Art says a lot about a place, and practically every popular destination in the world is home to a number of museums and galleries that document the past or that highlight local creative minds.
Whilst many galleries tend to be major attractions, housed in typically grand buildings on the tourist trail, there are also some lesser-known off-beat galleries popping up all over the world. Some aren’t even galleries in the conventional sense, but are places that showcase art in a non-traditional way.
Featured image: Court House metro station in Stockholm, Sweden by Tobias Lindman
Nuclear Bunker, Bosnia
A place that was once used to protect the Yugoslavian president from nuclear attacks during the cold war has been converted into an art gallery tucked underground. The space was the largest military complex in the region but now, instead of fear and war, it features fantastical artworks and watercolours. In a move to create something peaceful from the ashes of conflict, the bunker is now home to pieces by 44 artists from all over the world.
The Subway, Stockholm
Subways aren’t generally the most attractive places. However, anyone travelling around underneath the Swedish capital for the first time is for a pleasant surprise. The mass of connecting tunnels, stations, and escalators is considered to be the largest art museum in the world. Below ground, commuters, passengers, and visitors are treated to mosaic-decorated walls and ceilings, quirky art installations, and colourful murals; it certainly makes waiting for a train more bearable!
The Underbelly, Paris
The Underbelly Art Project sees talented street artists descend beneath a city to create illegal works of art on the walls of its disused subterranean tunnels. New York was the first city to receive the guerrilla art treatment (2010). A year later, the international artist collective turned their attention to Paris. Pedestrians traipsing through the streets of the city had no idea that below them, four stories underground, an art gallery was taking shape within a labyrinth of abandoned tunnels. In fact, it wasn’t just the pedestrians who were oblivious, but everyone else except the ten artists whose work was on display, the three organisers, two photographers, and one writer who documented the entire show.
Art on Track, Chicago
Every year, Art on Track hands over a working six-car train to a selected artist for a one-night makeover. Once the train-turned-exhibition-space has been decked out in whatever way the artist sees fit, it’s taken for a spin around the city, allowing visitors (or passengers) to see the work in motion.
Ndebele Houses, South Africa
South Africa is full of communities that place heavy emphasis on art and creative practices, and the Ndebele peoples are no different. They paint the exteriors of their houses and out-buildings with bright linear patterns which have been passed down from generation to generation. All the work is done freehand which, when you see the meticulous, straight-edged designs, is an astonish exhibition of skill. There are a number of tours in South Africa that take visitors to small, creative communities and offer an insight into this colourful culture.
Truck Art, Pakistan
If you’re wandering the streets of Pakistan, you will no doubt catch sight of the colourful truck art that dominates the roads there. The method is a long-held tradition in the country that began as a sentimental way for truck drivers to remember home, but has now become a huge art phenomenon and an important cultural tradition.