2021 Fall Preview: Museum Shows

The Big Museums

We know them from tv, movies, even cartoons: they’re the big museums of New York City and often the only formal art institution most visitors see. As a result of this fame and audience, their special exhibitions tend to be large, spectacular, and Instagrammable with short snippets of information placed strategically throughout the rooms – less about study and contemplation of a topic and more about keeping people moving through the rooms. It’s a system that’s worked for years, although it can be frustrating for experienced museum goers who get bored with the same display backgrounds, layouts, and writing styles. However, there’s no doubt that many people enjoy seeing and learning this way, if attendance numbers are anything to go by, so it’s not going to change any time soon. And of course, we’ll still go to these exhibitions, because, well, we don’t want to miss out.


Christian Dior (French, 1905 – 1957). Bar suit, afternoon ensemble with an ecru natural shantung jacket and black pleated wool crepe skirt. Haute Couture Spring – Summer 1947, Corolle line. Dior Heritage collection, Paris. © Katerina Jebb

The Brooklyn Museum (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn): The Obama Portraits Tour (August 27 – October 24, 2021), Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (September 10, 2021 – February 20, 2022), Baseera Khan: I Am an Archive (October 1, 2021 – July 10, 2022), Andy Warhol: Revelation (November 19, 2021 – June 19, 2022)


Guggenheim Museum (88th Street and Fifth Avenue): Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle (October 8, 2021 – September 5, 2022), Etel Adnan: Light’s New Measure (October 8, 2021 – January 10, 2022), Gillian Wearing: Wearing Masks (November 5, 2021 – April 4, 2022)


Dress, Patrick Kelly (American, 1954–1990), fall/winter 1986–87; Gift of Elaine Blatt, 2005 (2005.92 ). Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (81st Street and Fifth Avenue): Jules Tavernier and the Elem Pomo (August 16 – November 28, 2021), In America: A Lexicon of Fashion (September 18, 2021 – September 5, 2022) Surrealism Beyond Borders (October 11, 2021 – January 30, 2022), Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Room (opens November 5, 2021), Inspiring Walt Disney: The Animation of French Decorative Arts (December 10, 2021 – March 6, 2022)


Camel. first half 12th century (possibly 1129–34), fresco transferred to canvas. Made in Castile-León, Spain. The Cloisters Collection, 1961. Accession Number: 61.219

The Met Cloisters (Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan): Spain, 1000-1200: Art at the Frontiers of Faith (August 30, 2021 – January 30, 2022


MoMA (53rd Street between 5th and 6th Avenues): Shigeko Kubota: Liquid Reality (August 21, 2021 – January 1, 2022), Renew, Reuse, Recycle: Recent Architecture from China (September 18, 2021 – July 4, 2022), Adam Pendleton: Who Is Queen? (September 18, 2021 – January 30, 2022), Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction (November 21, 2021 – March 12, 2022), Joseph E. Yoakum: What I Saw (November 28, 2021 – March 19, 2022)


MoMA PS 1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Queens): Greater New York 2021 (October 7, 2021 – April 22, 2022)


Whitney Museum of American Art (99 Gansevoort Street): Martine Gutierrez (September 2021 – March 2022), Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror (September 29, 2021 – February 13, 2022), My Barbarian (October 29, 2021 – February 27, 2022), Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing (opens October 30, 2021), Whitney Biennial 2022 (April 5, 2022 – August 31, 2022)

The Smaller Museums

We happen to be big fans of the smaller museum: with a focused approach to their holdings and mission; innovative ways curators, exhibition designers, and research staff bring exhibitions to life; and educating visitors of all ages; visiting always makes for a memorable experience.

Asia Society (70th Street and Park Avenue): Rebel, Jester, Mystic, Poet: Contemporary Persians – The Mohammed Afkhami Collection (September 10, 2021 – January 16, 2022), Video Spotlight: UuDam Tran Nguyen (September 10, 2021 – January 16, 2022)


The Bronx Museum of the Arts (1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx): Bronx Calling: The Fifth AIM Biennial (October 20, 2021 – January 16, 2022)


Cooper Hewitt Design Center (91st Street and Fifth Avenue): Underground Modernist: E. McKnight Kauffer (September 10, 2021 – April 10, 2022), Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics (December 10, 2021 – August 14, 2022). As an added bonus, the museum will have free admission until October 31, 2021.


The Drawing Center (35 Wooster Street): Ways of Seeing: Three Takes of the Jack Shear Drawing Collection (October 2, 2021 – February 20, 2022)


Room 11: This grand gallery of Italian Renaissance paintings includes work by Veronese. Centrally located is a bronze by Francesco da Sangallo, placed atop a replica of its original base; photo: Joe Coscia. Image courtesy The Frick Collection.

The Frick Collection (75th Street and Madison Avenue): Highlights from the permanent collection on view at the museum’s temporary home on Madison Avenue and 75th Street, while the old location undergoes renovation. If you haven’t seen their holdings before, this current display is a wonderful introduction to one of the best single collector museums in the US. If you have visited the museum in the past, this new display is beautifully done, with pictures grouped by period or artist, allowing visitors to appreciate their favorites in fresh ways.


International Center of Photography (79 Essex Street): Gillian Laub: Family Matters (September 24, 2021 – January 10, 2022), Diana Markosian: Santa Barbara (September 24, 2021 – January 10, 2022), Inward: Reflections on Interiority (September 24, 2021 – January 10, 2022)


The Jewish Museum (92nd Street and Fifth Avenue): Afterlives: Recovering the Lost Stories of Looted Art (August 20, 2021 – January 9, 2022, The Hare with Amber Eyes (November 19, 2021 – May 15, 2022


Morgan Library and Museum (36th Street and Madison Avenue): Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South (September 24, 2021 – January 16, 2022), Ashley Bryan and Langston Hughes: Sail Away (October 7, 2021 – January 22, 2022), Imperial Splendor: The Art of the Book in the Holy Roman Empire, ca. 800-1500 (October 15, 2021 – January 23, 2022), Van Eyck to Mondrian: 300 Years of Collecting in Dresden (October 22, 2021 – January 30, 2022)


Museum of Chinese in America (215 Centre Street): With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America (now through December 31, 2023), an unlikely photojournalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown (online only, until December 31, 2021), Responses: Asian American Voices Resisting the Tides of Racism (until September 19, 2021)


“Benediction: John Fire Lame Deer” by America Meredith (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, b. 1972), 2005. Acrylic on Masonite. Museum purchase with support from the Ford Foundation, 2012. (26/8631)

National Museum of the American Indian (Bowling Green, Manhattan): Stretching the Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting (now through January 2, 2022). Read our review here.


New-York Historical Society (77th Street and Central Park West): Aristotle: From Antiquity to the Modern Era (September 10, 2021 – January 2, 2022), Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (October 1, 2021 – January 23, 2022), Scenes of New York City: The Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection (October 22, 2021 – February 27, 2022), Close Encounters in the Colonies: Treasures from the David M. Rubenstein Americana Collection (October 1, 2021 – January 23, 2022), “Turn Every Page”: Inside the Robert A. Caro Archive (opens October 24, 2021)


Poster House (23rd Street between 6th and 7th Avenues): The Push Pin Legacy (September 2, 2021 – February 6, 2022), You Won’t Bleed Me: How Blaxploitation Posters Defined Cool & Delivered Profits (September 2, 2021 – February 6, 2022), What’s the Score? The Posters of LeRoy Nieman (September 2, 2021 – March 27, 2022), Peter Max: Cosmic Advertising (October 14, 2021 – March 27, 2022), Ethel Reed: I Am My Own Property (February 24 – August 21, 2022), Behind the Camera: The Unknown Women of Hollywood (April 7 – October 9, 2022), Posters for the Tokyo Olympiad (April 7 – October 9, 2022)