For nearly 50 years, the Grey Art Museum—formerly known as the Grey Art Gallery—was located within New York University’s Silver Center—the site of NYU’s original home, the legendary University Building (1835 to 1892). Winslow Homer, Daniel Huntington, Samuel Colt, George Innes, and Henry James all lived and worked there, as did Professor Samuel F. B. Morse, who established the first academic fine arts department in America on the museum’s original site.

Demolished in 1892, the original building was replaced by the Main Building (renamed the Silver Center in 2002). Here was located, from 1927 to 1942, A. E. Gallatin’s Museum of Living Art, NYU’s first art museum and the first institution in this country to exhibit work by Picasso, Léger, Mirò, Mondrian, Arp and members of the American Abstract Artists group. Gallatin aspired to create a forum for intellectual exchange, a place where artists would congregate to acquaint themselves with the latest developments in contemporary art. In 1975, with a generous gift from Mrs. Abby Weed Grey, the Museum’s original space was renovated, offices and a collection storage facility were added, and the doors were reopened as the Grey Art Gallery and Study Center.

In 2024, the Grey made a transformative move to a purpose-designed, larger, and more visible space at 18 Cooper Square in lower Manhattan. With this move, the Grey was renamed the Grey Art Museum. The Grey’s new home—with 40% more exhibition space—occupies the entire ground floor of a venerable brick and iron building in the historic NoHo district, its storefront façade facing out onto a busy pedestrian thoroughfare.

Over the last five decades the institution has organized exhibitions that have encompassed all the visual arts: painting, sculpture, drawing and printmaking, photography, architecture and decorative arts, video, film, and performance. In addition to originating its own exhibitions, some of which travel throughout the United States and abroad, the museum hosts traveling shows that might otherwise not be seen in New York. Award-winning scholarly publications, distributed worldwide, are published by the Grey Art Museum. In conjunction with its exhibitions, the Grey also sponsors public programs, including lectures, symposia, panel discussions, and films.