How to Make an Art Fair Part of Your Next Vacation

Posted May 8, 2018 5:29 p.m. EDT

Whether it’s Zonamaco in Mexico City, the Armory Show in New York City or Art Basel, held in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach; and Hong Kong, art fairs are more accessible and popular than ever.

Attending a fair should be a part of any travel itinerary, according to Natasha Schlesinger, art historian and founder of ArtMuse, a company that offers private tours of art fairs in New York City and Europe.

“Art fairs are opportunities for people to see and learn about art just as they would if they were visiting a museum,” she said. “You don’t have to be a buyer to attend.”

Here are a few of her tips to make your visit to an art fair an enjoyable experience.

— Think About the Art You’re Most Interested In

Art fairs are focused on different genres, including contemporary art, old master paintings and photography.

When you decide which fairs to attend, focus on the style of art that you find most appealing.

“Some cities such as New York have so many fairs that selecting which you want to go to can be challenging,” Schlesinger said. “Picking based on art you like will help narrow down the choices.”

— Plan in Advance

You can learn about upcoming fairs in your area (or where you’re vacationing) by visiting art-focused news sites like ARTnews and Artsy. Many fairs take place over a four-day period, Schlesinger said, so it’s worthwhile to plan your visit.

However, entry lines to fairs can be long if you’re buying a ticket on the spot, so she advised buying online in advance.

Also, consider going on a weekday when the crowds are thinner than on the weekends, and if possible browse the fair’s website to get a preview of what you might want to see and how many booths there are.

“The amount of art some fairs have on display can be overwhelming, so if you don’t go in with a plan, you could end up missing the artists you’re most interested in,” Schlesinger said.

— Take Time to Learn About the Art

If there’s a piece or artist that you’re especially drawn to, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer questions even if you have no intentions of buying it, Schlesinger said. “You’re there to explore art and dealers are there to teach you about the art they’re showing,” she said.

Ask about who the artists are, their career trajectory, where they are exhibiting and how their prices have changed in the last few years. Enjoy the fair as a learning experience.

Artfairs also often have additional opportunities to learn about art, art history, the current state of the art market and other aspects of the art world through panels, lectures and movie screenings.

You can find out what’s available before you go on the fair’s website, or by visiting the general information desk when you arrive.