Checking out the best museum exhibitions NYC has to offer is one of the best things to do on a rainy day—or when it’s hot-as-hell outside and you're in need of things to do indoors. With specialties ranging from modern art to mathematics, sex to outer space, there are Museums in NYC for every aesthetic and intellectual curiosity. To help you find the exact stimulation you seek, our critics have rounded up the very best in New York City right now. Want a dose of culture without spending a penny? There are also plenty of free museum days to check out in the city.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Museums in NYC
Best museum exhibitions in NYC
Every month, Brooklyn Museum opens its doors for a free day of talks, performances, art workshops and curator-led tours of exhibitions. This installment celebrates women of color with performances from Michiyaya Dance and Sabine Blaizin, book talks on Black Girls Rock! and on Janet Mock's Surpassing Certainty, curator tours and more.
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, Museum of Moving Image has provided the ultimate treat: a permanent exhibition featuring more than 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.
Since its debut in 1979, Judy Chicago’s tribute to women The Dinner Party has been a staple of feminist art and a favorite for visitors to the Brooklyn Museum. Through diaries, sketches, test plates and more, see how Chicago assembled the 39 multimedia dishes that made history.
This nonprofit artist collaboration shares the stories of 16 young immigrant women through photographs taken in iconic NYC locations, and through testimonials about their experiences of coming to the United States and creating a life in the city.
The costumes. The getups. The Maggie Smith burns. Immerse yourself in the world of the post-Edwardian TV phenomenon at this show, which features more than 50 original costumes, along with Downton Abbey sets. Gawk at the table settings, authentic artifacts and more at this comprehensive exhibition.
This new exhibit at the Rubin Museum explores the story of Padmasambhava, an 8th century master of tantra credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The exhibit features 41 works made between the 13th and 20th centuries, which visitors can explore using interactive technology like Augmented Reality tablets. Padmasambhava's legends carry lessons about impermanence and triumph over obstacles—important stuff to remember these days.
The International Center of Photography presents famed British photographer Edmund Clark new exhibition, Edmund Clark: The Day the Music Died, showcasing photographic, video, and installation work explores the threat of international terrorism. The exhibit, which will highlight Clark's ten years shooting the global War on Terror, will run through May 6.
The International Center of Photography presents Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, a photographic look at a dark time in our country's history when Japanese Americans were placed in incarceration camps during World War II. Running through May 6, the exhibit reexamines this history and tells the stories of the individuals whose lives were upended.
Controversial photographer Nobuyoshi Araki is most known for his works focusing on the Japanese bondage style known as kinbaku-bi, but the septuagenarian has photographed a variety of subjects over the past 50 years, including his honeymoon with his wife and her deterioration as she succumbed to ovarian cancer. The result is an immense body of work that explores intimacy, sentimentality and mortality. Check out this MoSEX exhibit to view over 150 prints, 500 polaroids and 400 books, plus commentary from his collaborators and friends.