The city that never sleeps is at its bustling best during Fall, with NYC museums playing host to a fabulous programme of exhibitions.
Across New York, museums spanning every facet of culture – from classic and modern art, to photography to celebrations of the emergency and military services who have given so much to the Big Apple so well down the years. If you’re visiting New York over the coming months and would like to check out any exhibitions during your stay, we’ve picked out 10 of the best set to run through this Fall.
Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite
Kwame Brathwaite deployed his photography from the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s as an agent of social change. Born in Brooklyn to a Caribbean American family, Brathwaite traces his artistic and political sensibilities to his youth. After seeing the horrific images of the murdered African American 14-year-old Emmett Till, Brathwaite and his brother turned to art and political activism. In the 1960s, Brathwaite and a collective of artists and creatives sought to address how white conceptions of beauty and body image affected black women. To do so, they popularised the idea “Black Is Beautiful”. This exhibition features 40 studio portraits and behind-the-scenes images of Harlem’s artistic community, offering a captivating exploration of Brathwaite’s life and work.
New-York Historical Society / Through 15 January 2023
Eva Hesse: Expanded Expansion
Both influential and experimental, German-born artist Eva Hesse sought to make objects that were neither painting nor sculpture, but a hybrid that was all her own. This exhibition centres around Expanded Expansion, a piece created back in 1969 and now publicly displayed for the first time in 35 years, while also offering a glimpse into the artist’s studio practice and approach to art-making. To make the piece, Hesse juxtaposed soft, draping panels of rubberized cheesecloth with rigid fibreglass and polyester resin poles that extend to form “legs.” Simultaneously humorous and commanding, the work’s repeating segments lean against the wall and can be manipulated to expand and contract.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Through 16 October 2022
The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England
England under the volatile Tudor dynasty was a thriving home for the arts. An international community of artists and merchants navigated the high-stakes demands of royal patrons, including England’s first two reigning queens. Against a backdrop of shifting political relationships with mainland Europe, Tudor artistic patronage legitimised, promoted, and stabilised a series of tumultuous reigns, from Henry VII’s seizure of the throne in 1485 to the death of his granddaughter Elizabeth I in 1603. The Tudor courts were truly cosmopolitan, boasting the work of Florentine sculptors, German painters, and Europe’s best armorers, goldsmiths, and printers, while also contributing to the emergence of a distinctly English style. This exhibition traces the transformation of the arts in Tudor England through more than 100 objects – including portraits, tapestries, manuscripts, sculpture, and armour.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art / 10 October – 8 January 2022
Older than dinosaurs – and more threatened than threatening – sharks are spectacular, surprising, and often misunderstood. Featuring dozens of life-sized models ranging from 5.5 inches to 33 feet long, plus fossils, touch-free interactive exhibits, and plenty more, this exhibition invites visitors of all ages to discover the incredible diversity of this ancient and fascinating group of fishes. Highlights include a display of 12 casts of jaws and teeth of various shark species, from a great white shark’s serrated teeth for hunting seals to a zebra shark’s small, sharp teeth, specialised to chew through shells.
American Museum of Natural History / Through 4 September 2023
At the Dawn of a New Age: Early Twentieth-Century American Modernism
America’s early modernists came of age during a time when the country’s predominant mood was one of youthful confidence. Racial violence and social and economic injustices existed, but so too did insurgency and social reform. American technological and engineering ingenuity had made the country the world’s largest industrial power at the same time that political Progressivism and cultural shifts such as women’s suffrage had upended bourgeois codes of respectability. Against this backdrop, large numbers of American artists embraced the new over the traditional and fixed by rejecting realistic depictions of the world in favour of art that prioritised emotional experience and harmonious design. This exhibition showcases art produced between 1900 and 1930 by well-known American modernists and their now largely forgotten, but equally ground-breaking peers.
Whitney Museum of American Art / Through 26 February 2023
Dawn till Dusk: Studies of Light in Marine Sketches
The 19th-century in Europe saw the rise of plein air painting, in which artists used oil paint while working outdoors. This practice led many painters to concentrate not merely on the features of the landscape but also on the subtle atmospheric changes typical of daybreak and nightfall. The transient effects of light were further amplified when painters set out to capture the reflective, amorphous quality of water. Marine studies became an apt motif for Romantic-era artists who sought to trigger an emotional response in viewers through the awe-inspiring, limitless potential of rivers and oceans. This exhibition brings together plein air marine studies by Norwegian, French, Danish, and German artists, with the works on display arranged by time of day, illustrating the varying effects of light on water – from the sunlight at dawn through the scintillating glow of moonlight at dusk.
The Morgan Library & Museum / Through 23 October 2022
Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics
Everyone on Earth was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with unequal access to housing, jobs, and health care hitting already marginalised communities harder than others. This exhibition presents architectural case studies and historical narratives alongside creative design responses to the pandemic. Every designer, artist, doctor, engineer, or neighbour featured in the exhibition asked, “How can I help?” They used open-source collaboration, rapid-response prototyping, product hacking, and social activism to create medical devices, protective gear, infographics, political posters, architecture, and community services – all with the shared aspiration to reduce structural barriers that keep us from accessing the care we all deserve.
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum / Through 20 February 2023
Faces Change | Immigrant Prejudice Remains
Latin American folk migrating to the U.S. have been put in the national spotlight due in large part to an escalation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) raids, the detention of undocumented immigrants, and child separation policies. Tensions have made immigration at the U.S. – Mexico Border one of the most hotly contested discussions in United States politics. Concern for the future of immigration policy and U.S. race-relations have amplified this discourse, contributing to a revival in artistic and journalistic attention. This photography exhibition features the works of artists currently documenting the precarious and often life-threatening experience of crossing the border, revealing and illuminating a history of long-standing discord.
The Kimmel Windows, New York University / Ongoing
New York: 1962 – 1964
Between 1962 and 1964, epoch-changing events – such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and assassination of JFK – fundamentally altered the social and political landscape of New York City, and the nation. An unprecedented economic boom broadened the array of available consumer goods, and an expanding media network introduced new voices into conversations about race, class, and gender. Emerging in this context, a generation of New York-based creatives rose to prominence, incorporating material directly from their urban surroundings into their works. Through more than 180 works of art by such distinguished names as Diane Arbus, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol among many others, this exhibition explores that pivotal three-year period, examining how artists living and working in NYC responded to their rapidly changing world.
The Jewish Museum / Through 8 January 2023
Gateway to Himalayan Art
This exhibition introduces visitors to the main forms, concepts, meanings, and traditions of Himalayan art. It opens with a large multimedia map that highlights regions of the diverse Himalayan cultural sphere, including parts of present-day India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Mongolia. In addition to sculptures and paintings, objects such as a stupa, prayer wheel, and ritual implements demonstrate how patrons sought the accumulation of merit and hoped for wealth, long life, and spiritual gains, all to be fulfilled through the ritual use of these objects and commissioning works of art. Among the featured installations are a display that explains the process of Nepalese lost-wax metal casting and a presentation of the stages of Tibetan hanging scroll painting (thangka), along with life-size reproductions of murals from Tibet’s Lukhang Temple.
Rubin Museum of Art / Through 4 June 2023