As the weather heats up, so do these marquee exhibits at museums in Boston and beyond
By now most museums around the Commonwealth have re-opened or set a date to start allowing visitors again, much to the excitement of the museum-going public. Case in point is the Seaport’s Institute of Contemporary Art, which threw its doors back open on the first day of spring, March 20. Many of its existing displays have been extended deep into spring and summer, including the timely i’m yours: Encounters with Art in Our Times (through May 23), while the new installation by Eva LeWitt welcomes visitors as they walk into the ICA’s lobby. In the Fenway, the Museum of Fine Arts (pictured) highlights Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip-Hop Generation through July 25, as well as the blockbuster Monet and Boston: Legacy Illuminated, which begins April 17. Around the corner, the beloved Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum boasts its year-round garden courtyard (the bright orange hanging nasturtiums are a particular highlight every April), as well as the dazzling Shen Wei: Painting in Motion through June 20.
Besides the city’s famed art museums, the Museum of Science is one of Boston’s most popular destinations. This spring, the Science Behind Pixar continues to delight animation fans of all ages, while the new permanent exhibit Engineering Design Workshop made its debut March 22. Over by the Fort Point Channel, the Boston Children’s Museum has yet to announce an official spring opening date, yet it is open during school vacation (April 19–23) for those lucky few youngsters ages 5–7 who sign up for its April Adventure Week program, which offers special STEAM activities and a chance to explore the facility’s fun exhibits in small, safe groups throughout the week. On Dorchester’s Columbia Point, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum remains closed, yet its famed Forums continue in the virtual world. Upcoming on April 11 is the Pen/Hemingway Awards Celebration 2021, which honors the winner and finalists for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel. Speakers include famed documentarian Ken Burns.
While not a museum in the traditional sense, the living collection of sea creatures at the New England Aquarium is a treat for the entire family. Advance tickets for reduced-capacity entry are selling out on a regular basis, so plan ahead, especially for the upcoming school vacation week in April.
In Cambridge, the MIT- and Harvard University-associated museums are still closed, yet there are a variety of online programs, lectures and virtual tours being offered on a regular basis at the Harvard Art Museums and the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture. Speaking of which, the Harvard Museum of Natural History hosts virtual tours of is its world-famous Glass Flowers exhibit on April 15, May 11 and June 9. Perfect for spring, even virtually.
Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, the country’s oldest continuously operating museum, has a wealth of exhibits to explore this spring, including one featuring the fantastical work of New York-based painter Alexis Rockman through May 31, as well as In American Waters, a historical look at maritime paintings that begins May 29. Also on the North Shore, the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, currently open to the public Thursday through Sunday, features a display on former resident Judith Sargent Murray, an early advocate for women’s rights. The illuminating exhibit, up through May 2, features a portrait of Murray by John Singleton Copley as its centerpiece. Farther west in Central Massachusetts, the Museum of Russian Icons, open Friday through Sunday, highlights the work of Russian-born American artist Alexander Gassel, finely detailed Russian lacquer box paintings and intricately painted Ukrainian Easter eggs by artist Lesia Sochor, while at the not-too-distant Worcester Art Museum patrons can find an intriguing showcase of stolen Nazi art that begins April 10, as well as a show on Japanese kimonos up through May 2. In Amherst, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art hosts the exhibit On the Move with Eric Carle, while out in the Berkshires, the Clark Art Institute, Norman Rockwell Museum and the massive contemporary art complex that is MASS MoCA offer countless treasures for art-lovers of all stripes to explore.