It’s vacation and summer vacation season, which means it’s also the time of year when museums across the country put on some of their best exhibits.
This year, museums focus on Moon landing and D-Day anniversaries, mummies, baseball, lesser-known works of art, Hollywood fashion, movie posters, everyone’s favorite cartoon mouse and more again.
Summer is a great excuse to travel or visit a museum in your own backyard. Here are the best exhibits to look out for.
“Journey to the Moon: How Glass Got Us There”
July 20 marks 50 years since Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. The Corning Museum of Glass is honoring this milestone with an exhibit on the important role glass played in bringing humans to the lunar surface.
Highlights include the fiberglass used to create their spacesuits and insulate the Apollo 11 capsule and Lunar Module. A demonstration using a Corning-designed window from the capsule illustrates how the glass had to withstand temperatures of 2,400°F when re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. And we can’t forget the glass used in television screens that allowed Americans to watch the historic moment.
“Mummies of the World”
The mummies came to downtown Phoenix this summer. The largest collection of mummies (and related artifacts) in history, in fact. The Arizona Science Center is home to 40 human and animal mummies from around the world – not just from Egypt, but other countries including Germany and Hungary.
“Most people think mummies come from Egypt and are shrouded, but mummification has happened culturally throughout history as well as naturally, in various climates and circumstances around the world,” says John Norman, president of IMG Exhibitions, who helped put together this exhibition.
Also, don’t miss what is billed as the first authentic replica of the 2,800-year-old Egyptian mummification process.
‘Silver Screen to Mainstream: American Fashion in the 1930s and ’40s’
As America went through the Great Depression and World War II, women’s fashion changed and women looked to Hollywood stars for inspiration rather than Parisian fashion houses.
“During the dark days of the Great Depression, Hollywood costume design inspired an enthusiastic response from American women, which spawned a new wave of American style,” said guest curator Virginia Heaven. Thirty elegant sets—many never seen before—from the Chicago History Museum‘s permanent collection are on display to illustrate this change in style.
“Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World”
The Walt Disney Family Museum celebrates nine decades of Mickey Mouse with an exhibit that traces the character from his early days in the 1920s to the present day.
It features over 400 objects, many of which have never been seen before, including sketches, artwork, merchandise, photographs and short films. Andreas Deja, considered the leading authority on Mickey’s story and animation, helped create this show.
Other highlights include Walt Disney’s life story and pop art featuring the famous mouse by Andy Warhol and several other top artists.
“In Memory of What I Can’t Say”
June 6 marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and museums have been looking for ways to pay homage to this pivotal moment in world history.
The National WWII Museum in New Orleans took the opportunity to mount its first art exhibit: a showcase of the work of French painter and D-Day veteran Guy de Montlaur. De Montlaur’s striking abstract work recalls his personal experience of the Normandy landings and the traumatic hand-to-hand combat (resulting in multiple injuries) that followed. After the war, he processed his experiences by painting colorful pieces that could evoke conflicting emotions in viewers.
Baseball and summer: a perfect combination. It’s also the perfect time to check out the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s new permanent exhibit on baseball cards. The interactive exhibit explores baseball cards as a hobby, a multi-million dollar industry and another enduring American pastime.
Highlights include rare cards (such as Babe Ruth’s 1916 Red Sox rookie card and a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card), error cards (such as one that accidentally featured the Bat Boy from a team instead of a player), an 1878 card and the opportunity for visitors to pose for their own baseball card photo. The Hall of Fame baseball card collection has over 140,000 cards.
“Monet: the last years”
This exhibit, billed as the first in more than two decades to cover the end of Claude Monet’s life and career, can be seen in Fort Worth this summer. From 1914 until his death in 1926, Monet experimented with a new style that moved away from his impressionism and turned to bolder, more abstract works.
“Our visitors will experience the radical nature of the painter’s late works,” says Eric M. Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum. The exhibit features 50 pieces, including 20 of the artist’s famous water lilies, a painting that measures 14 feet wide, and several works that have never been seen in the United States before.
‘Bronzes of the Vault’
Much like its namesake artist, the Dalí Museum likes to get creative with its subject matter. With three special exhibitions lined up, this summer is no exception. One highlight is the display of a series of rarely seen small-scale bronzes – the only sculptures Salvador Dalí ever created personally – made between 1969 and 1979.
The 20-room exhibit includes many familiar images from the Surrealist’s work, including the Christ of St. John of the Cross, Dragon-Swan-Elephant and the Cosmic Elephant.
The museum has also commissioned four full-scale replicas which can be seen in the garden. While you’re there, be sure to catch the augmented reality exhibit featuring several large-scale works and an exhibit on influencer Dalí Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes.
“Coming Soon: Movie Posters from the Dwight M. Cleveland Collection”
The next summer blockbuster? It’s at the Norton Museum of Art, which is putting together a major exhibition of classic movie posters. The private collection of real estate developer Dwight M. Cleveland includes over 3,000 movie posters – over 200 of the best examples have been selected for this exhibit.
A few highlights include “Casablanca”, “Singin’ in the Rain”, “North by Northwest”, and “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman”. It covers comedies, musicals, westerns, sci-fi thrillers, dramas and more from the early 1900s through the late 1980s.
“NC Wyeth: New Perspectives”
Brandywine River Art Museum, Chadds
When the name Wyeth comes to mind, many think of American realist Andrew Wyeth, but the Brandywine River Museum of Art in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania is shining the spotlight on his father’s work this summer.
The family patriarch, NC Wyeth, is considered one of the most important illustrators of the early 20th century, having worked in a variety of media including painting, illustration, murals and advertising.
Through 70 paintings and drawings on loan from major museums and private collections, the exhibition showcases Wyeth’s lesser-known landscapes, experimentations with Impressionism, and paintings created for book and magazine illustrations.
This is the first of the show’s three stops. While in the area, visitors should be sure to see NC Wyeth’s House and Studio, which is owned by the museum and open to the public.