7 Summer Shows to Relish in Queens

The oft-overlooked borough has plenty to offer.

Mika Tajima, Meridian (Gold) (2016). Courtesy of the artist via SculptureCenter.

Art enthusiasts looking for adventure may want to consider a trip to the often overlooked borough of Queens, which is steadily rising as a dynamic, premier destination for art.

Take Astoria, for example, where the Museum of the Moving Image is no more than a hop, skip, and a jump east of the Noguchi Museum. Just south of the neighborhood is Long Island City, which was once home to the street art mecca known as Five Pointz. With MoMA PS1 secured as its crown jewel (amid numerous gallery spaces and art studios up for grabs), the area is amassing a formidable art scene.

As MoMA PS1’s director of visitors, Zachary Bowman, told the Wall Street Journal back in 2013: “People don’t realize that Long Island City is part of Queens, and Queens is so accessible to Manhattan. We will see so much more of an influx of artists in the next five years. It’s already happening.”

In short, a visit to the borough is a must this summer, and to help you navigate the sprawl, we rounded up seven exhibitions you’ll relish experiencing.


1. “Rockaway!” at Fort Tilden
Artist Katharina Grosse works big. What’s more, the artist is known for applying her paint outside the canvas. This summer, Grosse is making her biggest splash yet at MoMA PS1 with a new outdoor installation. For the temporary project, Grosse will be transforming Ft. Tilden’s aquatics building using her signature spray painting technique.

WHERE: MoMA PS1, Long Island City
WHEN: July 3 through November 30

Noguchi Museum

2. “Isamu Noguchi: Functional Ceramics” at The Noguchi Museum
In an exhibition designed to complement Tom Sachs’s “Tea Ceremony,” ceramics, plates, bowls, and a host of other traditional forms produced by Noguchi will be on view. These objects are, of course, in direct conversation with Sachs’s own collection of handmade porcelain tea bowls, which total well over 300.

WHERE: The Noguchi Museum, New York
WHEN: Through June 25

Sculpture Park

3. “Broadway Billboard: Hank Willis Thomas” at Socrates Sculpture Park
Fans of artist Hank Willis Thomas will want to swing by the Socrates Sculpture Park to catch his recently mounted billboard. The special exhibition is one of many other open art installations currently on view. But if you’re looking for more interactive experiences, the park is hosting outdoor cinema screenings every Wednesday throughout the months of July and August. 

WHERE: 32-01 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City
WHEN: Through August 28

Moving Image

4. “Arcade Classics: Video Games from the Collection” at Museum of the Moving Image
Gamers who remember Centipede, Tron, and Atari games en masse will have a field day at the Museum of the Moving Image. The show, which is aptly called “Arcade Classics,”offers up more than 30 video games that hit the arcades between 1971 and 1993. Just don’t get stuck playing games all day. 

WHERE: 3601 35th Avenue, Astoria
WHEN: Through October 23

Mika Tajima, Meridien (Gold) (2016). Photo by Eileen Kinsella

Mika Tajima, Meridien (Gold) (2016). Photo by Eileen Kinsella

5. “Mika Tajima: Meridian (Gold)” at SculptureCenter
Artist Mika Tajima brings a sense of magic to SculptureCenter this summer with her outdoor installation “Meridian (Gold).” The project features a continuous plume of water vapor illuminated by a shifting spectrum of magenta and cyan lights. You’ll want to bring a camera.

WHERE: 44-19 Purves Street, Long Island City
WHEN: Through September 25


6. “MAMI” at the Knockdown Center
The water deities of West and Central African matriarchal spiritualities are paid tribute in an upcoming exhibition at the Knockdown Center. Curated by MoCADA’s curatorial fellow Ali Rosa-Salas, the artists mounting works in the space include Doreen Garner, Aya Rodriguez-Izumi, and Nona Faustine.

WHERE: 52-19 Flushing Avenue, Maspeth
WHEN: August 6 through September 5


7. “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk” at the Queens Museum
Earlier this year, a major exhibition dedicated to the beloved band debuted at the Queens Museum of Art. To borrow Eileen Kinsella’s observation, who reported on its potential impact in driving traffic to the museum: “It is fitting that the museum, which is in Flushing, is not too far from the Forest Hills neighborhood where the band members met and got their start.” As Tommy Ramone himself described the borough: “It’s the perfect place to grow up neurotic.” 

WHERE: Queens Museum of Art, Flushing
WHEN: Through July 31

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