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Museum Exhibits in NYC to See Right Now

The best New York City museum exhibitions to see right now

When it comes to culture like museum exhibits, New York is hard to beat. From art to history to design, the city’s institutions are packed with exhibits that provoke, intrigue, and entertain. Right now you can see the original animals that inspired Winnie the Pooh, an immersive show in Chelsea, a tribute to The Walking Dead, and much more. Here are our picks for the can’t-miss museum exhibits of the season.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Opening of the Week

theaster gates

“Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces,” 2022. Exhibition view: New Museum, New York. Photo: Dario Lasagni. Courtesy New Museum.

The first American museum survey exhibition devoted to installation artist Theaster Gates is now open at the New Museum. “Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces” spans three floors, highlighting work of the last two decades and site-specific environments created just for this show. Civic commitment meets a poetic sensibility as Gates honors resonant people in his life and the radical thinkers who shaped his home city of Chicago and America as a whole.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Legendary Art

jean-michel basquiat

Photo by Lee Jaffe.

Everyone's favorite Brooklyn artist has a major exhibition, led by his family and launched in Chelsea. Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure features a priceless collection of over 200 never before and rarely seen paintings, drawings, ephemera, and artifacts. The show is sourced from the Basquiat family collection and also features recreations of his NYC artist studio on Great Jones St. and the Michael Todd VIP Room of NYC’s Palladium nightclub, where Basquiat created two paintings. Extended, now through January 1, 2023.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Photography

David LaChapelle Behold 2015 Hawaii

David LaChapelle - ‘Behold' (2015 Hawaii). ©David LaChapelle, courtesy of Fotografiska New York.

Fotografiska New York is a museum experience for the modern world. The institution hosts its first full-building takeover as it launches David LaChapelle: make Believe. Vibrant images fill all six floors of the museum, with 150 works full of wit, celebrity, and technical innovation. Included are the last-ever portraits of Andy Warhol and Michael Jackson, household-name album covers, and allegorical works in dialogue with the AIDS epidemic. The show weaves together recurring themes of religion, the environment and the play between artifice and nature, gender identity, societal ideals of beauty, and LaChapelle’s legendary explorations of pop culture fame. The artist collaborated on the show’s layout, which takes the form of a journey, interacting with the church-like details of Fotografiska’s stunning 1894 neo-Gothic architecture. Through January 8th, 2023.

The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England 

Quentin Metsys the Younger (1543-1589). Elizabeth I of England (“The Sieve Portrait”), 1583 Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena, Siena

Quentin Metsys the Younger (1543-1589). Elizabeth I of England (“The Sieve Portrait”), 1583. Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena, Siena.

We know the Tudors from centuries of pop culture portrayals, but their art and design have never had an exhibition in the United States—until now. The Met has launched The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England. More than 100 paintings, tapestries, and sculptures are on display, representing the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Tudor courts. Works of art made under the patronage of all five Tudor monarchs are here, in the categories “Inventing a Dynasty,” “Splendor,” “Public and Private Faces,” “Languages of Ornament,” and “Allegories and Icons.” Through January 8th, 2023.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Library

original winnie the pooh

A lock of Edgar Allan Poe’s hair, Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence, Malcolm X’s briefcase, the real-life Winnie-the-Pooh: the New York Public Library holds a lot more than books. For the first time ever you can explore a selection of the 56 million items in the collection with the opening of the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures. Ongoing.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Art and New York City

girl with radish marjorie strider

Marjorie Strider, Girl with Radish, 1963. Acrylic on laminated pine on Masonite panels, 72 x 60 in. Collection of Ruth and Theodore Baum, New York/Palm Beach, FL. | New York: 1962–1964 Catalogue.

The early 1960s were a time of tumult and also a time of great leaps in the possibilities for art. The Jewish Museum exhibit New York: 1962-1964 uses the museum’s own influential role during those years as a jumping-off point to explore how New York artists responded to epoch-changing events. Work by dozens of major artists is on display, including Diane Arbus, Merce Cunningham, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Louise Nevelson, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition aligns with the years of Alan Solomon’s tenure as the museum’s influential director, organizing exhibitions dedicated to what he called the “New Art” and transforming the Jewish Museum into one of the most important cultural hubs in the city. Through January 8th, 2023.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Fashion

meisen kimono

Image: Meisen Kimono with Water Droplets, Shōwa period (1926–89).

The Met's newest exhibition traces the transformation of kimono fashion from the late 18th century through the early 1900s. Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection explores artistic exchanges between the kimono and Western fashion, with kimonos, Western couture, and Japanese paintings, prints, and decorative arts. through February 20th, 2023.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Immersive Art

artechouse life of a neuron

Head to the historic boiler room of Chelsea Market to experience the immersive art space ARTECHOUSE. You’ve never seen art like this before, as room-sized digital projections merge with sound design to create a cinematic experience. Life of a Neuron draws on decades of neuroscience research to create a cellular-level journey through the human brain. Come explore the intersections of art and science and discover new layers of a universal human experience—the story of ourselves. The main installation is joined by additional immersive artworks. You can also grab a drink at the newly opened XR Bar.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Himalayan Art

green tara

Museum Exhibits NYC: Eastern Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin.

Chelsea’s Rubin Museum of Art has a mission of presenting and preserving Himalayan art. You can get an overview in current exhibition Gateway to Himalayan Art, which introduces visitors to the main forms, concepts, meanings, and traditions of Himalayan art in the Rubin collection. The newest addition here is an interactive space, The Mandala Lab, which is oriented around five immersive experiences, drawing on film, scent, sound, and a sculpture that invites collective breathing. Through June 4th, 2023.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Old New York

analog museum city new york presses

Photo: Brad Farwell.

Yes, somehow New York City functioned without smartphones and desktops. A new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York transports visitors to pre-digital New York through Analog City: New York B.C. (Before Computers). Check out the lost innovations and industries that once fueled NYC. Through December 31st, 2022.

Museum Exhibits NYC: The Walking Dead

living with the walking dead momi

The centerpiece of the Living with The Walking Dead exhibition features the costumes of key characters Rick, Morgan, Negan, Carol, Daryl, Maggie, Michonne, Father Gabriel, and Jadis. Image: Thanassi Karageorgiou/Museum of the Moving Image.

The Walking Dead is one of the most-watched shows in cable history, entering its final season this fall. Fans will not want to miss the exhibition Living with The Walking Dead at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. Delve into the origins, production, fandom, and impact of the show through production materials like original costumes and props, concept art, storyboards, scripts, and of course plenty of the prosthetic makeup used to transform cast members into the walking dead. On view through January 23rd, 2023.

Museum Exhibits NYC: Architecture

residential rising skyscraper museum

Located in the world's foremost vertical metropolis, the Skyscraper Museum celebrates NYC's rich architectural heritage and examines the historical forces that have shaped its skylines. On view now is RESIDENTIAL RISING: Lower Manhattan since 9/11, which looks at the more than doubling of Lower Manhattan's residential population in the two decades since the turn of the century. The main space of the gallery is devoted to a dozen featured projects, 9 new and 3 conversions. Many are represented in stunning models, from Frank Gehry’s bricolage of form and façade for 8 Spruce St. to marketing-suite extravagance such as for the conversion of One Wall Street. The show will run through January, 2023; admission is free but timed tickets are required.

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About the Author

Ethan Wolff is the author of numerous guidebooks to New York, having covered the city for more than two decades. He has written for New York Magazine, BlackBook, and Details, among others. In addition to his work as the editor of City Guide, Ethan covers NYC’s talk and lecture scene for the website Thought Gallery. He lives with his wife and two daughters in the Windsor Terrace neighborhood of Brooklyn.

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