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A sculpture including a giant tire, along with several paintings at The Brooklyn Museum.
Photograph: By Danny Perez / Courtesy of The Brooklyn Museum

The best museum exhibitions in NYC right now

Searching for the best New York museum exhibitions and shows? We have you covered.

Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Contributors
Shaye Weaver
&
Ian Kumamoto
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New York City has tons of things going for it, from incredible buildings to breathtaking parks. But surely, the top of the list includes NYC’s vast array of museums and galleries, covering every field of culture and knowledge: There are quirky museums and interactive museums, free museums and world renowned art institutions like the Met. Between them, they offer so many exhibitions of every variety and taste that it's hard to keep track of them. But if you’ve starting to suffer a sudden attack of FOMA (that's fear of missing art ;) ), don't worry! We've got you covered with our select list of the best museum exhibitions in NYC.

Don't waste any time—head to NYC's best museum exhibits now!

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to museums in NYC

Best museum exhibitions in NYC

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Art nerds can’t wait until the Whitney Biennial, which happens every two years. It’s always a gigantic showcase of some of the coolest, newest, and most provocative art at a big New York City museum. It’s the Whitney Museum of American Art’s landmark exhibition series and the longest-running survey of American Art, on view through August 11.

This year, the Biennial is themed “Even Better Than The Real Thing” and features the work of 71 artists and collectives. It does a lot in this iteration. The survey examines rapidly advancing technologies and machine learning tools; the body and subjectivity as it pertains to queer identity, body sovereignty, motherhood, the aging body, and the trans body; material agency and the use of unstable media; and lots more.

Overarching is the focus on “the real,” an extremely present topic these days with the onslaught of incorrect ChatGPT answers, horrifying deep fakes and art made by AI. 

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“We choose to go to the Moon,” President John F. Kennedy’s voice booms through speakers welcoming visitors to the massive new Space Race-themed exhibit at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. With archival speeches, historic documents, and incredible space equipment, the exhibit whisks visitors back to the 1960s, an era when humanity first ventured into the unknown. 

"Apollo: When We Went to the Moon" is on view at the Intrepid Museum (that's the gigantic aircraft carrier in Hell's Kitchen along the Hudson River) through September 2. At 9,000 square feet, it's the largest temporary exhibit in the museum's history.

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The Harlem Renaissance had an indisputable impact on American culture, but chances are that you probably didn’t spend much time learning about it in school. That’s because, even though it shaped global literature, music, and art, Black Americans’ historical contributions have been systematically erased or gone unacknowledged for centuries.

A groundbreaking exhibit opening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art hopes to be a part of rectifying the erasure and celebrating Black artists and intellectuals in its newest exhibit. "The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism." 

The exhibit presents 160 works by Black artists from the Harlem Renaissance and delves into many different aspects of the movement, mostly through the lens of paintings and sculpture. You can get your tickets here; the show's on view through July 28.

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The author and illustrator who ignited our childhood imaginations with tales of cuddly bunnies, mischievous squirrels and daring ducks is getting a well-deserved spotlight in NYC.

The wholesome and beautiful works of beloved children’s author and land conservationist Beatrix Potter are now on view at The Morgan Library & Museum through June 9.

Beatrix Potter: Drawn to Nature” is the most darling show in the city right now. The exhibition even features a delightful recreation of Potter’s home that you can actually sit and read in. 

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"Giants," the Brooklyn Museum's latest exhibition, fits its name in many facets. First of all, the show relies on the art collection of two titans in the music industry, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean). Much of the artwork itself is massive, taking over major swaths of the museum. The exhibition features artists who have made and continue to make a significant impact on the art world and contemporary culture.

Finally, and most importantly, the exhibit encourages big conversations that celebrate Blackness, critique society, and imagine a collective future. "Giants: Art from the Dean Collection of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys" opens on February 10 and runs through July 7, 2024. The show features 98 artworks by Black American, African, and African diasporic artists including Gordon Parks, Kehinde Wiley, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mickalene Thomas, Hassan Hajjaj, Barkley L. Hendricks, Lorna Simpson, and Amy Sherald. 

"The Deans consider all of the artists in the show as giants. They have these very strong relationships with the artists that they collect. It's not about transaction. It's about being stewards and advocates and supporters of these artists," Brooklyn Museum curator Kimberli Gant told Time Out New York.

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Poster House, the country's first museum dedicated entirely to the global history of posters, turns its lens on its hometown for its latest exhibit. "Wonder City of the World: New York City Travel Posters," highlights 80 works that capture NYC's landmarks in vibrant color and detail. 

The exhibit explores how New York City was represented to thousands of travelers, immigrants, and tourists during the 20th century. A 19th century marketing strategy coined the phrase "Wonder City," and it appeared in dozens of newspaper and magazine advertisements, as well as articles, postcards and souvenir booklets. New York’s massive growth during this time ultimately led to the creation of more travel posters than were designed for any other city in the world. The images included scenes of the city as seen from the water, from the ground, and, eventually, from the air. 

The show was curated by Nicholas D. Lowry, and it's on view through September 8.

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The Harlem Renaissance changed the trajectory of American culture, and no other artist encapsulates the spirit of that era better than poet Langston Hughes. He wrote unapologetically about Black life at a time when segregation was law and few Black artists were allowed into the American cultural zeitgeist.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is honoring Hughes and his friendship with photographer, filmmaker, and U.S. Foreign Service Officer Griffith J. Davis in its exhibit "The Ways of Langston Hughes." The free exhibit at the Schomburg Center's Latimer Gallery in Harlem will include photographs of Hughes and Davis, who met in Atlanta, as well as more of Hughes' friendships through letters, artwork and other memorabilia. See it through July 8.

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With their vibrant colors, delicate ruffles, and dramatic shapes, orchids love to show off their looks. This spring, the New York Botanical Garden is giving the divas of the plant world their moment in the spotlight as part of “The Orchid Show: Florals in Fashion.”

Three up-and-coming designers created massive installations inspired by these fashionable flowers. In one, you'll see orchids turned into avant-garde clothing. Another features a regal orchid queen. The final section draws upon AI to create anthropomorphic creatures who don floral outfits. Florals in Fashion is on view through April 21 at NYBG in the Bronx; adult tickets cost $35.

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For more than a century, the Statue of Liberty has offered inspiration as a beacon of freedom, equality, and democracy. And for just as long, she has also served as an inspiration for tattoo artists. 

A new exhibit at City Reliquary, a jewel box of a museum in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, features vintage State of Liberty tattoos. As the first show devoted to Lady Liberty ink, it also traces tattooing history in NYC since the 1800s. "Liberty the Tattooed Lady: The Great Bartholdi Statue as Depicted in Tattooing" is now open through January 12, 2025.

The exhibition spotlights antique flash, vintage photographs, drawings, and other ephemera that show how Lady Liberty has been a popular subject in tattooing for as long as she’s stood in New York Harbor. You'll even get to see vintage tattoo art that's never been on display before.

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Majestic, incredible elephants are getting the spotlight in a new exhibit at The American Museum of Natural History. "The Secret World of Elephants" showcases both modern and ancient elephants, offering visitors a chance to see a full-scale model of a woolly mammoth, learn about what elephants eat, touch an elephant's tooth, listen to elephant calls and more.

The exhibition is now open in the museum’s LeFrak Family Gallery. An additional ticket is required to visit the exhibit; museum members can visit for free.

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Fourteen international artists have come together for Fotografiska New York’s current exhibition Human / Nature: Encountering Ourselves in the Natural World, a mix of photographs, sculptures, and immersive video installations. These works from the likes of David Ụzọchukwu, Lewis Miller, Ori Gerscht, and more explore the complex relationship between Earth and its human inhabitants," per a press release.

The show is open through Saturday, May 18.

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Deep-dive into the works of American ceramist and painter Toshiko Takaezu with this retrospective and monograph coming to the Noguchi Museum in Queens from March 20 to July 28, 2024.

The first nationally touring retrospective of Takaezu’s work in twenty years, Toshiko Takaezu: Worlds Within will feature about 200 pieces from private and public collections around the country, including her rarely-seen acrylic paintings and weavings, ceramic sculptures including her signature “closed forms,” Moons, Garden Seats, Trees, and select works from her late masterpiece, the Star Series. 

Following its presentation at The Noguchi Museum, the exhibition—which is organized with assistance from the Toshiko Takaezu Foundation and the Takaezu familywill travel to several additional venues across the United States.

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Taking over the Asia Society from February 13 through August 11, 2024, this immersive photography and video exhibition will bring together the works of more than 50 photographers and video artists from China and around the world to visualize the causes and consequences of the climate crisis.

The showwhich will take attendees from deep within coal mines to the melting glaciers of the greater Himalaya—is co-curated by photographer Susan Meiselas and international exhibition designer Jeroen de Vries, and led by Orville Schell, Asia Society Vice President and Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations.

Along with the artworks themselves, the exhibition will feature a series of speaker events, performances, films and more throughout the run of the exhibition. 

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It’s no secret that the U.S. is particularly astute at obscuring history it's not very proud of, which has left us with limited knowledge about this country’s past. Among the historical figures who were never given their flowers were the Black Angels, a group of nurses who risked their lives to take care of tuberculosis patients at Sea View Hospital in Staten Island and who were an important part of reducing deaths from the bacterial disease in the U.S. 

Now, you can learn more about the nurses at the Staten Island Museum’s newest exhibition, “Taking Care: The Black Angels of Sea View Hospital,” which highlights the stories of these little-known figures of New York City’s history.

In 1951, Sea View Hospital tested a new treatment for tuberculosis, an illness which killed one out of every seven people living in the United States in the 19th century

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Explore "The End of Fossil Fuel," the latest pop-up from the NYC Climate Museum. It's free to visit in Soho and offers a bevy of eye-opening activities for all ages.

Inside the gallery, a collection of maps will put climate change issues into perspective, alongside text panels about the history of the fossil fuel industry. The exhibits trace the origins of the climate and inequality crises and how we got to where we are today. Other activations include a sticker wall where visitors commit to specific climate actions and a kids' corner with books and drawing materials.

Find the pop-up at 105 Wooster Street in Soho through April 30, 2024. The museum is free to visit and open to all. It's open Wednesdays-Sundays from 1-6pm. 

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Weaving is one of the oldest art forms in human history, dating back more than 10,000 years, but you can see the ancient craft from a news perspective in this new exhibition at the Met. Now through June 16, textiles from four modern practitioners—Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney and Olga de Amaral—will be showcased alongside pieces by Andean artists from the first millennium BCE to the 16th century.

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art will feature more than 50 works, curated by Iria Candela (Estrellita B. Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art) and Joanne Pillsbury (Andrall E.Pearson Curator of the Arts of the Ancient Americas in The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing).

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Eighty years ago, as World War II raged on, Danish citizens worked together to ferry 7,000 Jewish people to safety, keeping them out of concentration camps. 

Now, New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is commemorating that anniversary, known as one of the most effective examples of mass resistance in modern history. "Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark," the museum’s first exhibition developed for elementary-age students, is now opne.

The exhibit focuses on themes of separation, bravery and resilience to help children ages 9+ reflect on the dangers of prejudice and on their own potential for courageous collective action. 

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As she donned the black robe for her role on the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was known to adorn the traditional garment with a wide array of collars and necklaces. 

Now, her fashion is getting the spotlight in a new photography exhibit called "RBG Collars: Photographs by Elinor Carucci." See it at The Jewish Museum on the Upper East Side through May 28, 2024. 

The installation features two dozen photographs of the late justice’s collars and necklaces taken shortly after Ginsburg died in 2020. This is the first time the Carucci’s photographs are being shown at the Jewish Museum since the images were acquired in 2021.

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A major exhibit by the Museum of the City of New York titled "This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture" explores the love-hate relationship with NYC through the lenses of visual art, television, film, music, theater, literature and fashion. The exhibition, which celebrates the museum's centennial, is now open in Manhattan through mid 2024.

As the museum celebrates 100 years, it's exploring several threads through This Is New York: The city's mighty cultural energy in 1923; the five boroughs as a constant inspiration for creatives; and New Yorkers' complicated relationship with the city of grit, grime and glamour.

"There’s this kind of love and hate around New York City. There’s that saying that it’s the most American city and the least American city. This is warts and all," Lilly Tuttle, curator at the Museum of the City of New York, told Time Out. "It’s the idea that the city is this engine that generates this reflection and this creative interpretation—full of contradictions."

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The phrase “women’s work” is often used derisively to indicate labor that’s seen as “less than,” but a new exhibit at New-York Historical Society reclaims that phrase. Aptly titled "Women's Work," the show chronicles the history of women's contributions to labor and how those efforts are both inherently political and essential to American society. 

The exhibit features dozens of objects in the museum's collection from indenture documents to medical kits to military uniforms. With items ranging from the 1740s to today, the show celebrates the strides society has made in equality while not shying away from highlighting the gender-based inequalities that persist today.

"Women's Work" is on view through August 18, 2024 in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery at New-York Historical Society on the Upper West Side. 

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After nearly a decade of planning, designing and building, the massive new wing at the American Museum of Natural History is now open to the public. The architecturally stunning, 230,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation houses scientific wonders—including a butterfly vivarium, an insectarium and a 360-degree immersive experience.

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From amazing costumes to Broadway history to fun photo opps, this long-awaited new museum is a must-see for theater buffs.  

You can expect the new museum to highlight over 500 individual productions from the 1700s all the way to the present. 

Among the standout offerings: A special exhibit dubbed "The Making of a Broadway Show," which honors the on- and off-stage community that helps bring plays and musicals to life multiple times a week. 

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Your Roblox avatar can now get a whole new wardrobe, including an ancient Greek helmet, Japanese warrior armor and even Vincent van Gogh’s straw hat, courtesy of this new app created by The Met museum and Verizon. 

The free app, called Replica, allows visitors to scan certain objects at the museum, which are then turned into digital images that can be applied in the Roblox online gaming platform. The augmented reality initiative was designed as a way to attract kids to The Met, museum spokesman Kenneth Weine said, but collecting the digital items promises fun for all ages. 

Inside the museum, 37 objects are now a part of the Replica app, and finding each one sets visitors on a scavenger hunt throughout the galleries. Objects are scattered throughout the museum in sections including Arms and Armor, The American Wing, Egyptian Art and several more. 

Here's more about how it works. 

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In her first solo museum exhibition, sculptor Auriea Harvey will bring her net-based interactives and augmented reality sculptures to the Museum of the Moving Image from February through June. Titled Auriea Harvey: My Veins Are the Wires, My Body Is Your Keyboard, the showcase will highlight a collection of more than 40 works from Harvey’s nearly four-decade career, including oversized playable projections of her video games, intricate 3D-printed pieces and even early works plucked from her handbound sketchbooks. 

Regina Harsanyi, the Museum’s Associate Curator of Media Arts who organized the exhibition, notes: “Auriea Harvey has persistently reimagined and redefined the creative boundaries of networked technologies for more than three decades. She possesses a remarkable sensitivity to how the digital revolution of the 1990s spawned a societal shift in the way humans connect.”

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Can cow manure be turned into casings for loudspeakers and lamps? MoMA’s latest exhibition says “yes.”

“Life Cycles: The Materials of Contemporary Design” is now open on the museum’s street-level gallery. The exhibit explores the ways designers can repurpose the materials around us to extend their life cycle and promote environmental preservation. Approximately 80 pieces will be on display, including bricks made from crop waste and fungi mycelium and panels made from corn husks. 

The exhibition, curated by Paola Antonelli, will be on display until July 7, 2024.

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As the Revolutionary War came to a close, British Loyalists and soldiers evacuated the colonies in droves. But the evacuation was more complicated for Black Loyalists, some of whom joined the British cause in response to offers of freedom. 

In 1783, the new government formed a special committee to review the eligibility of some Black Loyalists to evacuate with the British Army, and that committee met at Fraunces Tavern in Lower Manhattan. A new permanent exhibit at the Fraunces Tavern Museum explores this important moment in history. 

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Hundreds of items have been pulled from the New York Public Library's expansive and centuries-spanning archive to be put on display—many of them for the first time—in a permanent exhibition called "The Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures."

Inside the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and its beautiful Gottesman Hall, are more than 250 unique and rare items culled from its research centers spanning 4,000 years of history and includes a wide range of history-making pieces, including the only surviving letter from Christoper Columbus announcing his "discovery" of the Americas to King Ferdinand’s court and the first Gutenberg Bible brought over to the Americas.

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Journey back in time to the Lower East Side at the turn of the century. A new exhibit at The Museum at Eldridge Street introduces the often-overlooked stories of 29 women who lived or worked in the neighborhood. 

The exhibition, titled "28 Remarkable Women...and One Scoundrel" features mixed media portraits by artist Adrienne Ottenberg, which are printed on silk and cotton banners. They're hung throughout the museum's gallery and historic sanctuary. Stories about the women highlight the work, life, and impact they made culturally, on social justice movements, and more.

Those featured in the exhibition include:

  • Political activist Frances Perkins, who upon witnessing the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, took on an influential role in the worker's rights advocacy movement. That led her to eventually become President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor—the first-ever woman cabinet member.
  • Suffragist and activist Mabel Ping-Hua Lee who campaigned for women’s rights to vote and was the first Chinese woman in the U.S. to earn her doctorate.
  • Public healthcare worker Elizabeth Tyler, who was the first Black nurse hired at Henry Street Settlement. She went on later to establish the Stillman House Settlement on Manhattan's West Side, which provided health care and social services to the Black community in San Juan Hill.

See the show at the Lower East Side venue through May 5, 2024. The museum is open Sunday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $15/adult; pay-what-you-wish admission is offered on Monday and Fridays. Reserve in advance here.

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Can you imagine how grim our world would be without the influence of Jim Henson? For those of us who learned comedy, whimsy and even literacy from Sesame Street and the Muppet franchise, the Museum of the Moving Image has provided the ultimate treat: a permanent exhibition featuring over 47 Muppet and puppet characters; 27 screens of archival footage from The Dark Crystal, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock and beyond; and stories of how the great genius and his architects brought to life some of our favorite characters.

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The energy in INTER_, Manhattan’s newest art experience, feels more like a meditation retreat than a typical gallery—and that’s by design. 

The experiential, multi-sensory museum now open in Soho invites visitors into a heightened state of contemplative awareness through a sound bath, light installations and aspects of meditation all combined with interactive digital art. 

INTER_ is now open at 415 Broadway. Tickets—which start at $36 for adults and $27 for kids 12 and under—can be purchased here. (Time Out readers get a discount with code TIMEOUT15.)

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