Travel

16 Art Museum Exhibits Worth Traveling for in 2023

From classic impressionism to creative takes on sculpture, there's something for everyone.

Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

Welcome to Thrillist 50, your guide to fun and adventure in 2023. Think of it as your comprehensive roadmap for checking out exciting events and new attractions coming over the next 12 months, going on bucket-list trips, reconnecting with yourself and your community, expanding your mind, and of course, experiencing the flavors we’re most excited about this year. There are so many reasons to live like there’s no tomorrow. Start here.Art museums aren’t stuffy institutions that leave you with lingering bad memories of grade-school field trips; they’re places to appreciate beauty in culture, past and present. Like always, this year’s exhibitions across the globe feature both new and exciting voices that reflect the changing nature of the art world, retrospectives of masters, collections of forgotten artists, and more. Below, you’ll find 16 art exhibits that we think are worth making it to in 2023.

Courtesy of Intuit
Courtesy of Intuit
Courtesy of Intuit

Tarik Echols: Open

December 9, 2022 – May 14, 2023
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (Chicago)
Tarik Echols builds architecture from letters, symbols, and words like “home” and “mother.” He layers repeated elements one atop one another until the signs lose their meaning and morph into multidimensional environments resembling tornadoes or amusement parks. The crayon-on-paper drawings depict fireworks of language, multiplying exponentially before melting into pure form. Echols has worked for more than 15 years at art programs run by Little City, a nonprofit supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Palatine, Illinois.

Courtesy of LACMA
Courtesy of LACMA
Courtesy of LACMA

Another World: The Transcendental Painting Group, 1938-1945

December 18, 2022 – June 19, 2023
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
In New Mexico, in the late 1930s, nine artists including Emil Bisttram, Robert Gribbroek, and Florence Miller formed the Transcendental Painting Group, a collective devoted to painting spiritual concepts, subconscious symbols, and imaginary realms. “They believe that painting can be a means of expressing abstract elements and that through a relationship of spirit-feeling and non-representative or non-objective forms can be created,” the University of New Mexico wrote in 1939. The pieces in this collection depict spirals, orbs of light, crepuscular caves, and slanted rectangular shapes, illustrating an eternal topography of the human imagination. The colors range from gentle pastels to kaleidoscopic explosions of color. Fans of “Desert Transcendentalist,” a show of mystical landscapes that appeared at the Whitney in 2020, by Agnes Pelton”-who was voted into the group in absentia-will enjoy seeing her collaborators and friends.

Courtesy of The Whitney
Courtesy of The Whitney
Courtesy of The Whitney

Every Ocean Hughes: Alive Side

January 14 – April 2
Whitney Museum (NYC)
Every Ocean Hughes’ “One Big Bag” is a performance film about a millennial death doula and her “corpse care” practices. On screen, the doula recites a monologue about how to tend to a body after death; cotton swabs, snacks, makeup palettes, and ritual bells dangle at various heights in the immersive exhibition space. With humor and confrontational physicality, Hughes invites viewers to consider their chosen approach to dying and reflect on the many inequities within our death-care system. Hughes’ upcoming exhibition at the Whitney features “One Big Bag,” as well as a new commission for the museum about a community with the ability to make crossings to and from the underworld. The artist continues her exploration of the end of life-and other thresholds-through a queer and urgent lens.

Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

María Berrío: The Children’s Crusade

February 16 – August 6
ICA Boston
Colombian-born, New York-based artist María Berrío collages torn pieces of Japanese paper with watercolor to create her large, textured paintings that exist in the intersection of poetry, politics, history, and fable. Her upcoming exhibition adapts the experiences of women and children at the border into a magical realist meditation on freedom and displacement. The show’s title – “The Children’s Crusade” – references the 1212 historical sensation in which, according to lore, children walked through France and Italy to convert Muslims to Christianity. Berrío merges the past with the present, the future, and a bit of make believe. In one painting, rows of girls in formal dresses tenderly cradle birds in their laps. In another, young boys ride goats and horses on a carousel, perhaps wishing their porcelain animals would break free and gallop away.

Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery
Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery
Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery

Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined

March 2 – June 4
New Museum (NYC)
Wangechi Mutu, a Kenyan-born multidisciplinary artist, uses mythic imagery and a collage mentality to address historical violence and imagine a more fertile future. More than 100 works of painting, collage, drawing, sculpture, and film made over the last quarter century will take over the entire New Museum. Expect lots of hybrid creatures at once glamorous and grotesque. “I’m interested in powerful images that strike chords embedded deep in the reservoirs of our unconscious,” Mutu told the Museum of Modern Art. On view will be Mutu’s 2003 diptych “Yo Mama,” a tribute collage to Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti, a feminist activist and Fela Kuti’s mother. Anikulapo-Kuti appears as an uncanny biblical Eve, cut and pasted from glamorous magazine clippings, stabbing a headless serpent with her stiletto heel.

Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and The Michael Richards Estate
Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and The Michael Richards Estate
Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and The Michael Richards Estate

Michael Richards: Are You Down?

March 4 – July 23
North Carolina Museum of Art
This will be Michael Richards’-a Costa Rican and Jamaican artist who died in the attacks on September 11, 2001-first museum retrospective. Richards was interested in aviation as a symbol of freedom, specifically as an escape from the violence and injustice facing Black Americans on the ground. His work frequently references the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African American pilots in United States military history to serve in World War II. In his 1999 sculpture “Tar Baby vs. St. Sebastian,” a life-sized bronze cast of an Airmen is pummeled by toy airplanes, alluding to the martyr Saint Sebastian.

Courtesy of American Folk Art Museum
Courtesy of American Folk Art Museum
Courtesy of American Folk Art Museum

What That Quilt Knows About Me

March 16 – May 28
American Folk Art Museum (NYC)
“What That Quilt Knows About Me” is an exhibit comprised of around 40 quilts made between the 19th and 21st centuries. Constructed from a variety of materials, ranging from yarn to paint to plastic bags, the quilts are united in their ability to store and reflect an understanding of the people and places that made them. Though some of the quilts are traditional, many expand the notion of what materials and techniques even constitute a quilt. “Whig Rose and Swag Border Quilt,” a 19th-century piece with flattened red roses arranged in a grid, was likely made by sisters Ellen and Margaret Morton, who were enslaved at a Kentucky Plantation known as “The Knob.” A handwritten label pinned to the quilt identifies its makers.

Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection
Courtesy of the Monroe Family Collection

George Voronovsky: Memoryscapes

March 24 – August 13
High Museum (Atlanta)
George Voronovsky was born in a small village in eastern Ukraine in 1903, and enjoyed a happy childhood before he was interned in a German concentration camp during World War II. After the war, he immigrated to the United States where he worked as a train car cleaner and upholsterer in Philadelphia. In the 1970s, Voronovsky retired in Miami Beach and promptly transformed the hotel room where he lived into an immersive altar to self expression. Voronovsky spent the final phase of his life creating “memory paintings” in the hopes of revisiting his idyllic youth. In these sunny depictions of Old World Ukraine, colorful fish, birds, boats, and humans coexist in a bustling and symbiotic dance. Though he had no intentions to exhibit or sell work, Voronovsky also crafted sculptures made from styrofoam ice chests, tin cans, washed up debris, and pizza boxes. He topped off his pieces with poetic titles like “My Brothers and Me, in the Forest Collecting Eggshells and Snakeskin to Have the Beauty of Nature II.”

Courtesy of MoMA PS1
Courtesy of MoMA PS1
Courtesy of MoMA PS1

Daniel Lind-Ramos

April 20 – September 4
MoMA PS1 (NYC)
Daniel Lind-Ramos is a Puerto Rican artist who builds totemic figures from found materials such as basketballs, gardening tools, and hand sanitizer. The sculptures, which resemble religious icons, rehash personal memories, Afro-Caribbean cultural traditions, geopolitical narratives-and assume an otherworldly presence of their own. “María, María,” a 5-foot multimedia sculpture featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial addressed the damage caused by Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, while toying with the promise of protection associated with the Virgin Mary. Made with coconuts and the trunk of a palm tree, the looming figure resembles a divine mother. She is dressed in royal blue robes, made from Federal Emergency Management Agency tarps.

Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation
Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation
Courtesy of The Hilma af Klint Foundation

Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian

April 20 – September 3
Tate Modern (London)
For centuries, French painter Piet Mondrian was the artist typically credited with inventing abstraction in the trajectory of Western art history. However, the Guggenheim’s groundbreaking Hilma af Klint exhibition threw this narrative into question, showcasing the Swedish artist’s overlooked abstract paintings created decades prior to Mondrian’s. An observational artist turned mystic, Klint identified as a medium visualizing unseen realms communicated to her by spirit guides or “High Masters.” She created towering and colorful canvases depicting snail shells, dancing flowers, coiling whorls, and a language of her own invention. Her work was so ahead of its time, it was never exhibited until 1986. This upcoming Tate Modern exhibition places Mondrian and Klint side-by-side, exploring the distinct ways the artists employed abstraction to better understand nature, spirit, and life.

Courtesy of the International Institute for Restorative Practices
Courtesy of the International Institute for Restorative Practices
Courtesy of the International Institute for Restorative Practices

Si Lewen: The Parade

April 21 – September 3
Menil Collection (Houston)
In 1957, Polish-born artist Si Lewen published “The Parade,” a wordless black-and-white graphic novel that examines the devastating, sometimes seductive, and all too predictable cycles of war. Lewen-a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany-chronicles the celebratory aftermath of World War I and moves through the rise of Hitler, the terrors of World War II, and the celebrations after it ends. The exhibition includes the original drawings that comprise this groundbreaking and obscure book alongside additional sketches made during its preparation. In the shadowy, graphite drawings, human figures blur into geometric patterns, mirroring the way people become embroiled in the rituals of war. At one point, children wearing paper hats are play-fighting, but their make-believe weapons are replaced with real ones, and the cycle begins anew.

Courtesy of Institute of American Indian Arts / Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Collection
Courtesy of Institute of American Indian Arts / Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Collection
Courtesy of Institute of American Indian Arts / Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Collection

Action/Abstraction Redefined: Modern Native Art, 1940s–1970s

June 23 – September 3
St. Louis Museum of Art
In 2008, the Saint Louis Art Museum presented “Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940–1976,” a glimpse into the post-World War II art movement that eschewed representation in favor of experimentation. Now, 15 years later, the museum expands upon the exhibition with a focus on the Native American artists who contributed to the tradition. “Action/Abstraction Redefined” features around 90 works of modern and contemporary Native art from artists including Fritz Scholder, Lloyd Kiva New, and Linda Lomahaftewa-a Hopi-Choctaw artist based in New Mexico whose vibrant paintings zoom in on plant stalks, rising suns, and spirals until they become landscapes unto themselves. The works buck stereotypes of what Native Art can be, often combining traditional styles with mainstream, modern trends. The result tears the Abstract Expressionist movement open at the seams, illuminating the blind spots of categorization and art-historical memory.

Courtesy of the Ontario Arts Council
Courtesy of the Ontario Arts Council
Courtesy of the Ontario Arts Council

Yu Ji: A Guest, A Host, A Ghost

June 23 – October 22
Orange County Museum of Art
In Chinese artist Yu Ji’s “Flesh in Stone” series, parts of the human body are cast in concrete, exhibited as bits and pieces familiar yet anonymous. Plump cheeks and bent knees morph from human body parts to components of a built environment, highlighting the interrelatedness of people and the spaces they occupy. Her upcoming exhibition will also feature a new piece made in response to the curved architecture of the Orange County Museum of Art’s mezzanine, further exploring the possibilities that emerge when the distinctions between humans and their surroundings blur.

Courtesy of DACS/VEGAP
Courtesy of DACS/VEGAP
Courtesy of DACS/VEGAP

Remedios Varo: Science Fictions

July 29 – November 27
Art Institute of Chicago
Remedios Varo is a Mexican Surrealist artist who famously declared “the dream world and the real world are the same.” Varo, who was born in Spain, learned mechanical and observational drawing from her father, a hydraulic engineer. In the 1930s, she relocated to Paris where she soaked up Surrealist and modernist ideas. A decade later, Varo fled Fascism and emigrated to Mexico, where she became close friends with Leonora Carrington. In Varo’s elaborate and fantastical paintings, solitary and otherworldly female characters wear robes of ocean waves, prophesize symbols in crystal chalices, and lock eyes with their feline companions. Her sharp and controlled style contrasts with her phantasmagoric content, which spans astrology, zoology, domesticity, religion, cosmogony, botany, and alchemy.

Courtesy of Neue Pinakothek München
Courtesy of Neue Pinakothek München
Courtesy of Neue Pinakothek München

Degas and the Laundress

October 18, 2023 – January 14, 2024
Cleveland Museum of Art
Ballerinas, exit stage right. An upcoming exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art, subtitled Women, Work, and Impressionism in Late 19th-Century Paris, will feature 30 Degas works featuring laundresses, united for the very first time. The laundress, responsible for washing, ironing, and carrying clothing, was typically overworked, overlooked, and underpaid; she often financially supported herself through sex work on the side. Degas’ works on the subject place strenuous, domestic later center stage, exploring gender and class as expressed through the laundresses’ toiling bodies. The show will also feature work by Degas’ contemporaries, including Berthe Morisot and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, along with other cultural artifacts featuring the laundress.

Courtesy of Aurie Ramirez
Courtesy of Aurie Ramirez
Courtesy of Aurie Ramirez

Aurie Ramirez: Goth Dumpling

October 26 – December 3
Summertime (NYC)
Aurie Ramirez is an artist who has worked since the early 1980s out of Creative Growth, a studio supporting artists with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities in Oakland, California. Her delicate watercolors depict a kinky fairy-tale world featuring harlequin jesters, sentient clouds, goth centaurs, flying pizza slices, and candy colored lingerie. Ramirez-a superfan of the band KISS and the Addams Family-combines punk rock and happily ever in hallucinatory visions that feel ripped from a NSFW storybook. Her paintings are not just visual, but musical, delicious, erotic, and full of joy.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Priscilla Frank is a contributor to Thrillist.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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