12 Museum Shows Around the World Worth Traveling for in 2020, Including a Triennial of Millennial Chinese Artists

There is a lot to see around the world this year, so you'll want to keep this comprehensive guide handy.

Elizabeth Peyton, Practice (Yuzuru Hanyu) (2018). © Elizabeth Peyton, courtesy Green Family Collection.

The bro club of Western artists who have had solo shows in mainland China will be disrupted in 2020 when the American painter Elizabeth Peyton makes her Beijing debut.

Her portraits, many of celebrities, are due to go on show at the UCCA Beijing in an exhibition organized by London’s National Portrait Gallery.

Thanks to the private museum, a Chinese audience will also get its first chance to see Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work alongside examples by his New York contemporaries. The exhibition, “Somewhere Downtown,” celebrates the counter-culture that briefly flourished in Manhattan before the lives of several of its leading lights were cut short by the AIDS crisis.

Avant-garde artists’ love affair with Charlie Chaplin will be celebrated at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The most famous film star in the world in the 1920s cast his comedic spell on artists as diverse as Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger, and Dada writers like André Breton. In 1920, the poet Tristan Tzara even announced, tongue-in-cheek, that “Charlot” was becoming a Dadaist.

Here are 12 shows to see around the world in the first half of 2020.


“Atelier E.B.” at the Garage Museum

Atelier E.B.’s Anna Blessmann, Parts Two Plus One (2018) and Markus Selg, Fractal Abyss (Gestürzter) (2009/2018). Photo: Pierre Antoine

WHAT: Atelier E.B. is short for Atelier Edinburgh-Brussels, an artistic duo that consists of Scottish designer Beca Lipscombe and Scottish, Belgium-based artist Lucy McKenzie. Their practice falls somewhere between fashion, design, and art, and has been recently shown at the Serpentine Galleries (in 2018) and at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris last year. For their show at the Garage Museum, Atelier E.B. will continue their two-year research project considering fashion consumers.

WHERE: Moscow, Russia

WHEN: January 31–May 10


“Have You Seen a Horizon Lately?” at MACAAL

Akira Ikezoe, Coconut Heads around the Ceramic Studio(2019). Image courtesy of the artist and Proyectos Ultravioleta gallery.

Akira Ikezoe, Coconut Heads around the Ceramic Studio (2019). Image courtesy of the artist and Proyectos Ultravioleta gallery.

WHAT: This group show at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden draws its title from a Yoko Ono song, and aims to delve into the politics of place. Ono’s work will be included, alongside examples by Canadian-French artist Kapwani Kiwanga and Moroccan artist Amina Benbouchta, among others. Through existing works and new commissions, viewers will be invited to question their lived environment and take a different perspective on the world.

WHERE: Marrakech, Morocco

WHEN: February 25–July 19


“Manifesto” at Museum MACAN

Julien Rosefeldt, Manifesto "Manifesto (André Breton, 1924) Kopie". Courtesy Museum MACAN.

Julian Rosefeldt, Manifesto “Manifesto (André Breton, 1924) Kopie”. Courtesy Museum MACAN.

WHAT: The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Jakarta will present German artist Julian Rosefeldt’s 13-channel film presentation, Manifesto (2015). The work sees the actor Cate Blanchett assume 12 different roles, as she reads various artists’ manifestos from the 20th century. Visitors can see Blanchett perform writings by artists, poets, architects, performers, and filmmakers from the Dada, Fluxus, and Surrealist movements, among others.

WHERE: Jakarta, Indonesia

WHEN: February 29–May 31


“Yan Xing” at UCCA

Yan Xing, Dangerous Afternoon(2017). Exhibition view, Kunsthalle Basel. Image courtesy UCCA Beijing.

Yan Xing, Dangerous Afternoon (2017). Exhibition view, Kunsthalle Basel. Image courtesy UCCA Beijing.

WHAT: Yan Xing is an interdisciplinary artist whose works reflects on how history is constructed. For the past two years, Yan has been looking back at the post-war movements of China’s remote southwest, and he has charted this history along an axis of post-war Western art history. He has compiled a wide-ranging survey based on his research, and will be exhibiting new sculptures, paintings, and murals. 

WHERE: Beijing, China

WHEN: March 13–June 17


“Ahmet Ögüt: No Poem Loves Its Poet” at YARAT

Ahmet Ögüt, Still from <i>Tolstoy Street: No Poem Loves Its Poet</i> (2020) March 19– June 2 at YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan.

Ahmet Ögüt, Still from Tolstoy Street (2020).

WHAT: The Turkish conceptual artist Ahmet Ögüt is being given a solo show at YARAT in Baku, where the artist will present newly commissioned sculptures and video works. Ögüt’s interdisciplinary practice involves collaborations with different partners in order to address complex social issues from migration to civil unrest, all the while maintaining a sense of humor.

WHERE: Baku, Azerbaijan

WHEN: March 19–June 2


“Under the Stars” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Gulumbu Yunupingu Ganyu (2009). Copyright Gulumbu Yunupingu, Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala. Licensed by Copyright Agency (left). Shaun Gladwell Planet and stars sequence: Barrier Highway (video still) (2009). Copyright Shaun Gladwell.

Gulumbu Yunupingu, Ganyu (2009, left) and Shaun Gladwell’s Barrier Highway (right, video still, 2009).

WHAT: How does an Australian museum commemorate the arrival of Captain Cook on the continent 250 years ago? This show focuses on the astronomical aspect of the epic voyage undertaken by the British naval explorer—or invader, depending on you point of view. Cook’s mission was twofold: to document the transit of Venus and plant the British flag on the “unknown southern land.” The exhibition features works by Indigenous Australian artists alongside ones by non-Indigenous people, with an emphasis on commonalities and connections, rather than European colonization. 

WHERE: Sydney, Australia

WHEN: March 21–September 20


“Stars: Six Contemporary Artists From Japan to the World” at the Mori Art Museum

Yayoi Kusama, <i>Pink Boat</i>(1992). Collection: Nagoya City Art Museum.

Yayoi Kusama, Pink Boat (1992). Collection: Nagoya City Art Museum.

WHAT: The Tokyo museum has chosen six artists whose work reverberated outside of Japan after World War II, when the country was experiencing rapid economic growth and internationalization. The show will explore the work of Yayoi Kusama, Lee Ufan, Tatsuo Miyajima, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, and Hiroshi Sugimoto and promises to look at each artist’s work in a global context.

WHERE: Tokyo, Japan

WHEN: April 23–September 6


“Camille Henrot” at National Gallery of Victoria

Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue (2013). Image courtesy the artists and the Guggenheim.

Camille Henrot, Grosse Fatigue (2013). Image courtesy the artists and the Guggenheim.

WHAT: For her first major show in Australia, the French artist will present her acclaimed The Pale Fox installation at the NGV in Melbourne. The show will feature other key works from the past decade, such as her video Grosse Fatigue, which won the Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Henrot’s diverse practice includes sculpture, painting, drawing, and video, where she adeptly combines humor and mythology with other social themes.

WHERE: Melbourne, Australia

WHEN: May 22–October (no closing date announced)


“Somewhere Downtown” at UCCA

The façade of UCCA. Image courtesy UCCA.

The façade of UCCA. Image courtesy UCCA.

WHAT: This exhibition will mark the first time that works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring will be shown on the mainland. “Somewhere Downtown” celebrates 1980s New York, a period of edgy creativity and fun amid crime, deprivation, and the AIDS crisis, which claimed the lives of Haring, David Wojnarowicz, and the Chinese-American artist Tseng Kwong Chi. The epidemic was called “No Name Fever” in China as officials attempted to suppress news of its spread.

WHERE: Beijing, China

WHEN: May 30–August 30


“Charlie Chaplin: When Art Met Cinema” at the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Charlie Chaplin in the 1936 film Modern Times. Via Wikimedia.

WHAT: The actor, director, and producer Charlie Chaplin had a profound impact on art. This exhibition will look specifically at his influence on his artistic contemporaries, such as Marc Chagall and Fernand Léger, through around 100 paintings, drawings, and sculptures, as well as archival photographs and film scenes.

WHERE: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

WHEN: April 15–July 11


“Austin Lee: Human Nature” at M WOODS

Austin Lee, mr austin (2019). Courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin.

WHAT: Austin Lee will have a big debut in China, but also his largest show to date, at M WOODS with the exhibition “Human Nature.” The New York artist has been garnering a lot of attention lately for his process-based drawings and sculptures that seem at once strangely digitalized and handmade. For his show in Beijing, there will be new paintings featuring his iconic, motley band of characters, including anthropomorphic flowers and horses. There will also be three new commissioned works, including a public sculpture.

WHERE: Beijing, China

WHEN: March 13–June 2020


“How Do We Begin” at the X Museum

Curator Poppy Dongxue Wu. Courtesy of the X Museum.

WHAT: This show, titled “How Do We Begin,” is billed as the first edition of a “three-year rhythmic review of Chinese contemporary art and its development with a focus on emerging artists.” Organized by curator Poppy Dongxue Wu, it will feature 33 emerging Chinese artists under the age of 40, from Cui Jie, best known for her futuristic cityscapes, to Guan Xiao, who makes humorous installations inhabited by quirky bronze sculptures.

WHERE: Beijing, China

WHEN: March 17–July 5 (no closing date announced)

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