THESE FRESH-ON-THE-SCENE INSTITUTIONS SPOTLIGHT EVERYTHING FROM BROADWAY AND BOB DYLAN TO ASIAN CULTURE AND CONTEMPORARY ART
By Rhonda Reinhart
A visit to a museum is a search for beauty, truth and meaning in our lives. Go to museums as often as you can.”
–Maira Kalman, American artist and author
With the impressive roster of international museums that have recently made their bow, there’s a fresh supply of beauty, truth and meaning to be found across the globe. Whether you’re an art admirer, theater lover, baseball fan, music enthusiast or history buff, there’s a new cultural institution waiting to welcome you to a whole new world. In that spirit of discovery, we rounded up some of the most exciting museum openings that have taken place over the past year.
MAP Museum of Art and Photography
One of the newest museums on our list, MAP opened the doors to its 44,000-square-foot facility February 18 in South India’s capital city. The brainchild of Abhishek Poddar, the philanthropist who donated the museum’s founding collection, MAP offers more than 60,000 works celebrating South Asian art and culture, and it’s the first new public museum to open in India in 10 years. In addition to photographs, paintings, sculptures, textiles and other artworks dating from the 10th century to the present, the museum uses cutting-edge technology to offer virtual reality experiences and virtual exhibition tours. Visitors won’t want to miss the museum’s opening exhibition, “Visible/Invisible,” which explores the representation of women in Indian art history. Featuring more than 130 pieces, the exhibition includes a wide variety of works, such as a 10th-century sculpture of the goddess Brahmani, a 1986 hemp sculpture by Mrinalini Mukherjee, a 1957 movie poster from Mother India and K.G. Subramanyan’s 1981 painting Woman in a Blue Room.
Bob Dylan Center
Acquired by the George Kaiser Family Foundation in 2016, the Bob Dylan Archive contains more than 100,000 items from the legendary singer-songwriter’s life and career. Now, with the May 2022 opening of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa’s Arts District, Dylan devotees can get up close and personal with a curated selection of the Nobel Prize-winning musician’s handwritten song lyrics, photographs, artworks, musical instruments, unreleased concert recordings, never-before-seen film performances and more. The 29,000-square-foot center also features a re-creation of an authentic recording studio; an immersive film experience directed by renowned Dylan chronicler Jennifer Lebeau; an in-depth look at the making of classic songs such as “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Tangled Up in Blue,” and a multimedia timeline of the musician’s life, beginning with his early days in Duluth, Minnesota. As a bonus, when visitors have gotten their fill of Dylan memorabilia, they can move on to the nearby Woody Guthrie Center, another effort spearheaded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation.
Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Established names and emerging artists come together at ICA SF, San Francisco’s newest contemporary art museum. Committed to experimenting with new ideas and encouraging artists to push boundaries, the always-free, non-collecting museum began opening in phases last October. Now fully up and running, ICA SF has three inaugural exhibitions on display. In “This Burning World” (on view through March 26), Cherokee-Choctaw artist Jeffrey Gibson explores mankind’s connection to planet Earth with a 10-channel video documenting the changing seasons of New York’s Hudson Valley, where he lives and works. “Resting Our Eyes” (on view through June 25) focuses on the liberation of Black women and includes works in a variety of mediums by 20 Black artists, including Mickalene Thomas, Lauren Halsey, Derrick Adams and Carrie Mae Weems. And in “A Weed by Any Other Name” (also closing June 25), Oakland, California-based artists Liz Hernández and Ryan Whelan “consider the blackberry, humble and wild, as a symbol of resilience.”
At 130-plus years old, Manchester Museum is hardly new, but on February 18, after being closed for a year and a half for construction, the museum unveiled the results of an ambitious transformation project. The $18 million redevelopment includes a modern two-story extension to the original neo-Gothic building, which already housed approximately 4.5 million objects from natural sciences and human cultures. The addition made room for new exhibition spaces and increased the capacity of the museum, which is part of The University of Manchester and one of the largest university museums in the UK. In addition to a new dinosaur display, museumgoers will be treated to the new South Asia Gallery, the UK’s first permanent space to highlight the experiences and contributions of the South Asian diaspora. Another must-see: the museum’s opening exhibition, “Golden Mummies of Egypt,” featuring more than 100 objects and eight mummies.
Jackie Robinson Museum
New York, New York
He may be best known as the first African American to play Major League Baseball in the modern era, but Jackie Robinson was also an Army veteran, civil rights activist, family man and the first African American to serve as a vice president at a Fortune 500 company. The new Jackie Robinson Museum – which opened last September in New York City, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s debut season with the Brooklyn Dodgers – celebrates all facets of the 20th-century icon. Through artifacts, images, video installations and interactive elements, the museum’s displays tell the story of Robinson’s life and enduring legacy. Highlights include his military uniform; a game-day jersey and bat from 1947, the year he broke baseball’s color barrier; a state-of-the-art interactive replica of Ebbets Field; and the first national Rookie of the Year plaque ever awarded.
Museum of Broadway
New York, New York
Not to be upstaged, another New York City museum made its big debut last fall, this one dedicated to all things Broadway. The first permanent museum devoted to the Great White Way, the Museum of Broadway takes theater fans on an immersive and sometimes interactive journey through the past and present of Broadway, highlighting pivotal shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story, Wicked, Hamilton, Oklahoma! and Rent. Situated in the heart of the Theater District, the 26,000-square-foot museum features a series of exhibits showcasing costumes, props, rare photographs and more from productions spanning the 1700s to today. In addition to perusing Broadway artifacts, museumgoers can walk through a pink-feathered Ziegfeld Follies room, sit on a swing while listening to the tunes from Hair, ease on down a yellow LED staircase in a space celebrating The Wiz and go behind the scenes of a theatrical production in “The Making of a Broadway Show.”
When the National Museum opened in Oslo on June 11, 2022, it became the largest art museum in the Nordic countries. The sprawling two-story space houses Norway’s most extensive collection of Norwegian art, architecture and design spread across more than 80 rooms and spanning nearly 3,000 years of history. On the first floor, museumgoers can examine design and crafts ranging from imperial Roman busts and the nearly 1,000-year-old Baldishol Tapestry to contemporary Norwegian fashion. While on the second floor, still lifes from the 17th century and the earliest depictions of the Norwegian landscape sit alongside Hannah Ryggen’s tapestries, John Savio’s woodcuts and one of the world’s finest collections of paintings by Edvard Munch, including his 1893 masterpiece The Scream.
Hong Kong Palace Museum
A collaboration between the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and Beijing’s Palace Museum, the Hong Kong Palace Museum debuted last July along the Victoria Harbour waterfront. Dedicated to the study and appreciation of Chinese art, history and culture, the museum contains more than 900 treasures from the Palace Museum, some of them never before shown to the public. For its first special exhibition from its permanent collection, HKPM presents more than 200 sets of gold artifacts spanning more than 3,000 years. “Radiance: Ancient Gold from the Hong Kong Palace Museum Collection and the Mengdiexuan Collection” runs February 22 through September 25 and celebrates the artistic achievements of gold in ancient China. Expect precious objects from the Eurasian Steppe, Tubo Kingdom and Central Plains, including the gold crowns of the Xiongnu elite, decorations used by Tubo nobles and a jeweled headdress worn by princesses of the Tang dynasty.
RHONDA REINHART is editor of Intelligent Collector.