Here Are 21 Highly Anticipated, Mind-Expanding Museum Exhibitions to Seek Out Across the US in 2020
You won't want to miss these shows.
There are a bevy of significant museum shows opening across the country in the first half of 2020, ranging from a provocative examination of AI art in San Francisco to a historic survey of El Greco in Chicago. Here’s everything you need to know about the exhibitions we are looking forward to most.
“Tschabalala Self: Out of Body” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
January 20–July 5, 2020
Interest in the 30-year-old artist has reached a fever pitch, with skyrocketing prices at auction and a solid footing within the institutional landscape. For her largest exhibition to date, and her first in Boston, Self has interpreted her life in Harlem through the lens of social issues and everyday bodies. Her work is rooted in figuration, but she adds whimsical colors and formally impressive strokes that give life to her portraits and sculptures.
The ICA Boston is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive Boston, Massachusetts; general admission is $15.
“Tishan Hsu: Liquid Circuit” at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
January 26–April 19, 2020
The first US museum survey for Tishan Hsu, who trained as an architect at MIT, was organized by SculptureCenter in Queens, and will now be making its West Coast debut. Curator Sohrab Mohebbi makes the case that Hsu is an artist who was ahead of his time, making works back in the 1980s that already considered the dangerous implications of artificial intelligence and other technological advances.
The Hammer is located at 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, California; admission is free.
“Ellen Lesperance: Velvet Fist” at the Baltimore Museum of Art
January 26–June 28, 2020
Ellen Lesperance has dedicated her practice to translating knitting patterns into paintings, with the aim of developing an art form separate from the male-dominated tradition of figurative painting. Her BMA show features works from her “Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp” series, inspired by feminist separatists’ protest garments, worn to speak out against nuclear weapons being stored in Berkshire, England.
The BMA is located at 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore, Maryland; admission is free.
“Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe: Tabernacles for Trying Times” at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine
February 7–June 7, 2020
Partners Carrie Moyer and Sheila Pepe will get their first major joint museum show this February. The Portland Museum of Art in Maine has commissioned the artists to collaborate on a site-specific installation, for which they’ll create a kind of custom tabernacle for their own brand of spiritual and communal dialogue.
The Portland Museum of Art is located at 7 Congress Square, Portland, Maine; general admission is $18.
“Volcano! Mount St. Helens in Art” at the Portland Art Museum, Oregon
February 8–May 17, 2020
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Portland Art Museum has organized a show about the volcano’s influence on artists throughout the region, from Native Americans who made objects carved from obsidian, to landscape painters of the 19th century, like Albert Bierstadt. Reactions to the 1980 blast, including powerful documentary photography, are paired with recent works about the volcano’s continued destructive potential.
The Portland Art Museum is located at 1219 Southwest Park Avenue in Portland, Oregon; general admission is $20.
“Dawoud Bey: An American Project” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
February 15–May 25, 2020
American photographer Dawoud Bey rose to prominence in recent years for his stirring, insightful depictions of largely unseen communities. In this retrospective, Bey’s historically inspired projects, such as “The Birmingham Project,” which commemorates the devastating 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, are set alongside his more recent landscape photographs, to give viewers a comprehensive look at his work.
SFMOMA is located at 151 Third Street, San Francisco. General admission is $25.
“Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí” at the Saint Louis Art Museum
February 16–May 17, 2020
Fresh from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where it was co-curated and is on view through January 2012, this exhibition is the first to showcase the legacy of 19th-century Barbizon School painter Jean-François Millet (1814–1875). Not exactly overlooked today, Millet nevertheless has been somewhat overshadowed by the Modern painters who came after him. Among those he influenced are such A-list names as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Winslow Homer, and Salvador Dalí, as well as Georges Seurat, Edvard Munch, and Paula Modersohn-Becker.
The Saint Louis Art Museum is located at One Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri; general admission to the special exhibition is $15.
“Ree Morton: The Plant That Heals May Also Poison” at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
February 16–June 14, 2020
Ree Morton hasn’t had a major US museum show in nearly 40 years, making this presentation of her drawings, paintings, sculptures, and installations—which boldly claim space for so-called sentimental subjects, such as love, friendship, and motherhood—long overdue.
The ICA LA is located at 1717 East 7th Street; Los Angeles, California; admission is free.
“Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI” at the de Young Museum, San Francisco
February 22–October 25, 2020
Artists tackle our growing anxiety about technology in this forward-looking group show featuring Trevor Paglen, Hito Steyerl, and Pierre Huyghe. Many of the works highlight the ways in which the “uncanny valley,” a term for our sense of estrangement from robots that look too much like us, has expanded to include behavioral engineering and automation, which increasingly replicates human behavior—with mixed results.
The de Young Museum is located at Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, California; general admission is $15.
“Francis Bacon: Late Paintings” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
February 23–May 25, 2020
Spanning the last two decades of Frances Bacon’s career, from 1971 to 1991, this exhibition brings together roughly 40 paintings, including some of his celebrated monumental triptychs. Heading stateside from Paris’s Centre Pompidou (where it is on view as “Bacon: Books and Painting,” through January 20), it is the first major US museum show to feature the artist since 2009.
The MFAH is located at 1001 Bissonnet, Houston, Texas; general admission is $18.
“Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming” at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
February 27–June 14, 2020
The first solo exhibition for choreographer Faye Driscoll revisits her performance trilogy, “Thank You for Coming.” The three works—Attendance (2014), Play (2016), and Space (2019)—were co-commissioned by the Walker, and are returning to Minneapolis after a world tour. (The performance is also being staged in New York from January 8–10.) Adapted in Minnesota from the theater to the gallery with a guided audio soundtrack, the exhibition will ask that audience members become active participants in an immersive experience.
The Walker Art Center is located at 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis, Minnesota; general admission is $15.
“Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico” at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC
February 28–May 17, 2020
As the crisis at the US-Mexico border continues to rage, the National Museum of Women in the Arts is bringing the issue to the heart of Washington, DC, with a show of photographs by Graciela Iturbide. The Mexican-born and based artist has spent her life and career documenting native peoples in the Juchitán and Mixtec communities—portraying them outside of the sensational news cycle as individuals with rich lives. Also on display are the portraits of objects at Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, and imagery of the flora and fauna of the country.
NMWA is located at 1250 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC. General admission is $10.
“Edvard Munch and the Cycle of Life: Prints From the National Gallery of Art” at the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia
February 28–May 17, 2020
There’s a reason Edvard Munch’s iconic The Scream so perfectly captures a feeling of abject existential terror: the artist’s life was full of trauma, from the time he accidentally shot himself during a lover’s quarrel to the psychological collapse that led him to seek electroshock therapy. The Chrysler will consider how the artist’s personal pain permeated his work, particularly his 1890s series of paintings known as The Frieze of Life.
The Chrysler Museum of Art is located at One Memorial Place, Norfolk, Virginia; general admission is free.
“Duro Olowu: Seeing Chicago” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
February 29–May 3, 2020
Though he may be best known in the art world as the husband of Studio Museum in Harlem director Thelma Golden, Doru Olowu is a vibrant designer and curator in his own right. Olowu’s eponymous fashion label blends his British sensibilities with his Nigerian heritage, often using fabrics that symbolize international fusion and exchange. He is curating a show at MCA that draws on works from the museum’s collection as well as prominent Chicago private collections to create a vibrant, characteristically hybridized image of the city through a combination of photographs, paintings, films, and his own designs.
The MCA Chicago is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois; general admission is $15.
“Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
March 1–May 25, 2020
Fresh from the Royal Academy of Arts in London, “Lucian Freud: The Self-Portraits” showcases the artist’s mastery of the form, with more than 40 self-portraits created over a period of almost seven decades. The resulting exhibition shows not only Freud’s development as an artist, shifting from more linear works to the looser brushstrokes for which he is best known, but also his gradual aging, from youth to old age.
MFA Boston is located at 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, Massachusetts; general admission is $25.
“John Akomfrah: Future History” at the Seattle Art Museum
March 5–May 3, 2020
Three of the British artist John Akomfrah’s critically acclaimed films, which tackle complex themes including slavery, migration, and colonialism through masterful, epic productions and juxtapositions, come to Seattle: The Last Angel of History (1996), Vertigo Sea (2015) and Tropikos (2016).
The Seattle Art Museum is located at 1300 First Avenue, Seattle, Washington; general admission is $29.99.
“El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” at the Art Institute of Chicago
March 7–June 21, 2020
One of the most comprehensive surveys of the Greek master ever assembled, “El Greco: Ambition and Defiance” will make its only US stop at the Art Institute of Chicago in March. The show, co-organized with the Grand Palais in Paris—where it is currently on view—charts El Greco’s trajectory from a young artist struggling to find patronage to a dogged and charismatic perfectionist whose stylistic innovations were woefully underappreciated during his time.
The Art Institute of Chicago is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois; general admission is $25.
“Terry Adkins: Resounding” at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, St. Louis
March 13–August 2, 2020
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation presents some 50 works in sound, sculpture, video, and printmaking by sculptor and performance artist Terry Adkins, who died at age 60 in 2014. The exhibition spans his 30-year-plus career, with rarely exhibited early work and major installations unseen since their debuts as well as books, musical instruments, and other objects that the interdisciplinary and richly collaborative artist collected.
The Pulitzer Arts Foundation is located at 3716 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri; general admission is free.
“An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain” at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
March 14–June 26, 2020
The first proper survey of the work of Vietnam-born, American-based photographer An-My Lê in an American institution brings together more than 120 of the artist’s pictures, including both new and never-before-seen work. Lê’s career-long look at how war has influenced our relationship to the landscape feels particularly important today, as episodes of geopolitical violence and climate catastrophe erupt on a seemingly daily basis.
The Carnegie Museum of Art is located at 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; general admission is $19.95.
“Natural Forces: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington” at the Denver Art Museum
March 15–June 7, 2020
Though Winslow Homer (1836–1910), who painted scenes of the East Coast, was a generation older than Frederic Remington (1861–1909), the celebrated master of the American West, this traveling exhibition aims to tease out connections between their work. Both men were self-taught artists who captured the spirit of the late 19th- and early 20th-century United States at a time when the country was rapidly industrializing, and the notion of the frontier was rapidly becoming outdated.
The Denver Art Museum is located at 100 West 14th Avenue Parkway, Denver, Colorado; general admission is $10.
“For a Dreamer of Houses” at the Dallas Museum of Art
March 15, 2020–January 31, 2021
The Dallas Museum shows off recent acquisitions of immersive installations by Alex Da Corte, Francisco Moreno, and Do Ho Suh, as well as large-scale works by Pipilotti Rist and Janine Antoni in an exhibition organized around the emotional and psychological importance of the concept of home, as explored in the philosophy of Gaston Bachelard.
Dallas Museum of Art is located at 1717 North Harwood, Dallas, Texas; general admission is free, with special exhibitions typically $16.
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