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There’s never a bad time to visit New York City’s amazing museums — but 2020 is shaking out to be an especially exciting year. Whether you’re interested in modern art or ancient artifacts, political photographs or live butterflies, Manhattan’s museums offer a diverse range of exhibitions for every type of traveler. So if you’re planning a trip to New York City in the New Year, be sure to set aside to check out at least one of these major exhibits we can’t wait to see — or maybe all six.
Possibly the first exhibition of its kind, approximately 150 artifacts and artworks from the Sahel — an area of Africa comprising today’s Senegal, Mali, Mauretania, and Niger — will be on display at The Met’s Fifth Avenue location from Jan. 30 until May 10. Discover the history-defining moments (encounters with new religions, the forging of new empires) of the Sahel from the year 300 to the 19th-century through the incredible sculptures, textiles, objects and manuscripts left behind. Join an hour-long exhibition tour on select days to learn more.
The biggest upcoming exhibition on the calendar for the Guggenheim is Countryside, The Future, which will take over the rotunda with a massive installation by Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal (who directs AMO, a think tank at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture). The purpose of this exhibition is to explore the ways in which our rural and wild spaces are being irrevocably changed by politics, climate change and people. The exhibit, which was inspired by a body of research on a variety of topics,will open on Feb. 20 and run until Aug. 14.
It’s been roughly half a century since the last time the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) organized a major exhibition of Dorothea Lange’s photographs. Though Lange’s incredible photographs are the main focus, museumgoers will also learn more about the way her works were complemented by reports, poems, newspaper articles and other writings. Words & Pictures will open on Feb. 9 and close on May 2.
Perhaps more relevant than ever, Viva Mexicana: Muralists Remake American Art, arrives at the Whitney on Feb. 17. Exploring around 200 works by Mexican and American artists, this new exhibit explores the ways in which Mexican artists living in the US influenced their contemporaries and inspired a movement of art that was dedicated to correcting injustices experienced at every juncture. Sixty artists will be represented in this exhibition that explores the transformation of art and meaning from 1925 to 1945. Vida Mexicana will be on view until May 17.
Though it’s too early to say what new exhibitions may be coming to the American Museum of Natural History in 2020, visitors should still plan to check out the Butterfly Conservatory, which opened in mid-October and will close on May 25. This annual exhibit brings more than 500 butterflies and tropical plants to the Whitney Hall of Oceanic Birds on the second floor. In addition to general admission, visitors will need to pay an extra $5 per person for access to this special exhibit.
Arguably one of the biggest exhibitions in not just New York City but the country, the Costume Institute’s spring 2020 exhibition was just announced, and this year’s theme is About Time: Fashion and Duration. Part of the museum’s 150th anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2020, the theme will explore the ways in which fashion simultaneously fleeting and cumulative, and at all times referential. The exhibit will be on view from May 7 to Sept. 7, 2020, and will kick off with the annual Met Gala, which is considered the “Oscars of Fashion.” This year, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emma Stone, Meryl Streep and Anna Wintour will cochair the event alongside Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director at Louis Vuitton.
After your run, there’s so much more to explore in New York City. Check out our NYC Travel Guide for recommendations on where to eat and what to do here in New York.