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The Culture Hit List: Top Museum Exhibitions & More for Summer 2023

Mario R. Mercado details your summer arts preview: what’s on at the world’s leading institutions—including the latest exhibitions and the newest museums—plus the top tickets worth traveling for.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about our favorite itineraries in culture hubs around the world—this year and beyond.

NEW ARCHITECTURE

Mumbai & Bengaluru, India

Two Cultural Centers Open

In Mumbai, the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre, a multidisciplinary venue for the performing and visual arts, opened on March 31. The impressive complex comprises the 2,000-seat Grand Theatre, the smaller Studio auditorium and Cube, a black-box space. Programming includes large-scale Indian musicals, plays, Indian classical music and dance, avant-garde work and international touring productions. Through June 4, “India in Fashion,” an exhibition curated by editor Hamish Bowles, considers the singular influence of Indian design and craftsmanship across three centuries in the work of European and Indian designers.

And in Bengaluru, the center of India’s high-tech industry, the new Museum of Art & Photography evolved from an online gallery of Indian art (conceived in 2020 by philanthropist and collector Abhishek Poddar) to a five-story cultural institution that opened in February. The space encompasses textiles, craft, design and Indian film artifacts as well as modern and contemporary painting, sculpture and photography. A pathbreaking exhibition, “Visible/Invisible,” contrasts the prominent role of women in Indian art with their often difficult standing in society.

Istanbul

Istanbul Modern

Renzo Piano’s highly anticipated new building for Istanbul’s preeminent collection of modern and contemporary art marks a milestone in Istanbul’s cultural evolution. Located on the Karaköy waterfront, at the convergence of the Bosporus Strait and Golden Horn, Istanbul Modern acknowledges its setting—a façade of aluminum panels creates a play between harbor waters and reflected light. The museum inaugurates its 110,000-square-foot building with five exhibitions, including “Floating Islands,” drawn from its comprehensive collection, a showcase of 114 Turkish artists from 1945 to the present along with works by Anselm Kiefer, Daniel Buren, and Alicja Kwade. Opened May 4.

London

National Portrait Gallery

Reopening on June 22 inside its renovated landmark building, the National Portrait Gallery will feature a new entrance, a redesigned East Wing, and a reorganization of its holdings, representing the preeminent collection of British portraiture—more than 12,600 paintings, sculptures and photographs from the eighth century to the present. Among the inaugural exhibitions is one showing never-seen black-and-white photography taken by Paul McCartney during the period 1963–64, as the Beatles rose to international fame.

New York City

The American Museum of Natural History

The striking curves of the Gilder Center—the new Columbus Avenue entrance to the American Museum of Natural History—invite curiosity. A nexus for exhibitions, research collections and education, the multistory building by Studio Gang has an audacious, anthropomorphic interior. The annex includes a year-round 3,000-square-foot butterfly vivarium and the Invisible Worlds Theater, an immersive experience revealing connections among life on earth, from ocean depths to DNA strands. Opened May 4.

Hispanic Society Museum & Library

The renowned collections of art and literature from Spain, Portugal and Latin America at the Hispanic Society Museum & Library in Upper Manhattan are less well-known than their size and extraordinary scope—from antiquity to the present day—should merit. This May, the first phase of a six-year renovation of its main building reopens, casting the museum’s remarkable holdings from the likes of works by El Greco, Velázquez, Goya and Sorolla in resplendent new light.

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo AKG Art Museum

The former Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s campus, now called Buffalo AKG Art Museum, is transformed by a striking glass pavilion designed by Shohei Shigematsu of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture. The new building adds space for special exhibitions and modern and contemporary art, including outstanding collections of Abstract Expressionists and the work of Black artists. Elsewhere, a glass roof and art installation, Common Sky, by artists Olafur Eliasson and Sebastian Behmann enclose the courtyard of the museum’s 1962 annex. Opens May 25.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

Seldom has the expansion of a cultural institution represented as much to a city, a state and the visiting public. Set within Little Rock’s oldest park, the design by Studio Gang architects for the reimagined Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts features a luminous, curving atrium that affords multiple entrances, assimilates the Art Deco façade of its original building and leads to galleries featuring contemporary craft and art by Arkansas and American South artists, as well as 19th-century paintings. Opened April 22.

Los Angeles

Hammer Museum

Twenty years in the making, the renovation and expansion of the Hammer Museum has been masterfully realized by Michael Maltzan Architecture at the instigation of museum director Ann Philbin. Old Masters and French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings formed the core of Armand Hammer’s private collection. Over two decades, its holdings grew to encompass galleries for works on paper, collections of contemporary art, special exhibitions, courtyards and terraces to become a vibrant center for contemporary culture. Opened March 26.

ART EXHIBITIONS

Spotlight: Picasso, 50 Years Later

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, which has spurred more than 50 exhibitions throughout the world (33 in Spain and France alone) that demonstrate the sweep of his expansive legacy across genres, painting, sculpture, printmaking and ceramics. Highlights: Picasso 1969–1972: The End of the Beginning” at the Picasso Museum in Antibes, France, considers the summary achievement of his last years (through July 2); “Picasso Celebration: The Collection in a New Light” at the Picasso Museum in Paris, curated by the designer Paul Smith, focuses on the artist’s enduring relevance (through August 27); and in Madrid, “Picasso-El Greco” at the Prado explores the influence of the Renaissance master upon the 20th-century painter (June 13–September 17).

New York City: A Karl Lagerfeld Retrospective

Perhaps no other recent designer has exerted such wide influence as Karl Lagerfeld. The couturier, who was the eye behind illustrious fashion houses like Chloé, Fendi and Chanel, is the focus of this year’s Costume Institute exhibition, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” A survey of more than 150 pieces, most alongside Lagerfeld’s sketches, reveals an intensely collaborative process, while reflecting upon the serpentine line celebrated by William Hogarth as a classic principle of beauty. Through July 16.

Atlanta: Ancient Nubian Art

“Ancient Nubia: Art of the 25th Dynasty”

 at the High Museum of Art reveals a spectacular collection, on loan from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, of more than 200 masterworks—gold and silver jewelry, fine ceramics—from the Napata Empire (750–590 B.C.E.), which flourished along the Nile Valley and figured as the 25th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. June 2–September 1.

Cape Canaveral: The Peanuts Go to Outer Space

Photo by Monlove Enterprises Inc

Photo by Monlove Enterprises Inc, courtesy Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

NASA recently announced the four-person crew for Artemis 2, the next space mission, a 21-day lunar fly-by planned for November 2024. One can count on the Peanuts gang—Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Sally and Snoopy and Woodstock, with space suits and gear—to be ahead of the exploratory space curve. This spring, Monlove, the innovative Montreal-based production company, has teamed up with NASA and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to create “All Systems Are Go!”—an immersive program involving state-of-the-art puppetry, music and technology. In their inimitable fashion, the beloved Peanuts characters, appearing as four-to-five-foot-tall puppets, prepare for the next NASA Artemis mission—testing the Orion Spacecraft and planetary travels. Ongoing.

Chicago: Van Gogh and His Avant-Garde Peers

In “Van Gogh and the Avant-Garde: The Modern Landscape,” 75 paintings and drawings by five painters—van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Émile Bernard, and Charles Angrand—depict the villages and riverscapes around the northwest Paris suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine, which in the late 19th century evolved to encompass train bridges, coal and gas installations and factories. The Art Institute of Chicago exhibition considers these changing environs and the artistic experimentation they stimulated. May 14–September 4.

San Francisco: Exploring Asian Underworlds

Woodblock prints, watercolors and a finely made shadow puppet variously illustrate the netherworld, both its dreadful and its seemingly congenial aspects, as symbolized in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain faiths. In the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco’s survey “Hell: Arts of Asian Underworlds,” traditional and modern artworks from throughout Asia—Tibet, China, Japan, Indonesia—evoke hellscapes as admonitions, forms of expiation and ritual cleansings on the path to enlightenment. June 16–September 18.

Los Angeles: Keith Haring

In the early 1980s, NYC subway riders noticed chalk-line drawings on unused advertising spaces. A barking dog, a crawling baby or hearts supported by dancing figures captured the imagination of businessmen and children alike. The Broad’s Keith Haring: Art is for Everybody” brings together 120 works, including video, sculpture and painting, as well as exuberant subway drawings, to consider the achievement of a figure whose influence exceeded his brief 31-year life. May 27–October 8.

Norfolk, England: Sean Scully at Houghton Hall

Photo by Pete Huggins, courtesy Sean Scully / Houghton Hall

Photo by Pete Huggins, courtesy Sean Scully / Houghton Hall

This year, Houghton Hall, a great Palladian house in Norfolk, England, is the setting for the special exhibition “Smaller Than the Sky,” which features paintings, works on paper and sculpture by contemporary artist Sean Scully. The artwork, some especially created for the show (notably, sculpture in a range of materials), is on view in the historic rooms of the house, the North Colonnade and Contemporary Gallery and formal gardens. Houghton Hall, built in the 1720s for Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, remains a residence of the Cholmondeley family. With distinguished collections of art, antiques and furniture, the estate merits visiting, and this spring and summer, doubly so. April 23–October 29.

Paris: Basquiat & Warhol

Fondation Louis Vuitton’s show “Basquiat x Warhol: Painting Four Hands” explores the mutual influence between the artists, who together created 160 paintings. Although a 30-year age difference separated the two, their work in tandem, a dialogue of forms and styles, stimulated their individual practice and characterized the singular energy of the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s. Through August 28.

Vienna: Celebrating a Glassmaking Icon

From glassware supplied to imperial Viennese households to the chandeliers at the New York’s Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna manufacturer J. & L. Lobmeyr has been admired for glass of radiant purity. The MAK Museum of Applied Arts’s show, “Glitz and Glamour: 200 Years of Lobmeyr” brings together more than 300 objects, including the striking designs of Josef Hoffmann and Adolf Loos, exponents of the Wiener Wekstätte movement. June 7–September 24; mak.at.

Berlin: Last Chance to See the Pergamon (For Now)

Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, with its renowned collections of classical antiquities, Islamic and ancient Near East art, will close fully for renovations on October 23, 2023. Until then, travelers can still take in important parts of the museum (book timed-entry admission). The Pergamon Altar, whose frieze includes a masterpiece of Hellenistic art, is in a section that is already closed (it reopens in 2027). A temporary exhibition building, the Panorama, features sculpture and a section of the frieze, in the context of a fascinating 360-degree recreation of the ancient Pergamon metropolis created by artist Yadegar Asisi.

Qatar: Olafur Eliasson Outside, and In

Olafur Eliasson’s creative work has demonstrated his interest in light, wind, water and human perception. In “The Curious Desert,” the artist brings his scrutiny to the Qatari desert, a setting for 12 temporary pavilions where natural forces generate artworks. A companion exhibition at the National Museum of Qatar offers an extensive survey of the artist’s career, with light installations, photo series, color experimentation and beguiling optical devices. Through August 15.

Hong Kong: Cartier on View

Since the 1970s, the jeweler Cartier has embarked on gathering exceptional examples of jewelry, watches and decorative arts its company’s designers have produced during its 170-year history. In “Cartier and Women” at the Hong Kong Palace Museum, visitors can see more than 300 pieces from this renowned Cartier Collection. The exhibition highlights the role of women in fashion, and reflects Cartier’s taste for Chinese aesthetics and gemstones of Asian origin. Through August 14.

BALLET

An American Ballet Theatre Debut

Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon’s new ballet Like Water for Chocolate is inspired by Laura Esquivel’s novel about a daughter’s filial duty, intransigent family tradition, the sublimation of passions and magical effects. It opens American Ballet Theatre’s summer season at New York’sMetropolitan Opera House, set to a score by composer Joby Talbot. The lavish production, one of ABT’s biggest, features sets and costumes by Bob Crowley, video design by Luke Halls, major roles for six featured dancers and dazzling stagecraft. June 22–July 1.

The Australian Ballet turns 60

Throughout 2023, the Australian Ballet celebrates its 60th anniversary in grand style, performing both at the Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. From May through July, it presents works by two Australian choreographers, Daniel Riley and Alice Topp, as well as Jewels, the masterpiece by George Balanchine, inspired by the imagery of emeralds, rubies and diamonds. In addition, the Tokyo Ballet brings its staging of Giselle, the 19th-century romantic classic, as part of the season.

THEATER

London

The Crucible

Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials, first produced in 1953, remains a searing allegory of McCarthyism and a warning about rising demagoguery. The National Theatre production staged by Lyndsey Turner transfers to the West End in June, with The House of the Dragon’s Milly Alcock as Abigail Williams. Gielgud Theatre; June 7–September 2; delfontmackintosh.co.uk.

The Motive and the Cure

In 1964, Richard Burton, newly married to Elizabeth Taylor, takes on the challenge of appearing in an experimental production of Hamlet staged by John Gielgud. Different theater generations clash, and the play’s success falls into jeopardy. Sam Mendes directs Johnny Flynn (Burton), Mark Gatiss (Gielgud), and Tuppence Middleton (Taylor). National Theatre; April 30–July 25; nationaltheatre.org.uk.

La Cage Aux Folles

This summer, Timothy Sheader stages this major revival of the Jerry Herman-Harvey Fierstein open-hearted musical that redefines the term “family entertainment.” Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre; July 29–September 16; openairtheatre.com.

Guys and Dolls

Nicholas Hytner directs the classic Frank Loesser musical about sin and romantic salvation, gamblers and the women who love them, in a dazzling, immersive production. Recently opened in the new theater steps from Tower Bridge, the smash hit has been extended into 2024. Bridge Theatre; through February 24, 2024; bridgetheatre.co.uk.

New York City

Days of Wine and Roses

J.P. Miller’s 1962 heartbreaking love story about alcoholism and its consequences is the basis of this new musical from the authors of the modern classic The Light in the Piazza, composer and lyricist Adam Guettel and playwright Craig Lucas. Kelli O’Hara and Brian D’Arcy James star in a production staged by Michael Greif. May 5–June 25; atlantictheater.org.

Here Lies Love

The 2013 spectacular off-Broadway collaboration among David Byrne, Fatboy Slim, choreographer Annie-B Parsons, and director Alex Timbers leaps to a Broadway Theatre reconfigured for an immersive experience. An exhilarating examination of the life and downfall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos meets an infectious dance beat. From June 17; herelieslovebroadway.com.

Dial M for Murder

A stunning stage success on Broadway 60 years ago, followed by a classic Alfred Hitchcock film, Frederick Knott’s suspenseful whodunit has been retooled by playwright Jeffrey Hatcher, a specialist of urban wit and theatrical fireworks. Walter Bobbie directs this new production at Sag Harbor’s indispensable Bay Street Theater in the Hamptons. June 27–July 23; baystreet.org.

MUSIC

Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg Festival

The world’s preeminent music and drama festival

presents eight operas, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Verdi’s Macbeth among them. This year, the Great Hall of the Mozarteum Foundation, renowned for its acoustics and recently renovated, is again the setting for recitals and chamber music concerts, including performances by pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the Ébène Quartet. July 20–August 31.

Tuscany, Italy

Incontri in Terra di Siena

This weeklong chamber music festival

in Tuscany is known for imaginative concerts and its settings, at La Foce estate in Cortile and locations throughout the Val d’Orcia. On July 22, artistic director and pianist Alessio Bax welcomes cellist and festival founder Antonio Lysy, violinists Sarah Christian and Vadim Gluzman, violist Adrien La Marca and guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas, in a program ranging from Boccherini to Prokofiev, performed in Montefollonico, a hilltop village. July 21–28.

Swiss Alps

Verbier Festival

Photo by Lucien Grand Jean, courtesy Verbier Festival

Photo by Lucien Grand Jean, courtesy Verbier Festival

Set in a mountain resort in the Swiss Alps, the Verbier Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with recitals, chamber music and orchestral concerts performed by today’s leading musicians and rising young artists. This summer’s roster includes violinists Janine Jansen, Renaud Capuçon and Augustin Hadelich; cellists Gauthier Capuçon and Sheku Kanneh-Mason; pianists Evgeny Kissin and Daniil Trifonov; jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and singers Renée Fleming and Bryn Terfel. July 14–30.

Charleston, South Carolina

Spoleto Festival

The Spoleto Festival is as diverse in programming as its artist roster is inclusive. Soprano Nicole Heaston takes on the title role of Vanessa, Samuel Barber’s haunting 1958 opera of romantic aspiration and harsh reality. Jonathon Heyward, recently named music director of the Baltimore Symphony, leads the Festival Orchestra in Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, while Nickel Creek, the pioneering bluegrass trio made up of Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, makes two appearances as part of a reunion tour. May 26–June 11.

Montana

Tippet Rise

The Tippet Rise Art Center, home to a five-week concert season, is likely the only festival set on a 12,500-acre working ranch. Located at the foot of Montana’s Beartooth Mountains, the striking landscape includes large-scale sculpture by Mark di Suvero and Louise Nevelson. Among the highlights: pianist Anna Geniushene gives the world premiere of Four Pieces for Piano by Ukrainian composer Valentyn Silvestrov. August 18–September 17.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about our favorite itineraries in culture hubs around the world—this year and beyond.

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