and more. First up on the calendar on January 21st is Danny’s Clinch’s Amplifier. An iconic music photographer who has flashed shutters at legends like Johnny Cash, Tupac Shakur, Bjork and Bruce Springsteen, Clinch will be exhibiting some of his most essential works. Tickets available here

Devotion! 30 Years of Photographing Women, Ellen Von Unwerth (Instagram/@fotografiska.ny)

Meet in the Middle 

On stories three, four and five you’ll find the tectonic heart of Fotografiska New York. Expect contemporary photography galore, with an opening act that features solo exhibitions from AnastasiaTaylor-Lind, Helene Schmitz, Adi Nes and Tawny Chatmon. The largest display, Devotion! 30 Years of Photographing Women, comes from Ellen von Unwerth. The German photographer, director and former model has made an indelible impression on her viewing public with an epic catalogue of powerful and intoxicating images, from Kate Moss posing with David Bowie to Rhianna coiled in a tangle of barbed wire. As you meander from floor-to-floor, you’ll note that the air is alive with soundtracks that accompany many of the exhibitions. It adds up to a holistic experience that brings already riveting images to life. 

Amplifier, by photographer and film director Danny Clinch (Instagram/@fotografiska.ny)

Stay Grounded

The first floor’s well-appointed Café is prime for snagging a tartine, coffee or wine and deliberating over the visual intake. It’s also adjacent a finely curated shop with prints, trinkets and books that are destined to handsome up a coffee table near you. By night, the place to see and be scene is in the restored cathedral alongside Fotografiska, V, a seductive and sophisticated cocktail lounge. And you can also dine at Verōnika, a refined bar and restaurant with Stephen Starr at the helm. Expect Austrian- and French-influenced fare; if we were the bettin’ type — which we are — we’d recommend you do yourself a solid and make a reservation now

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