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Things to do this week in NYC May 14-May 21: Museums

Some of the world's most impressive museums and exhibits are in New York?including the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and (of course) the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One of the great things to do in NYC is to visit these spectacular collections. Whether you're a native New Yorker or here on vacation, NYC's museums have something new and interesting to offer everybody! Here is a list of what's going on this week at museums throughout New York City.

Intervals: Futurefarmers - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Through May 14, 2011 -

Futurefarmers, a San Francisco–based art collective, creates projects that are diverse both in terms of production and in their strategies of audience engagement. For the Guggenheim's Intervals series the group investigates the vanishing art of shoemaking with a site-specific installation for the museum.

The Global Africa Project - Museum of Arts & Design
Through May 15, 2011 -

An unprecedented exhibition exploring the broad spectrum of contemporary African art, design, and craft worldwide. Featuring the work over 100 artists working in Africa, Europe, Asia, the United States, and the Caribbean, The Global Africa Project surveys the rich pool of new talent emerging from the African continent and its influence on artists around the world. Through ceramics, basketry, textiles, jewelry, furniture, and fashion, as well as selective examples of architecture, photography, painting, and sculpture, the exhibition actively challenges conventional notions of a singular African aesthetic or identity, and reflects the integration of African art and design without making the usual distinctions between "professional" and "artisan." Closed Mon.

The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918 - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Through June 01, 2011 -

When Vasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc formed Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) group in late 1911, the artists predicted a watershed in the arts, a große Umwälzung (great upheaval) that would radically challenge traditional artistic production. Undoubtedly, tremendous creativity and innovation characterized the years leading up to World War I, especially 1910–14. Cubism achieved recognition in Paris, sparking new artistic directions in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia. Art's more expressionistic manifestations were at an equally momentous stage in Germany and Austria; Kandinsky wrote his influential treatise On the Spiritual in Art in late 1911 (published 1912), and abstraction took hold. The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910–1918 features more than 100 works from the museum's holdings, attesting to this period of collaboration, interchange, synthesis, and innovation.

Glenn Ligon: America - Whitney Museum of American Art
Through June 05, 2011 -

Glenn Ligon: AMERICA is the first comprehensive mid-career retrospective devoted to this pioneering New York–based artist. Throughout his career, Ligon (b. 1960) has pursued an incisive exploration of American history, literature, and society across a body of work that builds critically on the legacies of modern painting and more recent conceptual art. He is best known for his landmark series of text-based paintings, made since the late 1980s, which draw on the writings and speech of diverse figures including Jean Genet, Zora Neale Hurston, Jesse Jackson, and Richard Pryor. Ligon's subject matter ranges widely from the Million Man March and the aftermath of slavery to 1970s coloring books and the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe—all treated within artworks that are both politically provocative and beautiful to behold.

Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Through June 06, 2011 -

Sometime between October and December 1912, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) made a guitar. Cobbled together from cardboard, paper, string, and wire, materials that he cut, folded, threaded, and glued, Picasso's silent instrument resembled no sculpture ever seen before. In 1914 the artist reiterated his fragile papery construction in a more fixed and durable sheet metal form. These two Guitars, both gifts from the artist to MoMA, bracket an incandescent period of material and structural experimentation in Picasso's work. Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 explores this breakthrough moment in 20th-century art, and the Guitars' place within it. Bringing together some 70 closely connected collages, constructions, drawings, mixed-media paintings, and photographs assembled from over 30 public and private collections worldwide, this exhibition offers fresh insight into Picasso's cross-disciplinary process in the years immediately preceding World War I.

Bye Bye Kitty!!! Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art - Japan Society
Through June 12, 2011 -

Curated by David Elliott, founding Director of the Mori Art Museum, Bye Bye Kitty!!! is a radical departure from recent Japanese exhibitions. Moving far beyond the stereotypes of kawaii and otaku culture, Japan Society's show features sixteen emerging and mid-career artists whose paintings, objects, photographs, videos, and installations meld traditional styles with challenging visions of Japan's troubled present and uncertain future. Each of the three sections, "Critical Memory," "Threatened Nature," and "Unquiet Dream," not only offers a feast for the senses but also demolishes our preconceptions about contemporary Japan and its art.

A Year With Children 2011 - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Through June 15, 2011 -

This exhibition showcases art by students participating in Learning Through Art (LTA), an educational program of the Guggenheim Museum. LTA places professional teaching artists in public elementary schools in New York, where they collaborate with teachers to develop art projects that teach students art skills and techniques while exploring themes related to the school curriculum. The program encourages curiosity, critical thinking, and ongoing collaborative investigation. -- Greer Kudon, Senior Manager, Learning Through Art

Vertical Urban Factory - Skyscraper Museum
Through June 30, 2011 -

Vertical Urban Factory surveys more than 30 projects, including canonic examples of Modernism and new or recycled industrial architecture. The installation features over 200 photographs, diagrams, and drawings. Nine architectural models created for the exhibit using state-of the-art computer fabrication highlight a progressive design and construction. A series of films by documentary filmmaker Eric Breitbart use historical and contemporary footage to immerse the gallery visitor in the environment of conveyors systems and industrial processes. Hours: Noon-6pm, Wed.–Sun.

"Vertical Urban Factory" - Skyscraper Museum
Through June 30, 2011 - Manhattan

This exhibit surveys more than 30 projects, including canonic examples of Modernism and new or recycled industrial architecture. The installation features more than 200 photographs, diagrams, and drawings.

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through July 04, 2011 -

This exhibition focuses on the Romantic motif of the open window as first captured by German, Danish, French, and Russian artists around 1810–20. These works include hushed, sparse rooms showing contemplative figures, studios with artists at work, and window views as sole motifs. The exhibition will feature some thirty oils and thirty works on paper by, among others, C. D. Friedrich, C. G. Carus, G. F. Kersting, Adolph Menzel, C. W. Eckersberg, Martinus Rorbye, Jean Alaux, and Leon Cogniet. Loans to the exhibition will come from museums in Germany, Denmark, France, Austria, Sweden, Italy, and the United States.

A Song for the Horse Nation - National Museum of the American Indian
Through July 07, 2011 -

A Song for the Horse Nation presents the epic story of the horse's influence on American Indian tribes from the 1600s to the present. Drawing upon a treasure-trove of stunning historical objects -- including ledger drawings, hoof ornaments, beaded bags, hide robes, paintings, and other objects -- and new pieces by contemporary Native artists, the exhibition reveals how horses shaped the social, economic, cultural, and spiritual foundations of American Indian life, particularly on the Great Plains.

German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Through July 11, 2011 -

From E. L. Kirchner to Max Beckmann, artists associated with German Expressionism in the early decades of the twentieth century took up printmaking with a collective dedication and fervor virtually unparalleled in the history of art. The woodcut, with its coarse gouges and jagged lines, is known as the preeminent Expressionist medium, but the Expressionists also revolutionized the mediums of etching and lithography to alternately vibrant and stark effect. This exhibition, featuring approximately 250 works by some thirty artists, is drawn from MoMA's outstanding holdings of German Expressionist prints, enhanced by selected drawings, paintings, and sculptures from the collection. The graphic impulse is traced from the formation of the Brücke artists group in 1905, through the war years of the 1910s, and extending into the 1920s, when individual artists continued to produce compelling work even as the movement was winding down. The exhibition takes a broad view of Expressionism, highlighting a diverse array of individuals—from Oskar Kokoschka and Vasily Kandinsky to Erich Heckel and Emil Nolde—who nonetheless shared visual and thematic concerns. Their works reflect a period of intense social and aesthetic transformation, and several themes of continuing resonance emerge. These include a focus on urban experience, an uncompromising approach to the body and sexuality, and an abiding preoccupation with nature, religion, and spirituality. Most pivotal for these years, however, was the experience of World War I. The war and its aftermath are the subject of works by a range of artists, including Otto Dix, whose series of fifty searing etchings, The War, was based on his own service in the trenches; Käthe Kollwitz, in a portfolio of seven woodcuts focusing on the devastation felt by the families left behind; and Max Beckmann, whose lithographic series, Hell (1919), confronts the violence and decadence in Berlin during the immediate postwar period. In addition to a publication and a major website on German Expressionism, the exhibition will mark the culmination of a major four-year grant from The Annenberg Foundation to digitize, catalogue, and conserve all of the approximately three thousand Expressionist works on paper in the Museum's collection.

Body & Spirit: Tibetan Medical Paintings - American Museum of Natural History
Through July 17, 2011 -

An exhibition of 64 Tibetan medical paintings (also known as tangkas), in the Museum's fourth-floor Audubon Gallery. On view for the first time in a museum exhibition, these hand-painted reproductions of traditional scroll paintings provide a unique and richly illustrated history of early medical knowledge and procedures in Tibet and are believed to be among only a handful of such sets in existence. Each of the paintings on display was painstakingly reproduced by hand in the late 1990s by Romio Shrestha, a Nepalese artist, and his students, who followed the Tibetan tradition of copying older paintings, basing their work on two published sets of medical tangkas likely painted in the early 1900s that were copies of the original set. The originals were created in the late 1600s to illustrate the Blue Beryl, an important commentary on the classic Tibetan medical text, The Four Tantras. Also on display in this exhibition is a Buddha statue made of gilded copper alloy, minerals used in medicine, and Tibetan medical instruments from the early 1900s. The Museum is deeply grateful to Emily H. Fisher and John Alexander, whose vision and generosity supported the acquisition and conservation of this collection of Tibetan Medical Paintings. Body and Spirit is made possible by a very generous gift from the Estate of Marian O. Naumburg.

Alexander McQueen - Savage Beauty - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through July 31, 2011 -

The exhibition, organized by The Costume Institute, celebrates the late Alexander McQueen's extraordinary contributions to fashion. From his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection of 1992 to his final runway presentation, which took place after his death in February 2010, Mr. McQueen challenged and expanded the understanding of fashion beyond utility to a conceptual expression of culture, politics, and identity. His iconic designs constitute the work of an artist whose medium of expression was fashion. The exhibition will feature approximately one hundred ensembles and seventy accessories from Mr. McQueen's prolific nineteen-year career. Drawn primarily from the Alexander McQueen Archive in London, with some pieces from the Givenchy Archive in Paris as well as private collections, signature designs including the 'bumster' trouser, the kimono jacket, and the three-point "origami" frock coat will be on view. McQueen's fashions often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the 1860s, 1880s, 1890s, and 1950s, but his technical ingenuity always imbued his designs with an innovative sensibility that kept him at the vanguard.

Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Through August 01, 2011 -

Francis Alÿs (b. 1959, Antwerp, Belgium) uses poetic and allegorical methods to address political and social realities, such as national borders, localism and globalism, areas of conflict and community, and the benefits and detriments of progress. Alÿs's personal, ambulatory explorations of cities form the basis for his practice, through which he compiles extensive and varied documentation that reflects his ideas and process. As one of the foremost artists of his generation, Alÿs has produced a complex and diverse body of work that includes video, painting, performance, drawing, and photography. This exhibition draws on the Museum's unique and important collection of Alÿs's work, highlighting three recent major acquisitions—Re-enactments (2001), When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), and Rehearsal I (Ensayo I) (1999–2001)—which include video installations, paintings, drawings, collages, photographs, and newspaper clippings. These works present an investigation of methods of social action, from rehearsals and re-enactments in urban environments that address the politics of public space to large-scale communal participation where the culmination of many small acts achieves mythic proportions. The exhibition, which is conceptually grouped around these three thematic bodies of work, also includes additional artworks that the artist has developed around the idea of rehearsal and re-enactment in relation to progress in art and everyday life. The exhibition continues at MoMA PS1 with an in-depth look at Modern Procession (2002), a piece commissioned by MoMA to mark it's temporary relocation to Queens during the Museum's 2002–04 expansion project.

Joel Grey/A New York Life - Museum of the City of New York
Through August 07, 2011 -

Joel Grey/A New York Life examines the enduring impact that performer and photographer Joel Grey and his adopted city have made on each other. Through rare artifacts from his stage and screen career, objects from his personal collection, and his own photography, the exhibition offers a unique look at New York through Grey's eyes. Joel Grey/A New York Life will include posters, playbills, and costume pieces from Grey's iconic productions, combined with a selection of his New York City photographs. Together, they dramatize how the breadth of his artistic work has been nurtured and inspired by his life in New York City. Closed Mon.

Brain: The Inside Story - American Museum of Natural History
Through August 14, 2011 -

This unprecedented journey through the essential bundle of neurons that is the human brain offers insight through a sensory feast of imaginative art, vivid brain scan imaging, and thrilling interactive exhibits. Features include a "Brain Lounge," where you can view colorful, functional brain scans -- or fMRIs -- of two musicians, a NY Knick, and a U.N. translator. Open daily. $16; children 2-12, $9.

Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through August 28, 2011 -

This first retrospective of drawings by the contemporary American artist Richard Serra (b. 1939) presents a comprehensive overview of some forty years of his drawing activity. It traces the development of drawing as an art form independent from yet linked to his sculptural practice. Drawing for Serra has always played a crucial role in the investigation of new concepts and new creative methods. It has been a means of exploration of formal and perceptual relationships between the artwork and the viewer. His innovative ideas have radically transformed the traditional understanding of drawing as a form outlined against a background of the paper support, and exponentially expanded the definition of modern drawing through novel techniques, unusual media, monumental scale, and carefully conceived relationships to surrounding spaces.

Thinking Outside the Box: European Cabinets, Caskets, and Cases from the Permanent Collection (1500-1900) - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through August 31, 2011 -

This installation features a selection of one hundred examples of important boxes, caskets, and small chests from the Metropolitan Museum's European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department. For centuries, boxes, caskets, cabinets, and chests played an important role in everyday life. Ranging from strongboxes to travel cases and from containers for tea or tobacco to those for the storage of toiletries or silverware, these lidded pieces were made in a large variety of shapes and sizes, and of many different materials. The form and decoration of these objects not only reflect changes in social customs and manners but also follow the stylistic developments in Europe over four hundred years. Pieces made of tortoiseshell, carved and veneered wood, porcelain, hard stones and natural substances, embroidery, various metals, leather, enamel, pastiglia, and straw will be included. These objects, some of which have not been on display for years, were much more than mere containers and often became precious works of art, collected in their own right.

A Chronology: The Guggenheim Collection, 1909-1979 - Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Through September 11, 2011 -

In 1937, Solomon R. Guggenheim established a foundation with the goal of opening a museum to publicly exhibit and preserve his holdings of modern art. Since then, the museum's founding collection has been enhanced through major gifts and purchases from pioneering individuals who share Guggenheim's spirit. A Chronology: The Guggenheim Collection, 1909-1979 presents a visually dynamic time line of this extraordinary metamorphosis from private collection to public museum.

Inspiration and Industry - American Women on the Home Front - Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Through September 18, 2011 -

The purpose of wartime posters was to unify and mobilize Americans. During World War I and World War II, U.S. government posters urged all citizens to make a personal commitment to the war effort. The special exhibition Inspiration and Industry draws upon original wartime posters to explore the contributions of women during these two conflicts.

Breaking Ground: The Whitney's Founding Collection - Whitney Museum of American Art
Through September 18, 2011 -

At the turn of the twentieth century, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an heiress and sculptor born to one of America's wealthiest families, began to assemble a rich and highly diverse collection of modern American art. This group of objects, combined with a trove of new works purchased around the time of the Whitney Museum's opening in 1931, came together to form the founding collection. This exhibition features a selected group of works from the approximately 1,000 objects in the Whitney's founding collection, including iconic paintings by artists such as Stuart Davis, Charles Sheeler, George Bellows, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as works by lesser-known artists. Co-curated by Barbara Haskell and Sasha Nicholas. Breaking Ground: The Whitney's Founding Collection is the first in a multiyear series of exhibitions aimed at reassessing the museum's collection. Unfolding in chronological order over a two year period, these exhibitions will explore overlooked developments in American art and reconsider iconic figures and masterworks within new frameworks and contexts.

Anthony Caro on the Roof - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Through October 30, 2011 -

Sculptures by Anthony Caro (b. 1924) -- who is considered the most influential and prolific British sculptor of his generation and a key figure in the development of modernist sculpture over the last sixty years -- is featured in the 2011 installation on The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The installation features a selection of sculpture in steel, painted and unpainted, spanning the artist's career to date and highlighting principal aspects of his long career: engagement with form in space, dialogue between sculpture and architecture, and creation of new, abstract analogies for the human figure and landscape.

The World's Largest Dinosaurs - American Museum of Natural History
Through January 02, 2012 -

A new exhibition that goes beyond traditional fossil shows to reveal how dinosaurs actually lived by taking visitors into the amazing anatomy of a uniquely super-sized group of dinosaurs: the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods, which ranged in size from 15 to 150 feet long. Drawing on the latest science that looks in part to existing organisms to understand these extinct giants, The World's Largest Dinosaurs will answer such intriguing questions as how an extremely large animal breathes, eats, moves, and survives by illuminating how size and scale are related to basic biological functions. Innovative interactive exhibits -- including the exhibition centerpiece, a life-sized, fleshed-out model of a 60-foot- long, 11-foot-tall female Mamenchisaurus, known for its remarkable, 30-foot neck -- will take visitors inside these giants' bodies, shedding light on how heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and reproduction are linked to size. An interactive excavation at the end of the exhibition will introduce visitors to how dinosaurs are discovered in the field through a replicated dig site.

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