New York

13 Art and Museum Exhibits to Check Out Now in NYC

Grab your mask and wander the halls of the city’s unparalleled cultural institutions.

Photo courtesy of ARTECHOUSE NYC

After local museums were forced to close their doors at the start of NYC’s lockdown last March, to the delight and relief of art-loving New Yorkers everywhere, museums were allowed to reopen again late last summer. Ever since, with new safety and social distancing protocols in place, visitors have been able to wander the halls of our city’s unparalleled cultural institutions. And with the recent return of indoor dining, in addition to movie theatres set to reopen on March 5th (for the first time since they were shuttered), more and more weekend entertainment options are coming back to life.

Given the frigid winter weather of late, a museum visit is the perfect way to get out of the house to an indoor destination while remaining six feet apart from others. Upon arrival, expect attendance limited at 25% capacity, staggered and timed entry with ticketing booked in advance, and all of the standard safety protocols that feel like second nature at this point. So grab your mask, and get ready for some major inspiration with these 13 new and cool art exhibitions in NYC.

The American Museum of Natural History

Upper West Side
Exhibition: The Nature of Color
Visit the permanent exhibits of this 150-year-old museum and NYC institution, with breathtaking dioramas of African elephants or halls filled with meteorites and 94-feet-long blue whales. And be sure to check out a special exhibition called The Nature of Color. In it, you’ll learn of some of the astounding ways color exists in both nature and in the human world, how color affects our behavior, and where color exactly comes from (hint: it’s all about light!).
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

Photo courtesy of ARTECHOUSE NYC


Chelsea Market
Exhibition: Geometric Properties
This digital art space located inside Chelsea Market first debuted last March, but was forced to shut down 10 days later due to NYC’s first lockdown. Since reopening in September, ARTECHOUSE NYC has been hosting immersive light experiences that transport visitors to a magical place where forgetting about the pandemic (even while wearing a face covering) comes easily. Their first new exhibition of 2021—Geometric Properties: An Immersive Audio-Visual Journey Through Fractal Dimensions—opens on March 1, and is in collaboration with Amsterdam-based artist Julius Horsthuis. With the idea that mathematics is a universal way of communication within nature, Horsthuis brings visitors on a journey to explore the infinite geometric patterns that exist in its fractal world. Expect to be dazzled by masterful graphics intended to spark introspection from our recent past, as Horsthuis reveals his ideal future.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

Brooklyn Museum

Prospect Heights
Exhibition: John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance
The original design of the Brooklyn Museum might date back to 1893, but it’s had plenty of additions and renovations since then, including the iconic glass roof that now greets museumgoers at its entrance. While there, head straight to John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance, a museum solo exhibition that’s a first for the artist and a part of the prize package for winning the inaugural UOVO Prize for emerging Brooklyn artists. In it, Edmonds’s photography explores subjects such as queerness, African art, and Black identity.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

Exhibition: Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch
Located blocks away from Yankee Stadium, The Bronx Museum of the Arts has been open since 1971 and is available to all museumgoers free of charge. Running until April 5, Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch, is New York-based artist Sanford Biggers’ solo exhibition dedicated to over 50 quilt-inspired works across multiple mediums. Using antique quilts from before the 1900s, Biggers highlights the significance quilts have had in African American culture, especially dating back to when enslaved people used them as code to relay messages. From mix-media paintings to sculptures, additional themes include hip hop, and the idea of sampling from different sources to patchwork elements together.
How to visit: Reserve tickets for timed entry via website.

The Guggenheim

Upper East Side
Exhibition: Away from the Easel: Jackson Pollock’s Mural
As one of our most iconic architectural wonders, The Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure is also one of only 24 U.S. sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List (the Statue of Liberty is NYC’s only other honoree). Currently on exhibit is Away from the Easel: Jackson Pollock’s Mural, a special showing of Pollock’s largest-ever work that hasn’t been on view in NYC for more than 20 years. Standing almost eight feet tall and at 20 feet wide, the legendary American painter known for his signature abstract style created Mural in 1943—and the work of art recently went through a two-year restoration process.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Upper East Side
Exhibition: Goya’s Graphic Imagination
Considered to be one of NYC’s most significant museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka The Met) holds some impressive statistics: over seven million visitors annually (pre-pandemic); two million square feet of space to peruse; 5,000 years of culture housed under its roof, and 150 years in operation. One of its more recent exhibition debuts is Goya’s Graphic Imagination, which features over 100 works from the legendary Spanish artist, Francisco Goya, who lived until 1828. Known for his portraits, paintings, and drawings, this exhibition showcases how Goya’s work got darker throughout his career while living through social and political turbulence.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.


Long Island City
Exhibition: This Longing Vessel: Studio Museum
Housed in a former public school, the MoMA’s Queens location is an arts center focusing on contemporary works across all mediums, and is one of the borough’s most popular destinations for wandering through museum halls and basking in avant-garde creativity. In collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1 currently has a special exhibition, This Longing Vessel: Studio Museum, showcasing works from creators in the Harlem institution’s artists-in-residence program. From new media to painting, check out the talents of E. Jane, Naudline Pierre, and Elliot Reed.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

The Museum of Modern Art

Exhibition: Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver’s Cinematic Illusion
After three years of renovations, the new Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) debuted in October of 2019 with plenty of extra square footage to glimpse classics like Monet’s Water Lilies, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, and Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits. Through April, visitors can also check out Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver’s Cinematic Illusion, a moving-image installation merging film, lights, and sound in a 360-degree experience. Created by Japanese artist Shuzo Azuchi Gulliver and originally premiering in 1969 in a Tokyo nightclub, Cinematic Illusion projects almost 1,500 images for a unique cinematic adventure of its own.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

New Museum

Lower East Side
Exhibition: Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America
As we continue with important conversations about the racism and injustices faced daily by Black Americans in this country, an exhibit at the New Museum brings further perspective to this shameful American problem. Opened recently, Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, is centered around the idea that the racist violence regularly directed towards Black communities has made the concept of mourning a pervasive element in the lives of Black Americans everywhere. Featured in all three main exhibition floors of the museum, in addition to the lobby and public spaces, this intergenerational showing curated by Okwui Enwezor before his death in March of last year, includes the works of 37 artists across various mediums.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

Silent Spikes
Kenneth Tam, still from "Silent Spikes", 2021, two-channel HD video, sound, 20:29 minutes. | Courtesy the artist and Commonwealth & Council

Queens Museum

Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Exhibition: Silent Spikes
Located at Flushing Meadows Corona Park just steps away from NYC’s landmark Unisphere, the Queens Museum is free of charge to museumgoers and known for its contemporary programming that’s as diverse as its home borough. Its newest exhibition, Silent Spikes, opened just this week from Queens-born artist Kenneth Tam, and addresses how Asian-American male masculinity has been marginalized throughout American history. Using the theme of American Western films and its iconic cowboys as a trope, through video and sculpture, Tam’s solo show explores America’s long legacy of devaluing male expressions from other cultures to then deem it as less macho in comparison to the mythical American cowboy.
How to visit: Reserve tickets for timed entry via website.

Staten Island Museum

Snug Harbor
Exhibition: Women of the Nation Arise!
With its origins dating back to 1881, the Staten Island Museum is located at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden along the north shore of the island. Currently, visitors can expect the exhibition: Women of the Nation Arise!. This museum showcase highlights local suffragists and activists from the borough who contributed to the national dialog for the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the constitutional right to vote. Through this retrospective, learn more about an important chapter in both American and NYC history that fought for the equality of its citizens. 
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

Meatpacking District
Exhibition: Nothing Is So Humble: Prints from Everyday Objects
This stylish museum located near the High Line and the Hudson River debuted in 2015 and showcases contemporary American art over 81,000-square-feet of space. One of their current shows is Nothing Is So Humble: Prints from Everyday Objects, an exhibition showcasing the work of seven artists who creatively capture the mundaneness in day-to-day items through print. From lint and banana peels to nylon stocks and prosciutto, discover the works of Ruth Asawa, Sari Dienes, Pati Hill, Kahlil Robert Irving, Virginia Overton, Julia Phillips, and Zarina, for inspiration on how even the simplest of things can transform into art.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

Howardena Pindell, Four Little Girls, 2020. Mixed media on canvas. 108 x 120 inches. Howardena Pindell, Columbus, 2020. Mixed media on canvas. 108 x 120 inches. Installation view. | Photo courtesy of Kelly Marshall

The Shed

Hudson Yards
Exhibition: Howardena Pindell: Rope/Fire/Water 
As one of NYC’s more recently-debuted large-scale cultural and arts centers, The Shed opened at Hudson Yards in the spring of 2019 after a $475 million buildout. The institution showcases art across multiple disciplines and mediums—from dance and music to painting and sculptures—and it’s currently showing Howardena Pindell: Rope/Fire/Water. This solo exhibition from renowned American artist, Howardena Pindell, examines our country’s brutal history of racism and the therapeutic healing qualities art can provide. In addition to Pindell’s first video work of 25 years in her 60-year career, on view are abstract paintings and newer large-scale paintings.
How to visit: Purchase tickets for timed entry via website.

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Tae Yoon was born and raised in Queens, and is the Editor of Thrillist New York.
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