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Museums’ Comeback Collections

After the widespread disruption of 2020, many of the country’s top museums now have blockbuster exhibitions scheduled to help bring visitors back. From Los Angeles to New York, here are some of the top upcoming exhibitions groups won’t want to miss.


‘Van Gogh and the Olive Groves’

Dallas Museum of Art

October 17, 2021-February 6, 2022

In 2021, the Dallas Museum of Art and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will collaborate on the first-ever exhibition dedicated to Vincent van Gogh’s olive grove series, which he painted while at the asylum of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence between June and December 1889. The paintings and drawings in the series are from both public and private collections around the world. This is the first time they have been reunited in an exhibition. The exhibition also highlights new discoveries about the artist’s techniques, materials and palette that emerged from a collaborative conservation and scientific research project that included all 15 paintings in the series.

“This exciting partnership with the Van Gogh Museum leverages the joint strengths of our two institutions — in curating and research — to present a fresh look at a much-beloved artist,” said Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director. “Through world-class exhibitions such as this one, as well as the scholarship behind them, the DMA continues to uncover new insights on even the most time-honored artists for our communities and the art world more broadly.”

The collection of paintings and drawings in the exhibition reveals Van Gogh’s passionate investigation of the expressive powers of color and line and his choice of the olive groves as an evocative subject. It also explores Van Gogh’s tendency to produce groups of paintings on one subject that captured his interest.

‘Hayao Miyazaki’

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles

Opening September 30

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which will open to the public September 30, will feature a temporary exhibit of Hayao Miyazaki’s work. The exhibit highlights 300 objects from all of Miyazaki’s animated feature films, including “My Neighbor Totoro” and the Academy Award-winning “Spirited Away.”

“Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most important filmmakers of our time and has left his mark across filmmaking, not just animation,” said Raul Guzman, assistant curator at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. “As the first museum retrospective dedicated to Miyazaki in North America, the exhibition represents every production step in his filmmaking: storyboards, image boards, layouts, backgrounds, character sketches, just to name a few. We’re so happy to have collaborated with Studio Ghibli in bringing objects, many of which have never before left Japan, to the United States for the first time.”

The exhibit is designed to take visitors on a journey through Miyazaki’s works through the eyes of Mei, a 4-year-old character from “My Neighbor Totoro.” Each gallery details how Miyazaki created his memorable characters and how his films were made, including his long-term collaboration with the late Isao Takahata, with whom he founded Studio Ghibli.

The exhibition also touches on his earlier works as an animator, including “Heidi, Girl of the Alps” and his first feature film, “Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro.” Another gallery details how Miyazaki created his fantastical worlds, and the “Transformations” gallery explores the metamorphoses his characters and settings make in his films. “The Magical Forest” gallery shows how mystical trees in many of his films represent a connection to another world.

‘Niki de Saint Phalle

Museum of Modern Art PS1, Queens, New York

March 11-August

The Museum of Modern Art at PS1 in Queens will feature the first New York exhibition of the work of Niki de Saint Phalle, a visionary feminist and activist artist who began producing artworks related to women’s rights, climate change and HIV/AIDS in a variety of mediums in the 1960s. She is best known for her large-scale sculptures, architectural projects and sculpture gardens, but she also produced books, prints, films, theater sets, clothing, jewelry and her own perfume.

The artist was often at the forefront of addressing pressing social and political issues of her time. Her illustrated book “AIDS: You Can’t Catch It Holding Hands” was an attempt to destigmatize the disease.

The New York exhibition will take a closer look at Saint Phalle’s large-scale outdoor sculptures, including the Tarot Garden, a large architectural park outside Rome that she began constructing in the late 1970s and continued to develop alongside key collaborators until her death in 2002.

The Tarot Garden opened to the public in 1998. The sculptures are based on the Major Arcana of the tarot deck. The exhibition will include photos and drawings of the Tarot Garden as well as models that Saint Phalle created for its various structures.

‘Whistler to Cassatt: American Painters in France’

Denver Art Museum

November 14, 2021-February 13, 2022

The Denver Museum of Art’s “Whistler to Cassatt: American Painters in France” will feature more than 100 paintings from 1855 to 1913 that explore how American artists were influenced by the French style during that period. John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and James Abbott McNeill Whistler were among the first Americans to travel to Paris and other cities in Europe to study at the most famous art salons of the time.

The exhibition also details how American painters received instruction from private ateliers, at the École des Beaux-Arts and at artist colonies in Normandy and Brittany and how that instruction influenced their own artistic styles. The exhibition reveals that the artists who spent time in Paris painted in many different styles, including classicism, realism, tonalism, impressionism and hybrids of each. Each painting was the result of hours of labor-intensive preparation. The resulting work was a clear visual composition based on a literary narrative. Many works at the time focused on popular domestic themes and historical subjects.

“The Resurrection of Lazarus” (1896) and “The Young Sabot Maker” (1895) by Henry Ossawa Tanner, a Black American artist who trained at the Academie Julian, are on display, as are the works of Walter Gay, Henry Mosler and Frank Biggs, the first three American artists to have works acquired by the French state after the works were shown at the annual Salon.

‘The Lume Indianapolis’

Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

June 2021

Fans of Vincent van Gogh will not want to miss “The Lume Indianapolis” at Newfields’ Indianapolis Museum of Art. The multisensory exhibition, created by Australian-based Grande Experiences, will transform Van Gogh’s breathtaking post-impressionistic paintings into 3D, floor-to-ceiling digital works of art using nearly 150 state-of-the-art, high-definition projectors and a classical musical score.

Instead of slowly walking by Van Gogh’s paintings and reading placards about when and where he painted them, visitors to the exhibition will be able to walk through the artist’s greatest works, including “Sunflowers” and “The Starry Night.” The exhibit takes up 30,000 square feet on the fourth floor of the museum and is the largest continuous exhibition space in Newfields’ 137-year history.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to partner with Grande Experiences to become the first museum in the country to fully embrace the future of digital exhibitions,” said Charles Venable, director and CEO at Newfields. “My experience on other continents demonstrated how the combination of cutting-edge digital projection technology and great works of art can motivate new audiences to engage with art exhibitions. Welcoming diverse audiences is a major goal of Newfields, and we believe ‘The Lume Indianapolis’ will attract infrequent art museum visitors because they will be able to fully immerse themselves in an artist’s work in less formal ways than in a traditional gallery. ‘The Lume Indianapolis’ is more than an exhibition, it is an experience.”

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