When my friend Barb invited me to meet her in Beacon, NY to go to a modern art museum I sort of sneered and said that I’d love to see her and the museum was a good excuse. What I didn’t know was that sleepy Beacon, NY has turned itself into a hip mecca for art and artists. Metro North provides hourly train service from Grand Central to Beacon, it’s 1 hour and 25 minutes, following the scenic Hudson River north. A short and well-marked walk up the hill takes you to DIA:Beacon. The building housing the Riggio Gallery is an old Nabisco box factory, with hardwood floors, indirect lighting provided by original skylights and some windows. It would be a great place for a concert, dance or a roller rink. It is huge – 240,000 square feet of naturally lit exhibition space! And on the day we went, it was also pretty chilly, so dress accordingly and do NOT check your coat and wear your walking shoes.

Dia Art Foundation is internationally recognized as one of the world’s most influential contemporary art institutions. It was established in 1974.  “Dia” a Greek word meaning “through,” emphasizes the the foundation’s role of support for visionary artistic projects that might not otherwise be realized because of their scale or ambition.

“Dia’s founders, Heiner Friedrich and Philippa de Menil, wished to extend the boundaries of the traditional museum to respond to the needs of the generation of artists whose work matured and became prominent during the 1960s and 1970s. Ever since, Dia’s mission has been to commission, support, and present site-specific long-term installations and single-artists exhibitions to the public.”

There is a larger than a gymnasium room of Warhol’s-entitled Shadows, of course, it is 128 colorful variations of a shadow. Many of the installations are for me very intellectual, if that is a kind of art.


Sol LeWitt has done his work directly on the wall– with colored pencils. Astonishing and mind-boggling time and effort went into the studies and I’m not sure what makes them art, except that they are onte wall of a museum. I suspect the journey of making the piece, its impermanence and the reaction of the viewer must be part of it.


The most experiential ad satisfying installation is Richard Serra’s part of the permanent collection– can’t imagine how they even got these structure in there to being with…“What interests me is the opportunity for all of us to become something different from what we are, by constructing spaces that contribute something to the experience of who we are.” – Richard Serra.

My favorite:


Zoe Leonard: You see I am here after all, 2008

It is a wall of  thousands postcards from the early 1900’s through the 1950’s, all depicting Niagara falls from several angles. Some are hand-tinted, others are photographs. They are grouped by view and it is fascinating to read some of the notes penned on the photo side of the cards, there are also postmarks and visible defects and wonderful differences between them.

So there you have it. Who knew? $10, $7 students and seniors.

Winter Hours:
November 13, 2009—April 12, 2010
Friday—Monday 11am-4pm
[closed Tuesday—Thursday]