National Arts Club

Arts Center in Union Square, Flatiron District & Gramercy

Founded in 1898 to promote public interest in the arts, the National Arts Club holds art exhibitions, with free admission to the public during weekdays; check the website for upcoming shows as well as evening events. Calvert Vaux – one of the creators of Central Park – designed the building itself, with a picture-lined front parlor adorned with a beautiful, vaulted stained-glass panel. The mansion was once home to Samuel J Tilden, a former New York governor and the failed 1876 presidential candidate.

A pantheon of famous names have walked those floors: past members include not only artists like classic American writers Herman Melville and Mark Twain but former US presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower. Current members include Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese and Uma Thurman.

It also hosts evening life-drawing classes ($15 to $25), usually on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 7pm to 9pm (check online).