Art is the Star of the Show in Modern Day Palm Springs

 Palm Springs Sign, photo by mattk1979
 Palm Springs Sign, photo by mattk1979
 Palm Springs Sign, photo by mattk1979

The mere mention of Palm Springs calls to mind the Golden Age of Hollywood when rat pack members such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. considered the desert city their own personal playground. When they weren’t weekending in Vegas you could find ‘Ol Blue Eyes (and his famous compadres) drinking sophisticated cocktails on the patios of some of the best Palm Springs restaurants and hot spot hotels. In its heyday, the southern California city attracted some of the biggest celebrity names of the time, many of whom, such as Sinatra, ultimately purchased second homes there.

Palm Springs still attracts plenty of A-listers, and while we love the nostalgia of visiting all the old haunts of the rat pack crew, the city appeals to visitors for a variety of reasons. With its eclectic mix of great mid-century modern architecture, resort city status, and outdoor recreational activities, there is much for tourists and culture seekers to explore and experience during a visit. Palm Springs is also known for its impressive arts scene, so don’t forget to set aside a day or two to stop by some top-notch galleries and museums to view the art. We are happy to assist by sharing some of our favorite Palm Springs locales to help guide the way

The Palm Springs Art Museum is a great starting point for an art immersion experience through the Coachella Valley community. Within less than a mile from the museum, there are approximately a dozen art galleries and other creative spaces that make for an easy self-guided arts and culture excursion, with most of the galleries located within the Uptown District.


1. Palm Springs Art Museum

Not far from the iconic Palm Springs Tennis Club where many of the rich and famous once swung a racket, the Palm Springs Art Museum could be considered an anchor among the lovely historic neighborhoods. Previously named Palm Springs Desert Museum, it has a distinguished 80-year history, though its board didn’t approve the addition of a fine art collection until 1967. The collection has since grown to include over 12,000 objects such as architectural pieces, Indigenous art, modern and contemporary works, and Western American art. Notable artists whose works have been donated to the museum and are part of the collection include “photographer of the stars” William “Bill” Anderson and painter Leon Polk Smith.

Laying claim to the highest concentration of mid-century modern structures in the country, Palm Springs is a mecca of sorts for lovers of the architectural style. So it stands to reason that art of the period is at the core of the museum’s prestigious collection.Albert Frey House II, photo by JoeinSouthernCA

To experience the biggest piece of mid-century modern art in the museum’s collection, check out the “Frey House II,” which is the former home of renowned architect Albert Frey, situated on a mountain just above the museum. Frey’s incorporation of the natural elements of the mountainside within the spectacular home juxtaposes rural features with an urban design consistent with the time period. A tour of the home is an extraordinary opportunity if you are lucky enough to make it happen.

Want to “enter the frey,” so to speak? While access to the interior of the home is fairly limited (to specific times of the year such as modernism week in Palm Springs), you can admire the exterior year-round.

101 N Museum Drive, Palm Springs, CA

2. Stewart Galleries

Stewart Galleries has been in business for several decades and is bulging at the seams with art to satisfy the interests of every potential visitor through the doors. With an incredible selection of fine art, its creative lineup includes Plein air paintings, American Impressionist and modernist art, as well as sculptures by European and South American artists.

Stewart Galleries also boasts one of the largest collections of English, Continental, and American Majolica on display to the public. The Majolica style of ornately decorated clay pottery was in high demand during the 19th century and a frequent design element of fine British interiors. Although its popularity waned for a time, it returned to favor in the 1970s, perhaps in conjunction with the growing interest in mid-century modern design.



191 S Indian Canyon Drive # A, Palm Springs, CA


3. Desert Art Center Gallery

The Desert Art Center (DAC) is all about community and has been for the last 70 years. In addition to a gallery space that features talented local artists, the center is actively engaged in promoting and facilitating arts education. DAC hosts an extensive variety of classes, making the creation of art affordable and accessible to people of all ages in the Coachella Valley.



 The DAC Gallery showcases artworks of almost every imaginable genre, from glassworks to weaving to painting and pretty much everything in between. The gallery, along with a smaller studio, features dozens of artists each year, with exhibitions that change every two months.

550 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA

4. Rubine Red Gallery

Rubine Red doesn’t just show art, but rather they reference their work and that of their artists as part of a “new contemporary art movement.”

Rubine Red Gallery’s Estate Collection is particularly compelling, with the works of acclaimed artists in the styles of mid-century modernism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism. Artists of the stature of Palm Springs painter Reginald Pollack and renowned printmaker Malcolm Myers are represented within the gallery’s truly impressive collection.

668 N Palm Canyon Drive Suite 102, Palm Springs, CA

Are you a fan of mid-century modern art? You can experience some of the best original works virtually on the ugallery website.

5. Woodman/shimko Gallery

With the original location in Provincetown, Massachusetts, Woody Shimko opened his Palm Springs location in 2013, and in some aspects is still the “new kid on the block” in the Uptown Design District. The art showcased at the gallery ranges from serene watercolor paintings to more provocative works, including nude dot series portraits by artist/photographer Hank Hudson.

The gallery also features Shimko’s design and creation of original Japanese coffee tables which he makes from industrial materials. Shimko lived and worked in Tokyo for fifteen years, which served as inspiration for his unique creations.

1105 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA

As we endeavor to highlight some prominent California cities for viewing art, here’s hoping this unofficial tour of Palm Springs has provided some useful tips for a potential visit. Not ready to make the trip? You can view original works from the comfort of your couch on UGallery’s website.