10 Must-See Fall Art Exhibitions

Plan your fall travel now to see these blockbuster shows

Fall is the time when museums present their blockbuster exhibitions. Usually planned 5-10 years in advance, these shows represent the best curatorial talent as well as extraordinary loans of art and artifacts from public and private collections around the world. Accompanied by lectures, concerts and other events, fall exhibitions are a great opportunity to discover a new museum and a new city. Plan your fall 2016 travels now around these 10 major art exhibitions.

  • 01 of 10
    Degas: A New Vision MFA Houston
    Edgar Degas, Edmondo and Thérèse Morbilli, c. 1865, oil on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, gift of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd. MFA Houston

     October 16, 2016 — January 8, 2017

    Degas: A New Vision will be the major blockbuster museum exhibition of 2016. It is the most significant international survey in three decades of the work of Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917). While the famous French Impressionist artist is strongly associated with ballet dancers, Degas's complex and large body of work spans more decades than any of his contemporaries.

    The exhibition at the MFAH brings together 200 works from public and private collections and includes painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and photography. Curated with the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, Houston will be the only U.S venue for this exhibition. Since the last major show on Degas in 1988, the artist's career has been more fully assessed and offers visitors a chance to see him in a new light. Given the popularity of the Degas show in Australia, this exhibition is worthy of an art pilgrimage to Houston.


  • 02 of 10
    Knight's tomb, Met Cloisters
    Tomb of a Knight, Met Cloisters. Danielle Oteri

    September 26, 2016–January 8, 2017

    Four years ago visitors to the Met Cloisters may have noticed a conservator working quietly in the galleries on a tomb effigy of a 13th century knight. The careful cleaning of "Jean d'Alluye" was in preparation for a massive show about Jerusalem in the Middle Ages, opening this Fall at the The Met

    The exhibition looks at medieval Jerusalem not just as a city of three faiths, but home to multiple cultures, religions and languages. Given the always high caliber of the Met's shows about the Middle Ages, this is a tremendous opportunity for people to gain a new understanding of this ancient and always controversial city.

    The exhibition includes 200 works of art from 60 lenders worldwide. Nearly a quarter of the objects will come from Jerusalem including loans from religious communities, some of which have never before been shown to the general public.

  • 03 of 10
    Fall exhibitions at the Cleveland Art Museum
    Cleveland Art Museum. zenbikescience

    September 10-December 31, 2016

    Expect crowds at the The Cleveland Museum of Art this fall for an exhibition of Kara Walker's latest series of large-scale works on paper. After spending time in Rome, Walker's new work explores Christianity's complex history and how themes of myth and martyrdom interact with slavery and free will. (The title of the exhibition references Bernini's famous Baroque sculpture "The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa".)

    One of the most famous contemporary artists working today, Kara Walker (born 1969) has exhibited all over the world and has been the recipient of many prestigious art awards including the so-called "genius" grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Achievement Award. 



  • 04 of 10
    Mexican Modernism at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
    Paint the Revolution. Philadelphia Museum of Art

    October 25, 2016 - January 8, 2017

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art's strong Mexican art collection sets a fantastic stage for the upcoming exhibition that covers the period between the start of the Mexican Revolution to the aftermath of World War II. The exhibition includes masterworks by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, and Rufino Tamayo.

    Paint the Revolution looks at the cultural and political forces that shaped Modernism in Mexico, a movement which had international influence.

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art presents this landmark exhibition in partnership with the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. It is the most comprehensive exhibition of Mexican modernism to be shown in an American city in more than seven decades.



    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Giovanni di Paolo and The Art of Alchemy
    Giovanni di Paolo at the Getty Center. Public Domain

     October 11, 2016–February 12, 2017

    Though it had a profound influence on medieval and Renaissance culture, alchemy has been sidelined in art scholarship since World War II. Long shrouded in secrecy, this important exhibition at the Getty Center shows the impact alchemy had in the Middle Ages, Central Asia, the Islamic world and throughout Europe during the Enlightenment. 

    Concurrently an exhibition about Renaissance master Giovanni di Paolo makes the Getty one of the best museums to visit this fall.

  • 06 of 10
    Moholy-Nagy, Art Institute of Chicago
    Moholy-Nagy: Future Present. Art Institute of Chicago

    Devotees of design and the Bauhaus style should book their trip now to Chicago to see Future Present, the first comprehensive retrospective of Moholy-Nagy’s work in the United States in nearly 50 years. The exhibition brings together more than 300 of his multimedia works. 

    Moholy used recorded sound, photography, film, and synthetic plastics and believed that every citizen could be creative when using the materials that were available to them in their own time.

    Future Present exhibits works from 1920, when the artist moved to Germany until his death in Chicago in 1946. Special emphasis is given to his work in the United States and his teaching at the "Chicago Bauhaus." It's strongly recommended to buy tickets in advance.

  • 07 of 10
    Forty-Part Motet at Nelson-Atkins Museum
    Forty-Part Motet by Janet Cardiff. The Met

    November 19, 2016 - March 19, 2017

    This sound work by Janet Cardiff as been installed at many notable contemporary art institutions, but didn't become very famous until it was shown at the Met Cloisters. Since then it has become known as a work with the emotional power to leave people weeping tears of joy.

    I saw the first weeks of the installation in New York and watched just a handful of visitors sit quietly in the gallery for hours, listening to several rotations of the music. Some meditated, others cried. When the New York Times wrote about the emotional maelstrom happening around the Forty-Part Motet, visitors started waiting in long lines to experience it for themselves. This most recent installation of Cardiff's piece at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a very worthwhile opportunity to experience this sound installation for yourself. If you're anywhere near Kansas City, don't miss it.

  • 08 of 10
    William Merritt Chase at MFA Boston
    William Merritt Chase exhibition. MFA Boston

     October 9, 2016 – January 16, 2017

    An often overlooked Impressionist William Merritt Chase (1849–1916) was a leading painter in international art circles at the turn of the last century. An American master of oil and pastel, his images of women, landscapes and are among 80 of the painter’s finest works to be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    This major retrospective which will travel was co-organized by The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia (Venice), and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition at Baltimore Museum of Art
    Matisse/Diebenkorn. Baltimore Museum of Art

    October 23, 2016 — January 29, 2017 

    Though the show doesn't open until late October, the Baltimore Museum of Art encourages you to buy your tickets to Matisse/Diebenkorn as soon as they go on sale on September 1st. (Matisse has many raving fans.)

    This is the first major exhibition to show the  influence of French modernist Henri Matisse on the work of American artist Richard Diebenkorn. More than 90 paintings and drawings from museums and private collections reveal new views and ideas about these two artists who never met. After Baltimore this show will travel to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and not return to the east coast.

  • 10 of 10
    Fall exhibition explores Gustav Klimt's female portraits
    Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Neue Galerie

    September 22, 2016-January 16, 2017

    The portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt is the pride of the Neue Galerie in Manhattan, a museum dedicated to modern German and Austrian art. This portrait of Klimt's wealthy patron is often called New York's "Mona Lisa." The exhibition "Klimt and the Women of Vienna’s Golden Age, 1900–1918," will examine Klimt's portraits of women in the context of fin-de-siècle Vienna.

    Curated by Dr. Tobias G. Natter, author of numerous publications about Gustav Klimt and the art of Vienna 1900, the Neue Galerie is the only place this exhibition will be shown. It includes 12 paintings, 40 drawings, 40 works of decorative art, and vintage photographs of Klimt from public and private collections worldwide. Of course Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (1907) will be highlighted as well as shown side-by-side with Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (1912). 

    Other portraits in the exhibition reveal the full gamut of Klimt’s portrait style, from his early works when he was strongly influenced by Symbolism and the Pre-Raphaelite movement, to his so-called "golden style," for which he is most beloved and famous.

    Fashion is an important theme in the show and Shanghai-based artist and designer Han Feng has been commissioned to create three one-of-a-kind fashion ensembles inspired Emilie Flöge, a Viennese fashion designer who was also Klimt’s muse. 

    Visitors should also look forward to a unique historical reproduction (1951) of the famous Byzantine mosaic of Empress Theodora from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, which greatly inspired Klimt the first portrait of his patron Adele Bloch-Bauer.