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After more than a year of lockdown, the world is slowly opening up again, which means many of the Big Apple’s top museums are welcoming guests back with open arms and riveting programming. This summer, a number of New York’s staple art houses will be exhibiting creations nearly as big as the city itself. From the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit to The Friends Experience, check out the seven art shows in NYC you won’t want to miss this year—whether you’re stopping by for a mini-vacay or you’re a bonafide New Yawker.

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1. Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit (June 10 – September 6)

Van Gogh’s A Starry Night has been on display for years at the MoMA. And while you can always cruise through and check out the painting on display, this exhibit is showcasing a variety of the famed painter’s work in a different way. Created by Italian digital artist, Massimiliano Siccardi, Immersive Van Gogh uses 60,600 frames of video, 90,000,000 pixels, and over 500,000 cubic feet of projections to create a dynamic array of Van Gogh’s paintings. (Yeah, that’s…a lot.) To add to the allure of the experience, the super-secret location of the venue won’t be announced until closer to the open date. Tickets for this exciting event are $40 off-peak and $50 during peak hours.

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2. Kusama: Cosmic Nature (April 10 – October 31)

The New York Botanical Garden will be home to the Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama’s latest creations in Kusama: Cosmic Nature. Works included are Narcissus Garden (1966/2021), Ascension of Polka Dots on the Trees (2002/2021), Pumpkins Screaming About Love Beyond Infinity (2017) as well as other works drawing back to her teens. Tickets (available for purchase through June 30) are $35 for adults, $32 for seniors and students and $15 for children. Note: NYBG will have limited-time entry so only a certain number of visitors will be admitted every hour due to COVID-19.

3. The Friends Experience (Ongoing)

Oh. My. God. Could this exhibit BE any more exciting? If you’ve ever wanted to sit on that orange sofa in Central Perk or get a sense of what an apothecary table from the days of yore looks like, you’re in luck because The Friends Experience is back in town. The exhibit, which first took the city by storm back in 2019, has now returned and will remain open for the foreseeable future. You’ll be able to tour the Vegas chapel where Ross and Rachel got married, reenact that famous ‘Pivot!’ scene and, as an added bonus, pick up some coffee and pastries with your best buds at a fully-functioning Central Perk café. Tickets are $45 off-peak and $52.50 during peak hours.

4. The Nature of Color (March 9, 2020 – August 8, 2021)

Located in the LeFrak Family Gallery on the fourth floor of the American Museum of Natural History, The Nature of Color explores how color enhances our experiences on planet earth. The exhibit has four components—Feeling Color, Living Color, The Meaning of Color and Making Color—which look at how color affects how we feel, how we interpret things and how we move in the world. Spoiler alert: After a walk through this fascinating exhibit, you’ll never look at your favorite blue jeans the same way again. Tickets are $28 for adults, $22.50 for seniors and students and $16.50 for children. (Note: Some interactive parts of the exhibit will be disabled for health and safety reasons.)

5. KAWS: WHAT PARTY (February 26 – September 5)

Brooklyn-born artist KAWS—whose given name is Brian Donnelly—is coming back to his hometown with this larger-than-life exhibit housed at the Brooklyn Museum. WHAT PARTY features a wide range of the famed artist’s works, including rarely seen graffiti drawings and notebooks, paintings and sculptures, smaller collectibles, furniture and of course, his popular Companion figures. Tickets are $25 for adults, $16.50 for seniors and students, and $10 for children.

6. Geometric Properties: An Immersive Audio-Visual Journey Through Fractal Dimensions (March 1 – September 6)

Created by visual and fractal artist Julius Horsthuis, Geometric Properties is a digital installation that combines mathematics, nature and architecture for an awe-inspiring experience. Located at Artechouse, the installation is a look at our recent past, as well as Horsthuis’ ideal future—which is created with the belief that the intersection of nature and math is our source of inspiration. Want to impress your smartypants friends? This is the exhibit to take ‘em to. Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for students and seniors and $17 for children.

7. The Obama Portraits Tour (August 27 – October 24)

Coming in towards the end of the summer is The Obama Portraits Tour which touches down at the Brooklyn Museum as part of a five-city national tour. The exhibit features a portrait of Barack Obama painted by Kehinde Wiley and one of Michelle Obama painted by Amy Sherald. These two striking portraits were initially unveiled at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., back in 2018. The Obama Portraits Tour features an illustrated book published by National Portrait Gallery and Princeton University Press. Tickets are not yet available for sale.

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