International museums and cultural institutions in NYC

Need a holiday? Experience global culture without leaving the city at these international museums and centers.



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  • Photograph: Peter Aaron

    Japan Society

  • Photograph: Courtesy The American Scandinavian Foundation

    Scandinavia House

  • French Institute Alliance Française

  • Photograph: Courtesy Ukrainian Museum

    Red Cavalry from "Propaganda and Slogans: The Political Poster in Soviet Ukraine, 1919-21"

Photograph: Peter Aaron

Japan Society

The Queens Museum reopens this week, with a strong multicultural program to represent the borough's diverse population. But there are plenty of institutions where you can immerse yourself in another country's art, history, film or food. Here are some of our favorites.

Japan Society

No need for a pricey flight to Tokyo—this nonprofit hosts multiple events and exhibits annually with the aim of fostering positive U.S.-Japanese relations. Founded in 1907, it features a theater, an art gallery and a language center, as well as bucolic indoor gardens and a waterfall. $12, seniors and students $10, children under 16 free; Fri 6–9pm free.

Coming up
Dances of Vice hosts Cosmic Odyssey: A Space Pop Party in White (Sat 9, 8pm–midnight; $20, advance $15; in the psychedelic environs of artist Mariko Mori’s futuristic exhibition “Rebirth.” Galactic guests are encouraged to dress in monochrome, sip at an open sake bar (8–9pm), and bop to space go-go spun by DJs Devon E. Levins and Saiko Mikan. Japanese burlesque duo the Momojiri Girls and a hula hoopist add to the ambience.

  1. 333 E 47th St, (between First and Second Aves), 10017
More info

Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center

The American-Scandinavian Foundation headquarters offers a packed schedule of exhibitions, screenings, concerts, lectures and symposia, providing exposure to Northern European culture in less time than it takes to put together an IKEA side table. Free.

Coming up
The “Dinner & A Movie” package ($31; reservations required) pairs a two-course prix fixe prepared by in-house eatery Smörgås Chef with the organization’s slate of current Nordic cinema. Admire the stunning panoramas in Herd In Iceland (Thu 7 at 7pm), a documentary about the annual roundup of purebred horses, or follow the tumultuous marriage of 19th-century Danish painters Marie and P.S. Krøyer in Marie Krøyer (Dec 4 at 7pm, Dec 6 at 6:30pm).

  1. 58 Park Ave, (between 37th and 38th Sts)
More info

French Institute Alliance Française

FIAF’s literarature, film and performing arts programming will satisfy the most rabid of Francophiles. One of the largest Gallic cultural centers in the country, its impressive facilities include Florence Gould Hall Theater and the Haskell Library, stocked with French-language newspapers, magazines, DVDs and books. Free.

Coming up
Learn about l’amour à la française during the “Undressed: The Art of Sex & Seduction” lecture series. A steamy debate on French sensuality (Nov 20 at 7pm) is followed by an exploration inside the erotic mind led by sex therapist Esther Perel (Dec 2 at 7pm); lastly, investigate the science of love, lust and attraction with biological anthropologist Helen Fisher (Dec 9 at 7pm). $20–$25, three-talk package $50–$65

  1. 22 E 60th St, (between Madison and Park Aves)
More info

The Ukrainian Museum

Founded in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, this East Village gem features one of the largest collections of Ukrainian art and archival material in the U.S. The museum presents regular gallery talks, concerts and film screenings, as well as traditional folk-art workshops. $8, seniors and students $6, children 12 and under free.

Coming up
Study vintage communiqués in “Propaganda and Slogans: The Political Poster in Soviet Ukraine, 1919–1921” (through Feb 2), comprising 28 original pieces touting the rhetoric of Bolshevism. For another blast from the Soviet past, author Andrea Chalupa discusses her book Orwell and the Refugees: The Untold Story of Animal Farm (Nov 15 at 7pm; $5–$15), detailing the banned book’s significance to Ukrainians in displaced persons camps in the 1930s.

  1. 222 E 6th St, (between Second and Third Aves)
More info

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"Rebirth: Recent Work by Mariko Mori"

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice
  1. Japan Society 333 E 47th St, between First and Second Aves, 10017
  2. Fri Nov 8 - Sun Jan 12
More info
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