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12 Best New Exhibits to Visit Fall 2021 at Art Museums and Galleries

12 of the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. that you should add to your must-do list to visit and see this Fall 2021

Fall is almost here, and as part of our Fall 2021 Preview, we’re scoping out all the events, experiences and entertainment you should add to your calendar for the upcoming months. Why suffer from FOMO when you can tap into our edit of what’s worth investing time and money in this autumn? To that end, our correspondent Abbie Martin Greenbaum has curated a list of 12 of the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. that you should add to your must-do list to visit and see this Fall 2021, including exhibitions in New York City and Washington DC.

What are the 12 best new exhibits at U.S. museums and galleries to visit this Fall?

It may be hard to believe it, but we have only a few weeks left of summer 2021. And though it’s bittersweet to bid farewell to the sunniest season of the year, fall always manages to feel like a beautiful new beginning.

12 of the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. that you should add to your must-do list to visit and see this Fall 2021

12 of the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. that you should add to your must-do list to visit and see this Fall 2021. The Whitney Museum in New York City.

Maybe it’s the lasting imprint of so many back-to-school’s, but something about the changing leaves gets us excited for everything new. And you know what’s new this season? Art exhibits!

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The best art museums and galleries across the country are opening new exhibitions, and we can’t wait to pay them a visit over the next few months. Here are twelve to know about that you shouldn’t miss.

12 of the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. that you should add to your must-do list to visit and see this Fall 2021

12 of the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. that you should add to your must-do list to visit and see this Fall 2021. The High Museum in Atlanta.

12 best new exhibits at art museums and galleries to visit in Fall 2021

1. Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe

High Museum, Atlanta.

This is the first major exhibition of Nellie Mae Rowe’s work in more than twenty years. It will feature not only her drawings, but also recreations of the Playhouse: the space in Georgia where she lived and created, which she filled with found-art installations of her own design. In this way, visitors will be able to see these two different mediums in conversation with one another, and begin to better understand Rowe as an artist.

best new art exhibits Fall 2021

Dates: September 3, 2021 – January 9, 2022

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2. Ulysses Jenkins: Without Your Interpretation

Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia

In the first retrospective exhibit for the famous video artist, visitors will have a chance to see the work of a man who has had a profound influence on contemporary art. In particular, Jenkins is known for his use of technology, and the way he uses all the elements of video – sound, image, and iconography – to enormous effect. One of the video pieces in the exhibition is the well-known Mass of Images (1978), which critiques the media’s role in perpetuating anti-Blackness in America.

best new art exhibits Fall 2021

Dates: September 17, 2021 – December 30, 2021

3. In America, A Lexicon of Fashion

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Met has many exciting new exhibits on its fall calendar, one of which is a two-part, year-long exhibit about fashion from the Costume Institute. September marks the opening of Part I, with Part II scheduled for May of next year. Part I draws inspiration from the design of a patchwork quilt, with its 100 different ensembles arranged in rows and columns across the exhibit. Each line is intended to represent a different aspect of American fashion.  The designs will showcase a broad and diverse range of artists across the industry, with the many pieces coming together to create an overarching shared vocabulary. And yes, the exhibit will be preceded by the Met Gala – we can’t wait.

best new art exhibits Fall 2021

Dates: September 18, 2021 – September 5, 2022.

4. Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

October 10, 2021 – January 17, 2022

The Costume Institute’s exhibit is not the only one thinking about quilts this fall. This new show at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts will tell the story of quilt making in America. Unlike many quilt exhibits, this one will approach its story chronologically, and from many perspectives. Split into seven sections, the exhibit will incorporate voices across many professions and communities, to help spectators appreciate the most nuanced understanding of the craft.

best new art exhibits Fall 2021

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5. Onchi Kōshirō: Affection for Shapeless Things

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

October 16, 2021 – February 14, 2022

Onchi is an artist and advocate of Japan’s sōsaku hanga printmaking movement. Unlike the preceding ukiyo-e prints – which were designed, carved, and printed by three separate artists – the creative prints of this era were conceived of and executed by a single artist, such as Onchi. This allowed for maximum creative control. In addition to wood, Onchi incorporated found objects into his prints, such as wax paper and cardboard.  Because of the laborious nature of this process, Onchi produced few prints, making this exhibit even more special.

6. Picturing Motherhood Now

Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland

October 16, 2021 –  March 13, 2022

In what feels like a singular exhibit, the Cleveland Museum looks to a range of contemporary artists to create a new, feminist representation of motherhood, without stereotype. Featuring art from the last two decades – as well as a few earlier pieces, to help ground the narrative in history – the exhibit examines motherhood through the lens of gender, of race, and of immigration.

7. Clouds, Ice, and Bounty: The Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Collection of Seventeenth-Century Dutch and Flemish Paintings

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

October 17, 2021 – February 27, 2022

12 artists, 27 paintings. This exhibit unveils an impressive collection assembled over the last two decades, featuring some of the most prominent Dutch and Flemish artists of the 17th century. The show includes not only landscapes and seascapes, but also portraits and still lifes. When seen side by side, the paintings offer a greater window into the techniques used by these unique artists.

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8. Afro-Atlantic Histories

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

October 24, 2021 – January 23, 2022

This new and unprecedented exhibit explores the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade. It includes more than 130 documents and works of art – such as paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photographs – from 24 different countries, spread across five centuries, and split into six thematic sections.  You can see work by Melvin Edwards, Ibrahim Mahama, and Kara Walker, among others. The exhibit began in Brazil, and this is the beginning of its United States tour.

9. Jennifer Packer: The Eye is Not Satisfied with Seeing

The Whitney Museum, New York

October 30, 2021 – Spring 2022

Packer is known for her paintings and drawings, which are at once intimate and political. The Whitney’s new exhibit is the largest show of Packer’s work to date, and features more than thirty of her pieces, giving the viewers a sense of the full range of her artistic prowess.

10. Before Yesterday, We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

November 5, 2021

This new ongoing exhibit joins the Met’s collection of Period Rooms. Like all Period Rooms, it seeks to create a physical manifestation of a particular moment in time – and in this case, that time incorporates a simultaneous past, present and future, as inspired by the Afrofuturist belief that all three are permanently connected. The narrative of the room is based on an imagined future of the Seneca Villagea vibrant Black community in nineteenth century New York, destroyed by the city in order to make room for Central Park. Objects and sounds will be used to bring the room’s story to life, as will pieces from across the Met’s collection.

What are the 12 best new art exhibits to visit this Fall?

That’s our take on the best new exhibits at art museums and galleries in the U.S. to visit and see this fall 2021, including in New York and Washington DC. What’s at the top of your list, dear reader?

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

Abbie Martin Greenbaum grew up in New York City and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she drinks a lot of coffee and matches roommates together for a living. At Oberlin College, she studied English and Cinema, which are still two of her favorite things, along with dessert and musical theater. She believes in magic.

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