Modern to Contemporary: Art and Architecture in the USA
Travel to three key American cities where icons from Frank Lloyd Wright to Mies van der Rohe and Alexander Calder shaped the world’s impressions and understanding of modern art, architecture and design.
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 another of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic designs, Fallingwater, and enjoy visits to The Carnegie Museum of Art and the Andy Warhol Museum.
In New York, enjoy a private tour of the Philip Johnson Glass House and visit the stunning Storm King sculpture park and the Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries in the Hudson Valley.
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. At 18:00, meet tour leader Anthony Burke for a welcome briefing, followed by a welcome dinner with Anthony and fellow tour members.
This morning, travel to Oak Park for a private guided tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio. Learn about the Prairie style of architecture in the studio where it was created. Then, join Anthony on a walking tour of the surrounding Prairie style homes in the historic district, ending at the heritage-listed Unity Temple which exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright’s theory of organic design.
After lunch, return to Downtown Chicago for a cruise on the Chicago River to appreciate this dynamic city of art, architecture, science and industry from the water.
Today, travel to Plano to visit Farnsworth House, 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. With a focus on relationship to landscape, the pioneering design of its continuous glass walls allows the interior to be transparent to the surrounding site. At Farnsworth House the architect was able to realise spatial and structural ideals that had not been possible in larger projects. As such, the architecture of the house represents the culmination of his minimalist expression of structure and space.
Return to the hotel in the evening.
In the morning, join Anthony for a talk before driving 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, return to the hotel for some time at leisure. In the evening enjoy a performance by the world-renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of acclaimed German conductor Christian Thielemann, featuring Bruckner’s last completed symphony, the so-called ‘Bruckner 8’.
This morning, enjoy a guided walking tour under the auspices of the Chicago Architecture Foundation of the city’s historic skyscrapers.
After lunch, stroll to the Art Institute of Chicago and explore 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.
The remainder of the afternoon and evening is 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 followed by some time at leisure. In the early evening enjoy a talk by Anthony before dinner at a nearby restaurant.
In the morning transfer to the Carnegie Museum of Art for a private tour 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 lunch at leisure, spend the afternoon exploring the Andy Warhol Museum. Enrich your knowledge on a private tour of this 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.
In the afternoon, stroll back to the hotel for an evening at leisure.
This 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 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.
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and spend a morning exploring 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.
Enjoy lunch in the museum café before transferring to Pittsburgh airport for a late-afternoon flight to New York (included in tour price). On arrival, transfer to the hotel, followed by an evening at leisure.
After an introductory talk by Anthony, 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.
After free time for lunch, continue to Central Park for an architecture-themed walking tour with Anthony. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure.
This morning travel 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.
Continue to what is arguably America’s most impressive outdoor art space, the Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Valley. 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.
In the afternoon, return to the hotel for an evening at leisure with the option to enjoy a performance by the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
This morning travel to New Canaan, Connecticut to visit Phillip Johnson’s fabled Glass House. Renowned for its innovative use of materials, the house, completed in 1949, is emblematic of architecture that provides seamless integration into the landscape. The property includes two galleries filled with paintings and sculptures, a library, and a pavilion in a pond. Enjoy an extensive private guided tour of the Glass House and galleries. The art contained within the galleries is from the architect’s personal collection and for the most part by artists he knew well.
Return to the hotel in the afternoon for an evening at leisure.
Begin the day with a transfer to the West Side of Manhattan for 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.
Following lunch at leisure, transfer to Ground Zero to visit the 9/11 Memorial located at the site of the former World Trade Centre. The memorial contains twin reflecting pools nearly an acre in size each and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. Continue to 8 Spruce Street in the Financial District. Learn about the Frank Gehry-designed masterpiece, which is one of the tallest residential towers in the world.
This evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner with Anthony and fellow tour members.
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, including flights, private transfers and travel insurance (a condition of travel).
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
19 August 2022
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
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 dinners
- Economy Class flights from Chicago to Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh to New York, including hotel/airport transfers
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Anthony Burke
- 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)
Chicago – Renaissance Chicago Downtown ****+
Pittsburgh – Fairmont Pittsburgh ****+
New York – Renaissance Times Square ****+
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.