Renowned for its dramatic Atlantic coastline, changing autumn foliage and forested mountains, New England is a nature lover’s paradise. But the northeastern region of the US is also rich with cultural landmarks and attractions that draw visitors from across the country and beyond. Among them is a diverse mix of museums and arts institutions, all of which play host to regular exhibitions focussing on an eclectic assortment of subject matter.
Whether you’re a fan of modern or sculptural art, photography, New England’s rich maritime heritage, or any other subject or genre, you’re certain to find a fascinating exhibition during your visit. For those coming this Fall, we’ve picked out 10 of the best exhibitions taking place here over the next few months.
Microbial Life: A Universe at the Edge of Sight
Housed in the Harvard University Museum Building, this exhibition transports visitors on a multimedia journey into the fascinating and diverse realm of microbial life. The exhibition starts with a familiar entrance point to microbial life – a full-scale model of a domestic kitchen – before interactive stations introduce visitors to bacteria, microbes and other miniscule lifeforms. Other highlights include specimen displays and models from the collections of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.
LOCATION Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Massachusetts DATES 15 February 2018-1 March 2020
Contemporary American Regionalism: Vermont Perspectives
Southern Vermont Arts Center, one of New England’s most renowned multidisciplinary arts organisation, plays host to this captivating exhibition that showcases a wide range of art from a regionalist perspective. Curated by artist, cultural worker, and writer Ric Kasini Kadour, the exhibition offers an opportunity to consider contemporary American regionalism and the role art plays in society. Visitors can also listen to a series of talks that elaborate on these themes.
LOCATION Southern Vermont Arts Center, Vermont DATES 17 August-20 October 2019
A History of GM Design & Concept Cars
Fans of classic GM cars are in for a treat at the Audrain Auto Museum, which is currently displaying 12 of the legendary car manufacturer’s most influential concept models. Co-curated by distinguished historian and writer, Donald Osborne, the exhibition highlights the many engineering, design, and human advancements that were completed behind the scenes in order to create these unique automobiles. Among the most notable cars on show at the exhibition are the 1938 Buick Y-Job, the Cadillac Le Mans, and the Chevrolet Corvair.
LOCATION Audrain Auto Museum, Newport, Rhode Island DATES 2 August-11 November 2019
Raid the Icebox Now
One of the most celebrated and subversive exhibitions in contemporary art history. Raid the Icebox I with Andy Warhol presented entire sections of objects as they appeared in storage, with little or no regard for their condition or authenticity, when it was unveiled 50 years ago. Created to celebrate this anniversary, the RISD Museum has engaged a number of contemporary artists and designers to create new bodies of work that highlight the strengths and idiosyncrasies of the museum’s collection, which includes more than 100,000 works spanning ancient times to the present.
LOCATION RISD Museum, Rhode Island DATES 23 August-27 December 2019
Reality, Abstraction, and the Artist’s Eye
A diverse array of sixty dynamic watercolours, including landscape elements from rural to urban, are showcased at this juried exhibition in the esteemed galleries of Governor John Landgon House. Visitors can enjoy works that depict undiscovered and unexplored moments in the region, and subjects that represent what it is to experience New England, including several impressive pieces by artist-in-residence Seth Berkowitz.
LOCATION Governor John Langdon House, Portsmouth, New Hampshire DATES 1 June-13 October 2019
Shipwrecks & Salvage
The Maine Maritime Museum is the setting for this immersive exploration of the rich maritime archaeology of Maine. Exhibits invite visitors to learn about the sites that have played a vital role in the area’s marine heritage, as well as the technologies that allow undersea exploration and exploitation, past and present. The exhibition also challenges visitors to consider how and why these sites should be preserved.
LOCATION Maine Maritime Museum DATES 18 May-3 October 2019
Ceremonial Dress from Southwest China
Drawn from a recent gift to the Yale University Art Gallery, this exhibition showcases the visual imagination, artistic skill, and technical knowledge that goes into the production of the ceremonial clothing of communities living in Sichuan, Hunan, and other provinces of southwestern China. In addition to over 15 ensembles, the exhibition features silver headdress ornaments, necklaces, and bracelets produced by men in the same communities and worn as symbols of skill and wealth.
LOCATION Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut DATES 6 September-5 January 2020
Visions of Design: Parallels in Mid-Century Modern and Shaker Furniture
The Shakers were a religious communal society who settled throughout the eastern United States in the mid-1800s. Drawn from Field Farm in Williamstown, the former home of avid modern art and furniture collectors Lawrence and Eleanor Pamedo Bloedel, this exhibition showcases a diverse collection of modernist furniture and art that was inspired by the society’s close relationship with the natural landscape.
LOCATION Fruitlands Museum, Harvard, Massachusetts DATES 11 May 2019-22 March 2020
Lighter, Stronger, Faster: The Herreshoff Legacy
This exhibition celebrates the spirit of innovation by examining the huge impact that Nathanael Greene Herreshoff (an alumni of Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company had on marine design and engineering. Through gallery installations and interactive digital media, Herreshoff’s magnificent contributions to nautical design and craftsmanship are brought to life.
LOCATION MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts DATES 18 October 2018-1 May 2021
Nothing More American: Immigration, Sanctuary, and Community
Immigration is a fraught topic right now, but this exhibition serves to remind us of the real human faces behind the movement of people across borders. In 2018, the First Congregational Church in the town of Old Lyme shot portraits of a family of Pakistani refugees who were given shelter at the church for several months, and this exhibition presents a collection of some of the evocative photos taken of the family during their time here.
LOCATION Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut DATES 28 September 2019-24 May 2020
By Paul Joseph