Summer is here, and it’s hot. If going to the beach sounds painful, we’ve got a suggestion: museums. Thankfully, the air conditioned galleries of New York’s museums have plenty of worthwhile shows to check out. (Just don’t try to go to the rooftop gallery at the Met; they’ve closed that today due to the heat.) Below, we’ve rounded up a whopping list of 16 fantastic museum shows we’re going to check out.
Subliming Vessel: The Drawings of Matthew Barney, Morgan Library, Ends December 1
Matthew Barney’s unique brand of strange meets the esteemed library of Mr. J.P. Morgan. Barney selected items from the Morgan’s collections to be shown alongside storyboards of preparatory drawings, photos, and books from his films, including the infamous CREMASTER film cycle.
James Turrell’s “Aten Reign” transforms the Guggenheim rotunda into a massive, trippy installation of shifting natural and colored artificial lights. Brains will melt.
Bill Traylor: Drawings from the Collections of the High Museum of Art and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, American Folk Art Museum, Ends July 28
Born a slave in 1854, self-taught Alabama artist Bill Traylor began putting pencil to cardboard, at the age of 85, and ended up producing a fantastic collection of geometric drawings. Mind blown.
Don’t forget the tissues at this Käthe Kollwitz show because she goes there. Her legacy lies in creating work that skillfully balances figurative expression with political protest. You’ll be able to see her range at the Brooklyn Museum’s show; they’re bringing out 13 rarely displayed prints from their collection, created during both World Wars.
El Museo’s Bienal 2013: HERE IS WHERE WE JUMP, El Museo del Barrio, Ends August 11
El Museo’s seventh biennial showcases work by 37 Latino and Latin American artists who live and work in the New York City area.
A Different Kind of Order: The ICP Triennial, International Center of Photography, Ends September 22
Thanks to ye olde Internet, everyone in the 21st century is a prolific and published photographer. The ICP does us all a solid by rounding up some of the most interesting international contemporary photography and video works being produced today, and it includes work by Internet-y artists like Oliver Laric and Aleksandra Domanovic.
JACK GOLDSTEIN × 10,000, Jewish Museum, Ends September 2Jack Goldstein, one of the more elusive figure of the Pictures Generation, posthumously gets his day in the sun with a retrospective of his pop-cultured paintings, films, and sound recordings.
At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston, Metropolitan Museum, Ends September 2
Color photography was “lowbrow” until American photographer William Eggleston pioneered the use of color photography in art it in the 1960s with his small-scale photographs of everyday, rural American life.
Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, Metropolitan Museum, Ends September 8
The retrospective of Ken Price’s awesomely weird ceramic sculptures was designed by Frank Gehry, a close friend of the artist. Apparently not a great friend, though, because the design marred what is otherwise a fantastic exhibition.
Follow up your visit with the concurrent “Ken Price: Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Works on Paper 1962–2010” at the Drawing Center through August 18th.
Cut ‘n’ Paste: From Architectural Assemblage to Collage City, MoMA, Ends September 23
Remember those glue-stick destroying magazine collages you made as a kid? These are not those. Pulling from MoMA’s collection, “Cut ’n’ Paste” endorses the visual language of layering, juxtaposition, and cultural remix, and pairs newer, digital work with Modernist ones. Look for a focus on architecture.
Llyn Foulkes, New Museum, Ends September 1
Llyn Foulkes’s disturbing assemblage paintings, famously featuring a sinisterly metaphorical Mickey Mouse, come together in a show spanning almost 100 works over 50 years.
Ellen Gallagher: Don’t Axe Me, New Museum, Ends January 6
The most important information I can relay about the Ellen Gallagher show at the New Museum is that “Osedax”—an installation made in collaboration with Edgar Cleijne—is inspired by a species of undersea worm that buries into the bones of whale carcasses.
Loïs Mailou Jones: A Life in Vibrant Color, New York Public Library/Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Ends July 27
Loïs Mailou Jones is a certified warrior woman. Born in 1905, Jones began her 75-year-long painting career amid rampant racial and gender discrimination. Mixing African, Caribbean and African-American design elements, Jones’s work is a downright joyous hodgepodge of all these sources.
Robert Irwin: Scrim Veil—Black Rectangle—Natural Light, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1977), Whitney Museum, Ends September 1
Before the Whitney leaves its current home in the Marcel Breuer building and moves to the Meatpacking district in 2015, it has to get a little nostalgic. Robert Irwin’s natural light installation was commissioned for the museum in 1977, and now, it’s getting a second life. The installation’s overall effect is sublime, giving the Breuer one last hurrah.
I, YOU, WE, Whitney Museum, Ends September 1
The 1980s and 1990s weren’t glamorous. Recent exhibitions, including the New Museum’s 1993, have focused on the political and social implications of art from this period. Though smaller in scale than the NuMu show, the Whitney’s collection show seeks to demonstrate similar spirit, with pieces confronting “I,” “You,” “We,” and finally, the AIDS crisis.
State of Mind: New California Art Circa 1970, Bronx Museum, Ends September 8
Back in the late 60s and early 70s, a community of experimental artists flourished in California, all in the near-absence of commercial support. They made their own way, and gave us some of art’s biggest names, like Chris Burden, John Baldessari, and Ed Ruscha. All those artists are featured in State of Mind, but don’t expect a pure blockbuster show; it includes dozens of relatively unknown artists, too.
If the exhibition sounds familiar, that’s because it’s on tour from California; State of Mind originated as part of the Getty Foundation’s collaborative exhibition series, Pacific Standard Time.