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Travel News: This Fall's Not-to-Be-Missed Museum Shows

By The Budget Travel Editors
January 12, 2022
People on roof deck of modern building
Yooran Park/Dreamstime
Museums across America have an exciting array of arts and culture on offer this fall.

As the leaves change and temperatures drop, back-to-school vibes are in the air, and our thoughts turn to educational pursuits. But not to worry: The fun doesn't have to end at Labor Day. Museums across the country are rolling out autumnal programming that will get your mental juices flowing, and there's not a dull bit in the bunch. We've rounded up the best of the best, from fashion and film to paintings and pinball. Here's how to expand your horizons this fall.

Los Angeles

While most of the world obsesses over Virtual Reality and IMAX films, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org) casts a glance backwards to look at the whole history of the three-dimensional experience. 3D: Double Vision, 175 years of 3D imagery (through March 31) presents artwork from as far back as 1830, when the Victorian invention of the stereoscope changed how people consumed photographs and current events, and moves through 20th-century developments like 3D motion pictures and View Masters. Underscoring the crossover between pop culture, art, science, high-tech, and nature, it’ll likely get you thinking in new dimensions.  

Baltimore

Beloved in cinema circles for boundary-pushing movies like Pink Flamingos and cult classics like Hairspray and Cry-Baby, John Waters isn’t particularly known for his visual art—but that’s about to change. This fall, Baltimore welcomes home its native son with the first retrospective of his non-film work. John Waters: Indecent Exposure opens at the Baltimore Museum of Art (artbma.org) in October, running through January 6 before continuing on to Columbus, Ohio’s Wexner Center in February. The exhibit features more than 160 photos, sculptures, and video and sound pieces by the outré director, plus peep-show style film footage from the ‘60s. In keeping with Waters’s reputation, you’re pretty much guaranteed a provocative show.

New York City

Another much-lauded, multi-talented filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick might be best recognized for such masterpieces as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining, but before he stepped behind the viewfinder, he used a camera to capture the pulse of New York. In the years preceding his film career, he served as a staff photographer for Look magazine, and a collection of his images—many previously unpublished—are on display at one of our favorite institutions, the Museum of the City of New York (mcny.org). Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs (through October 28) lends insight to his formative years and shows the full range of his vision, from nightclubs and street scenes to sporting events and slice-of-life snaps.

You could call Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again (November 12 to March 31) at the Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org) a homecoming. Few figures did as much to define New York City’s—and America’s—arts and culture landscape as he did, and this show at the Whitney’s new downtown location brings together 350 pieces to celebrate his legacy, making it the first Warhol retrospective in the United States since 1989. The show is designed as a chronological record of his career, showing the evolution of his work from his early days as a commercial illustrator to pioneer of Pop Art to trailblazer and tastemaker in the worlds of experimental film and painting. And looking at it through the lens of our digital era, there’s a good chance you’ll come away with a newfound respect for his creativity.

Detroit

Just when you thought the world had had enough of Star Wars, the Detroit Institute of Arts (dia.org) takes a spin into a galaxy far, far away, presenting Star Wars and the Power of Costume. There’s still time to catch it before it closes on September 30th, and catch it you should. Whether or not you’re a fan, it’s not an exaggeration to call it the opportunity of a lifetime. The original costumes of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and all the rest are on display alongside videos that give you an up-close look at the designers’ creative process and how they worked with the actors to get the look and feel just right. And when you consider that Smithsonian scholars penned the text about the historical and cultural context of costume, the intergalactic, immense impact of Star Wars on society becomes crystal clear.

Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (philadelphiamuseum.org) has long had an exceptional costume collection, but many of the pieces will be on view for the first time in this fall’s Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look To Now (October 16 to March 3). The haute inclinations of iconic designers are showcased in select gowns, bridal wear, daywear, and more, running the gamut from elaborate to bold and eccentric to intriguing. With their use of unorthodox materials and bold colors, the exhibit drives home how the showcased designers’ creativity and bold ideas influenced and changed the public’s understanding of fashion.

Cleveland

Pinball wizards take note: From Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Pinball Machine to The Who's Tommy Machine, legendary rock-n-roller-themed versions of the classic arcade game are now on display in Part of the Machine: Rock and Pinball, a new permanent exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (rockhall.com). Cooper himself was on-hand to consecrate the exhibit when it was unveiled in early August, and he did the voiceovers for his namesake game. Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and other Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members also have their own dedicated pinball machines. All the machines—vintage and new—are playable with admission to the institution. 

Chicago

A Life magazine assignment by noted photographer Gordon Parks and a decades-long chronicling of an improvisational music club by Mikki Ferrill, who contributed photos to Time, EbonyJet, and the Chicago Tribune, capture the character and style of Chicago’s South Side in the second half of the twentieth century, a time when the neighborhood was undergoing a sweeping transition. These photos and films are on display alongside those of other local artists in Never a Lovely So Real (through October 28) at the Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu). Collectively, the works document the neighborhood’s artistic evolution, from the Black Arts Movement to the revolutionary Bronzeville mural “Wall of Respect,” and show how the community contributed to Chicago's standing as an important city of culture. 

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