It’s almost summer vacation season and a great time to explore what museums in the United States have to offer during the warmer months. Many combine fun and learning at exhibits on comedy, children’s books, crocodiles, baseball and more. Here are 11 travel-worthy exhibits this summer.
American baseball at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
June 29 – TBD 2019
The MLB All-Star Game will be held in Washington, DC, this summer, and the Library of Congress is hosting a free baseball exhibit to mark the occasion. With its vast archive of photos, newspaper clippings, letters, film reels, films and a huge collection of baseball cards, the history of baseball from the sandpit to the pros will come alive. Highlights include the first rules of the game, historic footage, first baseball cards, beloved baseball movies, broadcasts of iconic baseball moments, plus rare Hall of Famers interviews and films, including Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and others.
Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia
Until September 2, 2018
Arts organizations across the country are celebrating conductor, composer and social activist Leonard Bernstein this year to mark his centenary. The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia mounted the first large-scale museum exhibit on his personal life and career. It features 100 historic artifacts and photographs, such as Bernstein’s piano and family heirlooms. Multimedia elements enliven the exhibition, including a video of the maestro’s most memorable works (West Side Story and Mass) and documentary footage of his moving visit to Germany after World War II, where he conducted an orchestra of Holocaust survivors.
Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy and Busy Exhibition at the Family Museum in Bettendorf, Iowa
Until September 9, 2018
The first traveling exhibit dedicated to children’s author Eric Carle’s “Very” book series opens this summer in Iowa. The emphasis on play and learning will allow children to follow the path of the very hungry caterpillar, weave a web with the very busy spider, compose a night symphony with the very quiet cricket and other activities practices related to his books. They will also be able to create works of art using Carle’s hand-painted tissue paper collage technique and materials.
National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY
Opening August 2018
Get ready to laugh. The new National Comedy Center in Jamestown – the birthplace of Lucille Ball – celebrates the art of humor with more than 50 immersive exhibits and hologram performances by living and deceased comedians. Highlights will include George Carlin’s personal archive, an adults-only “Blue Room” focused on the mature and taboo subjects of comedy, and opportunities for guests to tell their own jokes. There will also be traditional exhibits with fun TV and movie props and costumes, dating back to the Vaudeville years.
Lee Friedlander in Louisiana at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
Until August 12, 2018
Lee Friedlander is considered one of the most important living American photographers. This summer, NOMA explores the impact of New Orleans in its photographic work focusing on jazz musicians, landmarks and street life. “As an artist whose images straddle the boundary of art and document, Friedlander was in a unique position to preserve the social and visual phenomena of New Orleans, creating a diverse body of work as humanistic as arts,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA. Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. The exhibition features vintage prints, previously unseen images and a presentation (until June 17) of his color photographs by artists including Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Tammy Wynette and Ray Charles.
The power of poison at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami
Until September 3, 2018
From fairy tale plots to deadly creatures of nature to ancient (and modern) history, poison is a part of life. The Frost Science Museum is taking a look at the deadly substance in its many forms this summer. The power of poison examines poison and venom in nature, in myths and legends, in science, by accident, and as a force for good in life-saving medicines. In addition to poison frogs and poisonous snakes, visitors will see exhibits about Snow White and dangerous creatures in the Aquarium (lionfish, scorpionfish, stonefish, rabbitfish, etc.).
Giacometti at the Guggenheim Museum in New York
June 8 – September 12, 2018
The Guggenheim is hosting the first major museum exhibition in the United States dedicated to Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti in more than 15 years. The modernist artist is known for his sculptures reflecting trauma in the aftermath of World War II. Encompassing his entire career, the museum has collected more than 175 works, some of which have never been exhibited in the United States. It also features historic photographs documenting Giacometti’s relationship with the Guggenheim, starting in 1955, when the museum first exhibited his sculpture work.
Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Mirrors at the Cleveland Museum of Art
From July 7 to September 30, 2018
After a record run at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC, Yayoi Kusama Infinite mirrors exhibition arrives in Cleveland. In the most Instagrammable art exhibition around, visitors explore seven of Kusama’s kaleidoscopic “Infinity Mirror Rooms” full of color, light and reflection. Also on display are over 90 other works by the contemporary Japanese artist, including paintings, sculptures and works on paper. Book your tickets in advance: this photogenic spectacle should sell out quickly.
RESPECT: hip-hop style and wisdom at the Oakland Museum of California
Until August 12, 2018
In recognition of Oakland and the Bay Area’s influence on hip-hop, a new exhibit focuses on the distinct culture through its art, music, photography, video, dance and fashion. Among the 200 exhibits, highlights of the exhibit include turntables from Grandmaster Flash, a handwritten note by Tupac Shakur, and the work of painter Kehinde Wiley (who just unveiled a portrait of Barack Obama). An interactive feature provides space to practice hip-hop skills, including DJing, breakdancing, graffiti and animation.
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in Niagara Falls, NY
As the gateway to freedom in Canada, Niagara Falls was an important part of the Underground Railroad. The new Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center — which opened in May in the newly restored 1863 U.S. Customs House — tells the story of the area’s freedom seekers and abolitionists. Highlights include a recreation of the Cataract House, a prominent hotel whose all-African-American wait staff helped cross Canada, and the International Suspension Bridge where Harriet Tubman and others crossed the border to regain freedom. Artist EB Lewis illustrated many of the images in the exhibit to bring the stories to life.
Crocs: ancient predators in a modern world at the Boston Science Museum
Until September 3, 2018
Get up close to live crocodiles this summer at what’s being called the most comprehensive traveling crocodilian exhibit to date. Thanks to their robust bodies, keen senses and complex social lives, these reptiles have been around for over 200 million years. Learn all about their evolutionary history, biology, and behavior, as well as their relationship to human societies. The exhibit features a few species of live crocodiles, skeletons and an interactive element where visitors can test their strength against that of a crocodile bite.