Modern Art and Architecture in America

Visit Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York, where 20th century American Modernism produced art and architecture that shaped the world.

As the 19th century passed into history, America refashioned itself from a wild frontier into an industrial and artistic powerhouse in its growing cities. In Chicago, explore some of the great works of American Modernist painting at the Art Institute and visit homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. In Pittsburgh, visit Clayton Mansion and the Frick Museum, and delve into the collections of the Rodin Museum and Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. In New York, enjoy a private tour of the Museum of Modern Art and take the rare opportunity to visit Dia:Beacon, which houses a unique collection of American Minimalism and Land Art.


This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.


Suggested departure from Australia or New Zealand on Qantas/American Airlines flights arriving in Chicago in the evening. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.

On arrival in Chicago, make your way to the hotel and check in.

In the morning, join Jaime for a welcome briefing and then walk to the riverside for a cruise on the Chicago River to acquaint yourself with this dynamic city of art, architecture, science and industry.

After the cruise, enjoy some free time for lunch before embarking on an afternoon tour of the city’s historic skyscrapers under the auspices of the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon, followed by a special welcome dinner in the evening.


Travel to Robie House for a guided tour of the interior of the edifice. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1909 and 1910, Robie House is considered the finest example of the Prairie School, the distinctive Midwestern architectural style of horizontal lines, flat roofs, overhanging eaves and restrained ornamentation which gives character to this region of America.

After lunch, continue to Farnsworth House in Plano, one of the masterpieces of the International Style. Commissioned in the 1940s by a hardworking Chicago nephrologist to be her rural retreat, Farnsworth House is one of the signal achievements of German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Return to the hotel in the evening.


After a morning talk by Jaime, stroll to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of America’s oldest and largest art collections. The institute’s 300,000-strong collection includes such masterpieces as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte – 1884, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The latest expansion of the institute was designed by famous Italian architect and engineer Renzo Piano.

After free time for lunch, walk to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a matinée concert under the baton of Ricardo Muti, featuring Wolfgang Mozart’s Kyrie in E minor, Luigi Cherubini’s Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn and Gioacchino Rossini’s Stabat Mater. The evening is at leisure.


After a morning at leisure, check out from the hotel and transfer to Chicago O’Hare Airport for a flight to Pittsburgh (included in tour price).

On arrival in Pittsburgh, transfer to the hotel and check in, before dinner at a local restaurant.


In the morning, travel to Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous architectural masterpiece. Constructed atop a waterfall on Bear Run in 1935 for a wealthy department store owner, Fallingwater has been labelled “the best all-time work of American architecture” by the American Institute of Architects. Enjoy a guided tour of the home before a light lunch at the Fallingwater Café.

In the afternoon, continue to Kentuck Knob, another example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s extraordinarily creative approach to domestic architecture. Built between 1953 and 1956, the crescent-shaped house is partially recessed into the southern side of the 620 metre-high Kentuck Knob, and is surrounded by 32 hectares of forested land, blending architecture with nature. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.


Enjoy a morning talk by Jaime before departing for the Frick Art and Historical Center, a 2.2-hectare cultural district built around the art collection of 19th century industrialist Henry Clay Frick. The artworks in this extensive collection include Mediæval Italian devotional paintings, Renaissance and Baroque bronzes, works by 19th century French and Dutch Realists and Impressionists, and many more.

Continue to the Carnegie Museum of Art for lunch followed by free time to explore the museum. Founded in 1895 by Scottish-American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie with a mission to collect ‘the Old Masters of tomorrow’, the museum holds one of the world’s greatest collections of Modernist and contemporary art.


After breakfast, check out from the hotel and spend a morning exploring the Andy Warhol Museum, entirely dedicated to the Pittsburgh-born paragon of Pop Art. The museum’s collection encompasses 900 paintings, over 1,000 unique prints, 77 sculptures, 4,000 photographs and more than 4,300 film and video artworks.

Enjoy free time for lunch in the museum before transferring to Pittsburgh airport for a late afternoon flight to Philadelphia (included in tour price). In the evening, transfer to the hotel in Philadelphia, followed by dinner.


Enjoy a talk by Jaime in the morning, and then travel to the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Auguste Rodin’s works outside Paris. Pass the morning and early afternoon amongst drawings, prints, letters, books and bronze castings by the great Modernist sculptor – including the seminal works The Thinker, The Kiss, The Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais­.

In the afternoon, stroll across to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a guided tour of its vast collection, which extends to more than 240,000 works of European, Asian and American art. Of particular note is the museum’s collection of Modernist and contemporary artwork and design, including paintings, ceramics, textiles and glasswork. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon for an evening at leisure.


After breakfast, check out from the hotel and visit the Barnes Foundation, whose $25 billion-dollar collection includes some of the masterworks of Impressionism and Modernism, with paintings by Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, Paul Gaugin, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani.

Enjoy some free time for lunch before driving to New York City. On arrival in New York, check in to the hotel and enjoy dinner this evening in a local restaurant.


Travel to what is arguably America’s most impressive outdoor art space, the Storm King Art Center in Hudson Valley in Upstate New York. The 200-hectare sculpture park was founded in 1960 as a museum for paintings of the Hudson River School, but grew to become the nation’s premier venue for contemporary sculpture, featuring works by Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Roy Lichtenstein and Sol LeWitt, set against the impressive background of Schunemunk Mountain.

Enjoy a boxed lunch at Storm King before continuing to Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries on the banks of the Hudson River. Housed in a former biscuit box factory, the 15,000-square-metre Riggio Galleries exhibit the Dia Foundation’s vast collection of contemporary artwork from the 1960s to the present. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon before an evening at leisure.


After an introductory talk by Jaime, drive to the Whitney Museum of American Art, whose 21,000-strong collection of paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, photographs, films and video represent one of the nation’s treasure houses of contemporary art. After free time for lunch in the Whitney, take a walking tour of the High Line, an urban park created from a converted above-ground section of the New York Central Railroad. The High Line snakes above 2.33 km of Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, and is a charming example of how the city constantly re-invents itself by re-purposing its history.

In the afternoon, explore the Guggenheim Museum, whose impressive collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modernist and contemporary artwork make it one of New York’s most enduringly popular attractions.


Begin the day with a special pre-opening guided tour of the Museum of Modern Art, one of the world’s most influential institutions of Modernist art. Its 150,000 artworks are almost a roll-call of the great images of the modern era: Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night, Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, Jackson Pollock’s One: Number 31, 1950, Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl and Jasper John’s Flag.

Lunch and the rest of the day are at leisure to continue exploring on your own, perhaps visiting the historic skyscrapers of Midtown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Neue Gallerie.


In the morning, drive to Brooklyn Museum for a guided tour of some of the highlights of its 1.5 million-piece collection, which includes works by Winslow Homer, Max Weber, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Rockwell and Mark Rothko.

Enjoy a special farewell lunch with Jaime and fellow travellers at the River Café, nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge on the banks of the gentle East River. After lunch, enjoy the option of a post-prandial stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.


Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast.

For those returning to Australia or New Zealand, suggested return flights on Qantas/American Airlines departing in the late afternoon/evening. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your travel arrangements.


Per person, twin-share

AUD 12,950

Single Supplement*

AUD 2,750

Deposit per person (at time of booking)

AUD 500

*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.

Final payment due

20 April 2018

Tour code


Fitness level

Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.

Suggested airline

Qantas/American Airlines
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.


In order to visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme, all Australian and New Zealand passport holders require an ESTA pre-authorisation application (completed online in advance of travel).

Tour price includes

  • Accommodation in centrally located 4 star superior hotels with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including wines with dinner and farewell lunch
  • Economy Class flights from Chicago to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, including hotel/airport transfers on either side
  • Lectures and talks with your tour leader
  • Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Transportation throughout on comfortable air-conditioned coaches
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers
  • Hotel porterage (one piece per person)

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
  • Airport/hotel transfers on tour arrival and departure
  • Airport porterage
  • Items of a personal nature, including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
  • Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)


Your hotels
Chicago – The Palmer House Hilton ****+
Pittsburgh – Fairmont Pittsburgh ****
Philadelphia – Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia ****+
New York – Westhouse Hotel New York ****

NB: Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.