A Guide To All The Best Museum And Gallery Openings This Spring

Necessary viewing

Okay, so maybe you didn't end up sacrificing yourself to the harsh winter weather in the name of art last season. But, let me be the first to tell you, you're going to want to venture out this spring. And since it's getting warmer, you'll have no excuse not to!

This season, it's incredibly important to support the artists whose work is being shown all over the country. This roundup, completely by chance, is made up almost entirely of women artists and/or artists of color. It should come as no surprise to you that the art world is known for being just as white male-dominated as any other professional field. Artist collectives, from the Guerrilla Girls to the Girl Gaze Project to the Art Hoe Collective (co-founded by Gabrielle Richardson, one of our February covers stars), have been calling this out for years while making new spaces for marginalized artists.

And while these counter-spaces are influential and groundbreaking in their own right, I can't help but be thrilled with the overwhelming number of non-male, non-white artists being showcased all over the country, in galleries and renowned museums alike. Art is a reaction to the world we're living in, after all, and we're living through some harsh times for women and people of color. It's only fitting that those are the artists who are commissioned.

This means, though, that we need to show up in these spaces, and make sure that it's understood that this is the art we as a society want to see. I don't know about you, but I want to see alternative viewpoints in the art that I consume—I'd rather not go into a museum just to see the world through the eyes of a white male. It's important for us to make sure that the big wigs in the art world know that patrons will turn up en masse to see marginalized artists' work. Maybe then it won't be so marginalized.

Image courtesy of the Whitney Museum of American Art


Whitney Museum of American Art, Between the Waters, on view starting March 9

In journalism, when reacting to the state of the world, writers are usually encouraged to maintain an unbiased and factual representation. Such is not the case in the art world. Here, seven artists use a highly subjective lens to question the impact of ideology on our ways of viewing the world and each other.

Brooklyn Museum, Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985, on view from April 13-July 22

Over 120 Latin American and Latina women artists are included in this exhibit which explores how they use the female form in their expressions.

Museum of the Moving Image, The New Genres: Video in the Internet Age, on view from April 14-September 2

The rise of the internet has led to the democratization of video creation—anyone with a camera can upload content, and they do, with over one million hours of video being uploaded, streamed, or shared each day. This exhibit takes a look at the new genres of video that have been created in the age of the internet, from unboxings to ASMR.

Dream Machine, on view from April 5-July 29

Taking cue from the exceptionally popular Museum of Ice Cream, Dream Machine is a new interactive experience that takes its attendees on an immersive, escapist journey through what happens when we dream. If your dreams involve diving into a pool of 35,000 balls, walking with your head literally in the clouds, and tracking all the socks that went missing in the laundromat, that is. 


MIT Museum, Gyorgy Kepes Photographs: The MIT Years, 1946-1985, on view starting March 21

Kepes helped shape the use of photography as a tool for documentation, both in theory and practice. This exhibit takes a look at his work in various forms of photography during his tenure at MIT, where he founded the Center for Advanced Visual Studies.


Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, Adventures Close to Home, on view through July 25

Sometimes even the most mundane and everyday objects and spaces can hold an intense amount of meaning. Artist Ryan Syrell paints domestic scenes which evoke strong feelings of intimacy.

Baltimore Museum of Art, Stephen Towns: Rumination and a Reckoning, on view through September 2

Towns uses the art of quilting to narrate the early years of American history through the eyes of slaves.


Museum of Contemporary Photography, In Their Own Form, on view from April 12-July 8

Western culture has placed unnecessary burdens of racism, stereotypes, and oppression on the black body. This exhibit seeks to understand what blackness might be without those impositions.

MCA Chicago, Otobong Nkanga: To Dig A Hole That Collapses Again, on view through September 2

Nkanga brings focus to the shiny qualities of natural resources that, in part, led to the West’s obsession with colonization, by conceptualizing the body itself as the site of mining.


MOCA Cleveland, Simon Denny: The Founder’s Paradox, on view through June 10

Denny uses the format of board games to comment on the influence of game theory on the technology sector, and places our notion of the “founder” in a fantasy scenario.

Image courtesy of the Menello Museum of American Art


Space 538, Sandra Erbacher—Geometry of Oppression, on view from March 16-May 12

Erbacher positions seemingly disparate images—of bureaucratic office furnishings and fascist architecture—side by side to illuminate their likenesses and, therein, the similarities between bureaucracy and fascism.


High Museum, Amy Elkins: Black is the Day, Black is the Night, on view through April 29

Elkins uses the medium of photography to explore the lives of the thousands of incarcerated people living in solitary confinement for extended periods of time. Since photography is often not allowed inside these institutions, the work takes on a larger meaning to comment on the power of the ability to be seen. 

MOCA GA, Paul R. Jones Collection from the University of Alabama, on view through April 14

More than 600 African American artists’ work can be found in the late Paul R. Jones’ collection, which he carefully preserved for his entire life and donated to the University of Alabama before he died.


New Orleans Museum of Art, A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes, on view through May 28

So many fashion designers throughout history have challenged and subverted the dominant meanings of femininity and womanhood. This exhibit brings together gowns, headpieces, and jewelry from many such celebrated designers.


The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Slavery, the Prison Industrial Complex: Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, on view through May 28

The idea that mass incarceration of people of color, especially black men, can be compared to slavery has never been this black-and-white. This exhibit documents the lives of men imprisoned in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which exists on what used to be multiple cotton and sugarcane plantations.


Perez Art Museum Miami, Meiro Koizumi: Battlelands, on view from March 23-August 19

This video work explores how our everyday world can quickly transform into a site of tension, through the eyes of five U.S. veterans. 

Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Lionel Smit: Obscura, on view from March 8-May 6

Smit took inspiration from the Cape Malay people of his native South Africa to understand shifting identities as a result of colonialism's displacement of multiple cultures. 


The Mennello Museum of American Art, When the Water Rises: Recent Paintings by Julie Heffernan, on view from March 23-June 10

As a response to climate change and our environment’s impending destruction, Heffernan imagines what our ways of living may look like by fashioning new “alternative habitats.”


SCAD Museum of Art, Lily van der Stokker: Huh, on view through August 19

An exhibit consisting entirely of doodles and various shades of pink might come across as “too girly,” and that’s exactly what van der Stokker intended. The fact that she, a woman, takes ownership of these very gendered visuals brings new meaning to their form. 

Image courtesy of Jono Vaughan and the Seattle Art Museum


Henry Art Gallery, The Brink: Demian DinéYazhi´, on view from April 14-September 9

DinéYazhi´ imagines a future for Indigenous peoples free from the U.S. exploitation and abuse which has so negatively impacted their culture.

Seattle Art Museum, Jono Vaughan: Project 42, on view from April 21-August 5

This project, named for the incredibly short life expectancy of trans people in the U.S., serves as a memorial to 42 murdered individuals. Vaughan creates a garment dedicated to each life, and a collaborator then wears it in a performance which celebrates the victim.

PORTLANDUpfor Gallery, Heidi Hahn, Shana Moulton: The Feeling Good Handbook, on view from April 4-May 19

A mixture of painting and video works grapples with the new age of technology and the way that the endless possibilities placed in our hands can make us even more uncertain of our worth.


University of Alaska Museum of the North, Decolonizing Alaska, on view through September

Dozens of Alaskan artists, both Native and non-Native, are featured in this exhibit which deconstructs the state’s history of colonization and subverts dominant stereotypes in favor of a more inclusive understanding of identity.

Image courtesy of Shinique Smith and the California African American Museum


Richard Levy Gallery, Matthew Finley: Fragile, on view through April 13

This collection of tintype portraits explores the complex realities of introversion in our current world—the ability to connect with almost anyone all over the world, all the time has the ability to both silence and amplify introversion.


SF MOMA, Selves and Others, on view from March 24-September 23

Do you ever see a picture of a stranger and feel like you know much more about them than simply their appearance? This collection of portraits does just that, by giving us a much more intimate and deep understanding of each individual photographed.

de Young, Cult of the Machine, on view from March 24-August 12

The modern movement ushered in by the Industrial Revolution in the U.S. had an impact on pretty much every aspect of culture and society. The efficiency and precision of modern machinery inspired the Precisionism style, which this exhibit explores in depth through various modernist artists’ works.


LACMA, David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-Life, on view from April 15-July 29

This exhibit, as you may have guessed from the title, is comprised of a series of portraits the artist created of people in his life throughout the last 50 years.

California African American Museum, Shinique Smith: Refuge, on view from March 14-September 9

Smith uses objects we would assume are others’ belongings to create multimedia installations that evoke a personal attachment. This exhibit focuses on those who are displaced and seek refuge, and their necessary merge of the public and the private.

Walter Maciel Gallery, Katherine Sherwood: The Interior of the Yelling Clinic, on view through April 28

Sherwood uses her viewpoint as a disabled artist to reexamine the conventional notion of beauty and the female body in art, usually as depicted by men.


Houston Museum of African American Culture, The World of Lauren Kelley, on view from April 28-July 7

Lauren Kelley uses stop-motion animation to comment on and react to gender politics from the 1970s and the Doll Tests of the 1940s.

Houston Center for Photography, Margin and Center, on view from March 9-April 29

A reaction to the U.S.-Mexico border and our current president’s obsession with building a wall, Margin and Center comprises of several artists from all over the world to comment on the impact of borders. There are (sometimes invisible) walls separating us from each other in terms of geography and identity, and these artists question if those borders are really necessary.


Blanton Museum of Art, James Drake: Tongue-Cut Sparrows, on view from March 10-May 20

Humans, by nature, want to communicate—by any means necessary. Drake looks at the way in which imprisoned men in one El Paso jail have created a new coded sign language to talk to their female partners who stand outside their windows.