You are in town and need to break away from the boardroom to an exhibition room. Bogotá’s art world may seem daunting, and most will recommend some alpha institutions to visit: Museo de Arte Banco de la República, Museo Botero (name needs no introduction) and Museo Nacional, the National Museum.

They’re free, open most days (except Tuesdays) and welcoming places with courtyards to enjoy a good coffee between rotating canvasses.

But for these you need time and in a game of beat-the-clock art hunting in Bogotá, thankfully, the city has many of them.

Galería El Museo (Calle 81 No. 11- 41) and La Cometa (Carrera 10 No. 94A- 25) are good places to start. These galleries represent many established artists and if you find something you fancy (such as a little Botero) you’ll need to wire transfer money.

La Cometa Bogotá
La Cometa houses some of the art world’s heavy hitters alongside up-and-comers. (Courtesy La Cometa Galeria)

So, they are not exactly venues for a casual art shopping spree.

Nueveochenta (Calle 70 No. 9 -80) is known for its installations and theme exhibitions by up-and-coming artists. Located in a two-storey house in Quinta Camacho and close to many brand hotels, it’s a space for quirky mixed media and personal projects.

From here, wander over towards Cero Gallery (Calle 80 No. 12-55). Innovative works are in good hands thanks to the curatorial powers of gallery director Leonor Uribe. Big white walls on three floors are ideal for showing large-format photography by invited visual artists.

Carlos Zerpabzueta at La Esquina
Work by Venezuelan artist Carlos Zerpabzueta on display at La Esquina. (Courtesy La Esquina)

You’ll find originality from documentary to fine art portraiture. A relative newcomer to the art circuit, is La Esquina gallery, located near the Avenida Chile (Calle 77 No. 12-03). Promoting itself as a cultural space for works by both Colombian and Venezuelan artists, La Esquina is currently hosting the latest exhibition by Santiago Cárdenas.

The Carrera Quinta in La Macarena is gallery row with well-established names such as Valenzuela-Klenner and NC-Arte (Carrera 5 No. 26 B-77). The art tends to be edgier, more conceptual and installation driven in this part of town.

Lampo by Jorge Macchi
Wood “drawings” cast varied shadows in Jorge Macchi’s exhibition “Lampo” at NC-arte. (Courtesy NC-arte)

NC-Arte is no small venue and has brought many big names in contemporary art to Bogotá. Even though you may not be familiar with the works on display, the gallery makes for an enjoyable Saturday outing.

A quick cab ride to the centric Espacio Odeón (Carrera 5 No. 12C-73) and you are at the mercy of the intrepid. Part stage, part creative lab, Odeón, is emerging as a vibrant cultural hub for those edgier-than-thou artists.

Trama by Leyla Cárdenas
Odeón combines traditional architecture and contemporary art. (Courtesy Espacio Odeón)

Joyce Lamazone is dedicated to putting photography back on the wall in Chapinero Alto, thanks to her Lamazone Gallery (Carrera 3 No. 63-58). This venue breathes much-needed life into photo exhibits, and back-to-back shows mean you won’t miss out on a cool retrospective or carefully chosen individual show.

If you can’t beat-the-clock and want to have one night out with complete strangers, then the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce and El Retiro shopping mall have hired shuttles to 14 city galleries as part of their Noche de Galerías programme.

Accompanied by bilingual guides, this is one way to get to know galleries in the city. Chances are, you’ll make friends that are connected to art and not your LinkedIn.

Read more on Bogotá’s visual art scene