Rochester Art Guide

There are five art spaces in Geneseo, and while the exhibits at Lockhart, Lederer and Bridge Galleries are lovely, Rochester’s over 50 galleries, museums and artist studios are worth the drive. Options abound in the mini art mecca, and exploring all of them could fill the four years’ worth of weekends that make up a bachelor’s degree. For those who have a little less time on their hands, here’s an abbreviated guide to Rochester’s most notable art locales.


Artisan Works

Artisan Works eludes a simple description as museum, gallery or artists’ studio. It is more aptly described as an immersive experience. The galleries are not curated traditionally, but rather revolve around themes that go beyond one artist or time period, and visitors can touch everything. Artisan Works may be the only place where galleries devoted to Marilyn Monroe and Frank Lloyd Wright are located in the same building. It is also allows anyone to interact with artists in public studios. Artisan Works is devoted to the unexpected, creating playful installations that defy the media, subject matter and styles that white cube galleries are known for. It is a great place for the uninitiated art appreciator.


George Eastman House

The George Eastman House is a photography museum located in the early-20th century home of one of photography’s most influential businessmen. It combines a historic house with a major collection of photographic artifacts and artwork. George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company out of Rochester in 1888. Kodak quickly grew into an enormous business, which became known for popularizing roll film and personal snapshot photography, the great-grandmother of selfies. The house opened as a museum 15 years after Eastman’s death in 1932, and has since amassed a large collection of international photographs and films. The museum is most memorable for its near daily film screenings at the Dryden Theater, its collection of antique cameras and an enormous elephant head on the wall in the conservatory.


Memorial Art Gallery

MAG was designed for students. It is associated with the University of Rochester and houses a collection that runs the gamut from mummies and medieval armor to Surrealist painting and postmodern sculpture. The museum also recently completed its 10-acre Centennial Sculpture Garden with site-specific outdoor sculptures by both Rochester-based and internationally known artists Wendell Castle, Jackie Ferrara, Tom Otterness and Albert Paley. MAG presents points of intersection between local art and craft, sweetening the deal with discounted admission and tapas on Thursday nights.


Rochester Contemporary Art Center

RoCo is deceptively small, but it plays an enormous role in the community art scene. The gallery exhibits work by local as well as national and international contemporary artists. Perhaps best-known for hosting Rochester’s “6x6” fundraiser––which allows anyone to submit work in any media on a six inch by six inch canvas and sells the works anonymously––the gallery is a lively center for Rochester art events.

Another good place to start may be Rochester First Fridays, which are also organized by RoCo. They open up the city’s art scene one night a month free of charge. The next one is on Friday Feb. 6, and most spaces are open from 6-9 p.m. Check out for more information.


Photos by Chelsea Butkowski/Editor-In-Chief