23 Essential New York Museum Shows to See This Fall, From Vija Celmins at the Met to Pope.L at MoMA

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Pope.L, The Great White Way, 22 miles, 9 years, 1 street (2000–09), performance. Photo © Pope.L, courtesy of the artist and Mitchell–Innes & Nash, New York.

We’ve already put together guides to knockout institutional shows to see across the US this fall and what you need to check out in Europe, so now it’s time to take a look at what’s going on this season in museums in New York, where you’re never far from a great exhibition.


Paris, Capital of Fashion” at Museum at FIT
September 6, 2019–January 4, 2020

Installation view, "Paris, Capital of Fashion" at FIT Museum. Courtesy of FIT.

Installation view, “Paris, Capital of Fashion” at FIT Museum. Courtesy of FIT.

This show of around 100 objects looks at Paris as the center of the fashion World. Tracing its history from 18th-century pre-Revolutionary Versailles through the haute couture of more recent days, the exhibition puts a historical frame around a phenomenon that continues to boom.

The Museum at FIT is located at 227 West 27th Street; general admission is free.


Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection” at the Grey Art Gallery
September 10–December 7, 2019

Eren Eyüboğlu, <i>Design for Mosaic</i> (1957). Courtesy of Grey Art Gallery.

Eren Eyüboğlu, Design for Mosaic (1957). Courtesy of Grey Art Gallery.

Drawing from the esteemed holdings of Modern Asian and Middle Eastern art from the Abby Weed Grey collection, this show will include between 30 and 40 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from multiple countries, exploring nuances of heritage and identity. Among the artists included are Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and Nevzat Akoral.

The Grey Art Gallery is located at 100 Washington Square East; general admission is $5 suggested donation. 


Wang Dongling: Ink in Motion” at the Asia Society
September 10, 2019–January 5, 2020

Wang Dongling, Zhuang Zi – Peripatetic 庄子·逍遥游 (2017). Courtesy of the artist.

Perhaps the most well-known and celebrated living calligrapher, Wang Dongling will debut a new painting, Laozi, Dao De Jing, Chapter I & II, in this exhibition. His signature “chaos script” style renders the elegant lettering almost unreadable, flexing ancient technique towards nearly pure abstraction.

The Asia Society is located at 725 Park Avenue; general admission is $12.


Creatures from the Land of Thra: Character Design for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” at the Museum of the Moving Image
September 11, 2019–February 23, 2020

<em>The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance</em>, film still. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, film still. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

The Museum of the Moving Image’s permanent Jim Henson exhibition is a celebration of the artist, filmmaker, and puppeteer’s storied career. Now, in honor of the release of The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Netflix’s prequel to the 1982 Henson film, The Dark Crystal, the museum presents concept art, maquettes, puppets, and behind-the-scenes images for the new film.

The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria, Queens; general admission is $15.


The World of Anna Sui” at the Museum of Arts and Design
September 12, 2019–February 23, 2020

Models at an Anna Sui fashion show. Courtesy of Museum of Arts and Design.

Designer Anna Sui has been widely respected in the fashion world for decades, and is known for her particular way of imparting an entire narrative with her collections. This show will trace her career, from her punk-inflected ready-to-wear clothes, to her art-inspired couture.

The Museum of Arts and Design is located at 2 Columbus Circle; general admission is $16.


Memory Palaces: Inside the Collection of Audrey B. Heckler” at the American Folk Art Museum
September 17, 2019–January 26, 2020

Anna Zemánková, <em>Untitled</em>. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

Anna Zemánková, Untitled. Courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum.

The American Folk Art Museum has scored a major coup with this exhibition of works from the collection of Audrey B. Heckler, who has bought some 500 artworks by self-taught since 1993. Two years ago, New York dealer Sara Kay held a gem of a show drawn exclusively from Heckler’s holdings, but the Folk Art museum will go much bigger, showcasing some 160 works by more than 70 artists, including Aloïse Corbaz, Martín Ramírez, Thornton Dial, and Anna Zemánková.

The American Folk Art Museum is located at 2 Lincoln Square; admission is free.


Bertoldo di Giovanni: The Renaissance of Sculpture in Medici Florence” at the Frick Collection
September 18, 2019–January 12, 2020

Bertoldo di Giovanni, <i>Shield Bearer</i> [detail] (early 1470s). Courtesy of the Frick Collection.

Bertoldo di Giovanni, Shield Bearer (detail, early 1470s). Courtesy of the Frick Collection.

This exhibition dedicated to the Florentine sculptor Bertoldo di Giovanni will feature more than 20 statues, reliefs, maquettes, and statuettes showing off the style beloved by Lorenzo Medici. Bertoldo learned under the tutelage of Donatello, and passed on his skills to Michelangelo, but outside of Europe, he is less well-known, which makes this show a sure revelation.

The Frick is located at 1 East 70th Street in New York; general admission is $22.


Jason Moran” at the Whitney Museum of American Art
September 20–January 5, 2020

Lorna Simpson, <em>Chess</em> (2013). Photo courtesy of Lorna Simpson and Hauser & Wirth.

Lorna Simpson, Chess (2013). Photo courtesy of Lorna Simpson and Hauser & Wirth.

Jazz musician Jason Moran gets his first museum show, organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where it debuted last year. It features sculptures, drawings, a performance series, and collaborations with famed visual artists such as Joan Jonas, Kara Walker, Lorna Simpson, and Julie Mehretu.

The Whitney Museum of American Art is located at 99 Gansevoort Street; general admission is $25.


Carmen Argote: As Above, So Below” at the New Museum
September 24, 2019–January 5, 2020

Carmen Argote, Manéjese Con Cuidado (2019). Courtesy the artist. Photo: Itzel Hernández Gómez.

This first New York museum solo show for Mexican-born, Los Angeles-based artist Carmen Argote features a selection of paintings, works on paper, and a new sculpture that reflect the architecture and natural environments in Mexico, where she spent time as an artist-in-residence at two programs.

The New Museum is located at 235 Bowery; general admission is $18.


Vija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory” at the Met Breuer
September 24–January 12, 2020

Vija Celmins, Untitled (Ocean) (1977). © Vija Celmins. Photo: Don Ross, courtesy of SFMOMA.

Before the Metropolitan Museum of Art hands the Breuer Building over to the Frick Collection next year, the museum welcomes a retrospective of Latvian-born artist Vija Celmins, organized with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her finely rendered pencil drawings of waves and starry night skies are stunning in their perfect photo realism.

The Met Breuer is located at 945 Madison Avenue; admission is $25.


Henry Chalfant: Art vs. Transit” at the Bronx Museum
September 25, 2019–March 8, 2020

Henry Chalfant, Smily, Ebony Dukes, BS119. Pod and others, Intervale station on the 2’s and 5’s, The Bronx (1979). Courtesy of Eric Firestone Gallery.

Henry Chalfant (along with Martha Cooper) was the greatest documentarian of the rise of graffiti in New York in the 1980s, and his photographs of exuberantly painted subway cars serve as a perfect summary of the moment in New York City. The transit cars have long been buffed clean and replaced, but Chalfant’s images capture the epoch-making works of Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, Seen, Dondi, and other legendary artists.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts is located at 1040 Grand Concourse in the Bronx; general admission is free.


Urban Indian: Native New York Now” at the Museum of the City of New York
September 27, 2019-February 15, 2020

Artists from the exhibition, Women of Sweetgrass, Cedar and Sage, friends and community members outside the American Indian Community House Gallery, 1985. Photo by Jesse Cooday.

Artists from the exhibition “Women of Sweetgrass, Cedar, and Sage” with friends and community members outside the American Indian Community House Gallery, 1985. Photo by Jesse Cooday.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the founding of American Indian Community House, a community organization dedicated to supporting Native Americans who live in New York, this show highlights the artists and activists whose work touches on the experiences of Native peoples living in the city.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street; suggested general admission is $20.


On Our Backs: The Revolutionary Art of Queer Sex Work” at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art
September 28, 2019–January 19, 2020

Juniper Fleming, <em>Bar at Folies Bergere</em> (2015/2018). Courtesy of the artist, ©Juniper Fleming.

Juniper Fleming, Bar at Folies Bergere (2015/2018). Courtesy of the artist, ©Juniper Fleming.

The Leslie-Lohman Museum never shies away from difficult subjects. This exhibition looks to illuminate queer sex work’s deep connections with art and activism, challenging perceptions that all gay and transgender sex workers necessarily exist on the margins of society. Instead, this is a story of personal agency and self-empowerment.

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, 26 Wooster Street; suggested admission is $10.


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner” at the Neue Galerie
October 3, 2019–January 13, 2020

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, <i>Self-portrait as a Soldier</i> (1915). Courtesy Neue Galerie.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Self-portrait as a Soldier (1915). Courtesy Neue Galerie.

This show focuses on Kirchner’s career between 1907 and 1937, a period in which he traveled across Europe, from Dresden to Berlin and even to Davos. Each city is reflected in his signature and evolving style.

The Neue Galerie is located at 1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street); general admission is $25.


JR: Chronicles” at the Brooklyn Museum
October 4, 2019–May 3, 2020

JR, <i>The Chronicles of New York City</i> (detail, 2018–19). ©️ JR, courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

JR, The Chronicles of New York City (detail, 2018–19). ©️ JR, courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

French artist JR’s Brooklyn Museum outing, his first US museum show, will feature documentation of his early graffiti work and well as his recent monumental photographic portrait murals. A new one, The Chronicles of New York City, featuring over 1,000 denizens of the Big Apple, will be on view, along with audio recordings of his interviews with his subjects.

The Brooklyn Museum is located at 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn; admission is $16.


Pia Camil: Fade Into Black: Sit, chill, look, talk, roll, play, listen, give, take, dance” at the Queens Museum
October 6, 2019–February 16, 2020

Pia Camil, <i>Fade into Black</i> (2018). Courtesy the artist and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Pia Camil, Fade into Black (2018). Courtesy the artist and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

In Pia Camil’s latest project, the Mexican-born artist recycles and alters items of clothing and other textiles to reflect the class difference among the people that produce them and those that purchase (and ultimately dispose of) them. The titular piece, Fade Into Black, is a 341-foot-long curtain made up of found t-shirts.

The Queens Museum is located at New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens; suggested general admission is $8.


The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists” at the Drawing Center
October 11, 2019–January 5, 2020

Sérgio Sister, <em>Impress your feelings with your fingerprint</em> (1970). Photo courtesy of the Drawing Center.

Sérgio Sister, Impress your feelings with your fingerprint (1970). Photo courtesy of the Drawing Center.

Throughout history, prisoners have turned to art-making during prolonged periods of isolation. The Drawing Center takes a look at this phenomena, bringing together historical and contemporary work from World War II-era Japanese American internment camps, Soviet Gulags, Apartheid-era South Africa, and the US government’s Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba, as well as from other prisons from around the world.

The Drawing Center is located at 35 Wooster Street; admission is $5.


member: Pope.L, 1978–2001” at the Museum of Modern Art
October 21, 2019–January 2020

Pope. L. How Much is that Nigger in the Window a.k.a Tompkins Square Crawl. New York, NY 1991. Digital c-print on gold fiber silk paper. 10 by 15 in. 25.4 by 38.1 cm. © Pope. L. Courtesy of the artists and Mitchell – Innes & Nash, New York.

Pope. L. How Much is that Nigger in the Window a.k.a Tompkins Square Crawl. New York, NY (1991). © Pope. L. Courtesy of the artists and Mitchell–Innes & Nash, New York.

When the newly expanded MoMA reopens after a complete overhaul, most of the attention will be focused on the re-hang of the museum’s collection. One of the opening exhibitions, however, will feature the interdisciplinary performance art of Pope.L, who made his reputation with provocative street interventions as his Tompkins Square Crawl a.k.a. How Much Is That Nigger in the Window (1991). The show will follow on the heels of a new urban crawling performance by the artist, Conquest, presented by the Public Art Fund on September 21.

MoMA is located at 11 West 53rd Street; admission is $25.


Illusions of the Photographer: Duane Michals” at the Morgan Library & Museum
October 25, 2019-February 2, 2020

Duane Michals, <i>The Illuminated Man</i> (1968). © Duane Michals, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York.

Duane Michals, The Illuminated Man (detail, 1968). © Duane Michals, Courtesy of DC Moore Gallery, New York.

This show is the first full retrospective on the photographer to be hosted in a New York institution, and also includes an “artist’s choice” selection of examples from the Morgan’s own archive selected by Michals.

The Morgan Library & Museum is located at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street; general admission is $22.


Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
October 29, 2019–January 26, 2020

Félix Vallotton, <em>The Visit (La Visite)</em>, 1899. Photo courtesy of the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Félix Vallotton, The Visit (La Visite) (1899). Photo courtesy of the Kunsthaus Zürich.

Co-organized with the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where it debuted in June, “Painter of Disquiet” makes the case that Swiss painter and printmaker Félix Vallotton has been unfairly overlooked. One of “Les Nabis,” along with the better-known Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, Vallotton captured fin-de-siècle Paris in witty, often subversive woodcuts that reflected his left-wing politics.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue; general admission is $25.


Rachel Feinstein: Maiden, Mother, Crone” at the Jewish Museum
November 1, 2019–March 22, 2020

Rachel Feinstein, Model (2000). Courtesy the artist.

This is the first museum survey for Rachel Feinstein, and includes 30 years-worth of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and videos. As is often the case with her work, female figures appear often, reflecting her interest in exploring ideas of femininity, and how they change from the public to the private realms.

The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St; general admission is $18.


Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011” at MoMA PS1
November 3, 2019–March 1, 2020

Afifa Aleiby, <em>Gulf War</em> (1991). Courtesy the artist.

Afifa Aleiby, Gulf War (1991). Courtesy the artist.

Though the 1991 Gulf War was brief, it touched off a sustained period of US military involvement in Iraq, from the 2003 invasion to the official end of the Iraq War in 2011. The conflict has been a source of inspiration for artists including Paul Chan, Harun Farocki, and the Guerrilla Girls, who have all touched on the reality of the extended conflict as well as attendant ideas of imperialism and violence.

MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Queens; admission is $10.


Shahidul Alam: Truth to Power” at the Rubin Museum of Art
November 8, 2019–May 4, 2020

Shahidul Alam, <em>Smriti Azad, Dhaka</em> (1994). Photo courtesy of Drik.

Shahidul Alam, Smriti Azad, Dhaka (1994). Photo courtesy of Drik.

Bangladeshi photographer, writer, and activist Shahidul Alam gets his first major US museum survey. The artist, who rejects the notion of the so-called “third world,” reframing it as the “majority world,” will show more than 40 images spanning his four-decade career documenting daily life in Bangladesh.

The Rubin is located at 150 West 17th Street; general admission is $19.

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