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New York may be famous for its world-class museums, but let's face it: some exhibitions are better seen from the vantage point of Instagram (clearer images; less crowds). If you're heading to the city this summer, we've rounded up the must-see displays—from the Met to the Queens Museum—that are well worth the trip.
1. Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History at The Jewish Museum, March 18, 2016 - August 7, 2016
“I’ve always been obsessed with elevator pads. Always, as far as I can remember. You know, any elevator that I get in that has pads in it, I am much happier.” @isaacmizrahiny’s inspiration springs from unlikely sources, even protective pads that line a freight elevator. On view now in #IsaacMizrahi: An Unruly History, his 2003 Elevator Pad Gown reimagines this lowly material with quilting pattern across a patchwork of delicate silks, completed with neon piping along the hem. The bodice was built up from strips of grosgrain ribbon. Photo: David Heald (@dmheald)
It's hard to believe there hasn't already been a dedicated exhibition about Isaac Mizrahi. Thankfully, The Jewish Museum makes up for lost time with a comprehensive look at the designer's career in fashion, film, and the performing arts—and shows how he was often inspired by unlikely sources. The idea for his 2003 Elevator Pad Gown (pictured above) quite literally stemmed from protective pads that line a freight elevator.
2. Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney's Collection at The Whitney Museum, April 27, 2016 - February 12, 2017
If you haven't yet made it to the Whitney's new downtown space, the gargantuan sculptural exterior alone is worth seeing. But its new portrait exhibit, with a mix of over 200 iconic and lesser-known works, delves into the art form in an unprecedented way. We could stare at the large-scale photographs of Cindy Sherman for hours.
3. Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, May 5, 2016 - August 14, 2016
With more than 150 ensembles dating from the early 20th century to the present, “#ManusxMachina: Fashion in an Age of Technology” addresses the founding of the haute couture in the 19th century, when the sewing machine was invented, and the emergence of a distinction between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina) at the onset of mass production. It explores this ongoing dichotomy, in which hand and machine are presented as discordant tools in the creative process, and questions the relationship and distinction between haute couture and ready-to-wear. Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957). “Junon” and “Venus” Dress, autumn/winter 1949–50, haute couture. #TheMet #CostumeInstitute #MetGala
In case the deluge of Met Gala Instagrams wasn't enough to convince you, the Costume Institute's buzzed-about spring exhibition is something to behold. This year's theme explores the relationship between the hand (manus) and the machine (machina) in fashion, showcasing over 170 looks from the early 20th century to present day, including this pair of Christian Dior haute couture dresses crafted in the mid-'50s.
4. Munch and Expressionism at Neue Galerie, February 18, 2016 - June 13, 2016
When Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" sold for a record $119.9 million at Sotheby's in 2012, the Internet spun into a collective tizzy over just who the anonymous buyer was. Now, you can see the famed pastel in the flesh, along with other works by the Norwegian artist and his contemporaries, some of which have never been shown in the United States.
5. Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty at The Museum of Modern Art, March 26, 2016 - July 24, 2016
Learn about the experimental monotype process behind #EdgarDegas's famous work in "Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty," now on view through July 24. The exhibition brings together approximately 120 rarely seen monotypes—along with some 60 related paintings, drawings, pastels, sketchbooks, and prints—that show Degas at his most modern, capturing the spirit of urban life; depicting the body in new and daring ways; and boldly engaging the possibilities of abstraction. [Edgar Degas. "Ballet Scene," c. 1879. Pastel over monotype on paper. Plate: 8 x 16 in. (20.3 x 40.6 cm). William I. Koch Collection]
You probably know Degas for his energetic portraits of ballet dancers. With MoMA's first-ever monographic exhibition of the French artist, you'll get an inside look at his entire creative process—wipes, scratches, fingerprints, and all—through 120 rare monotypes, 60 paintings, and various drawings, pastels, and prints. Oh, and did we mention it has Sarah Jessica Parker's stamp of approval?
6. Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk at the Queens Museum, April 10, 2016 - July 31, 2016
Whether you're a die-hard fan of the legendary punk rock band or just appreciate a really good retrospective, you'll enjoy this rousing exhibit, which follows the group from their humble beginnings in Queens, N.Y., to their extraordinary influence on fashion, comic books, and, of course, music.