New York City is packed with galleries and museums each with their own bumper art show calendar, it can be impossible to know what to see. To get started, here are 4 big summer art exhibitions that look good.

1. O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii at the New York Botanical Garden

georgia o keeffe new york vistion of hawaii

In 1939, Georgia O’Keeffe spent nine weeks on assignment for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, to create paintings of the islands for its promotional campaign. Today, 15 of them – rarely seen today – feature in this – one of the city’s biggest summer art exhibitions at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. There’s also a lush display of Hawaiian flowers and plants in the conservatory which looks fun to walk around, and includes a beautiful recreation of a traditional Hawaiian open-sided, thatched-roof pavilion hidden in the foliage. Forbes says: ‘it’s already shaping up to be the blockbuster art show of the New York summer and a must for visitors to the city.’

georgia o keeffee new york botanical garden
O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawaii runs through to 28 October, and I can’t wait to visit on my next trip in September 2018.


2. Art in the Open at the Museum of the City of New York

art in the open museum of the city of new york

art in the open mcny

Browsing art installations outside in New York is fun because it means you get to discover all those parts of the city you might not necessarily go to otherwise – like tiny community gardens or little-known parks, random subway stations, empty car parks, or even abandoned buildings (see here and here). The Museum of the City of New York’s latest exhibit, Art in the Open, looks at back at some of the most poignant installations from the past 40 years that have helped transform the city.

art installation exhibition new york

Art in the Open runs through to 23 September.


3. Heavenly Bodies at the Costume Institute

The Costume Institute’s exhibitions in the Met Museum are always epic, and this year – in its biggest and most bold to date – it’s all about religious fashion. On display are robes from the Vatican never to have left Rome, and another 150 religious outfits from the last century, including ‘space-age brides, monastic couture, angels in gold lamé, and a choir up in the balcony dressed in head-to-toe Balenciaga’, says the New York Times. Meanwhile, The Cut says, it’s ‘gorgeous, moving, and surprisingly witty. . . . It confirms the historical, even mystical power of fashion, its worthiness of serious attention . . .”

I love the sound of how it’s organised, scattered in various places around the museum – on stairways and in corridors on different floors – rather than boxed into a few rooms. It runs from its downstairs hall to the Byzantine and medieval galleries and into the Lehman Wing. It then continues at the Cloisters, the museum’s home for religious art in Upper Manhattan.

Heavenly Bodies at the Costume Institute runs through to 8 October.


4. Life Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs

stanley kubrick museum of the city of new york

stanley kubrick photography exhibition

stanley kubrick photography new york

Before he was a film director, Stanley Kubrick started out as a photographer for Life Magazine competitor, Look. Between 1940-50, he captured scenes of ordinary NYC city street life in beautiful black and white for some 300-odd assignments some of which have been gathered together to create this fascinating exhitbition at The Museum of the City of New York.

life through a different lens stanley kubrick

Life Through a Different Lens runs through to 28 October.

Psst. Gallery Hopping in Chelsea and The Mad Men bench on Sixth Avenue.

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