In a 1929 Nabisco box-printing factory on the banks of the Hudson, the Dia Art Foundation, has created the world's largest contemporary-art museum, an institution that adheres to the foundation's single-minded purpose. The museum houses Dia's rarely seen permanent collection of pivotal conceptual, minimalist, and Earth artists, mostly men who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s. Nearly 250,000 square feet of gallery space -- illuminated almost entirely by natural light that streams in through the factory's original skylights -- were designed to exhibit the works of single artists. Works include sculptures by Richard Serra (whose long gallery, the former train shed, is devoted to three of his massive Torqued Ellipse pieces), the fluorescent-light sculptures of Dan Flavin, Andy Warhol's work Shadows, and mixed-media installations by Joseph Beuys. Other noted artists include Gerhardt Richter, Louise Bourgeois, Sol LeWitt, Walter De Maria, and Bruce Nauman (whose creepy installation documenting the nocturnal comings and goings of rats in his studio is perfectly suited to the basement). These are challenging artists across the board, and their minimalist works will surely strike some viewers as head-scratchers; but even visitors who aren't great fans of contemporary art are likely to find the museum space and the site on the river quite extraordinary.
Note: Metro-North Railroad offers a "1-day getaway fare" that includes round-trip train fare from New York City and admission to Dia:Beacon. See www.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/outbound_diabeacon.htm for prices and additional information.