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Six Must-See Spring Art Exhibitions in and Around Boston

Where to go and what to see for your spring design fix.


Nickolas Muray Collection of Modern Mexican Art, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin, © 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Photo courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

deCordova New England Biennial 2019

Local talent steals the show at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum’s New England Biennial, which this year showcases the work of 23 innovative artists based throughout the region. Check out paintings, videos, photos, fiber art, and ceramics inside the museum’s airy galleries, or stroll the always-breathtaking grounds for a peek at new site-specific commissions.

4/5–9/15, 51 Sandy Pond Rd., Lincoln, 781-259-8355, decordova.org.

“Frida Kahlo and Arte Popular”

You know Frida Kahlo for her iconic self-portraits, masterful use of color, and—of course—her trademark eyebrows. Now, discover the painter’s fascination with arte popular, Mexican folk art, at the MFA, which hosts its first-ever exhibition on the artist this spring. An exploration of her connection to the genre, the show features Kahlo’s bold canvases alongside the traditional ceramics, textiles, papier-mâché effigies, and other works that inspired them.

2/27–6/16, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300, mfa.org.

King’s Chapel Library / Photo courtesy of Boston Athenaeum

The King’s Chapel Library

Although this collection of historical books has called Boston home since 1698, when England’s William of Orange gifted it to King’s Chapel Church, the city’s oldest intact Colonial library has rarely seen the light of day—until now. This May, the Boston Athenaeum invites visitors to explore 200-plus 17th-century works, as well as a full-scale replica of the collection’s original Colonial Revival bookcase.

Opens May 2019, 101/2 Beacon St., Boston, 617-227-0270, bostonathenaeum.org.

“Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment”

Climate change impacts more than just sea levels: It also affects how we depict our planet. Peabody Essex Museum’s new exhibition follows 300 years of American art, from Albert Bierstadt landscapes to Cannupa Hanska Luger–designed shields used in Dakota Access Pipeline protests. In its arc, “Nature’s Nation” reminds us that portraying and protecting the environment go hand in hand.

2/2–5/5, 161 Essex St., Salem, 978-745-9500, pem.org.

Alexandra von Fuerst for Vogue Italia / Photo courtesy of Beacon Gallery

“Photographing the Female”

Founded by Danish artists in 2016, this important project—on view at Beacon Gallery—gives voice to the often overlooked stories of women around the globe. Expect to find snapshots and videos depicting the ever-evolving female experience, including photographer Lilia Li-Mi-Yan’s poignant series on body-shaming and objectification.

4/5–6/2, 524B Harrison Ave., Boston, 617-718-5600, beacongallery.com.

“The Skin Has Eyes: Animated Visions”

From rudimentary flipbooks to the mind-bending art of CGI, animation has come a long way over the past century or so. Celebrate the medium at Boston Center for the Arts, where projections, zoetropes, stop-motion films, and more—dreamed up by Bay State native Amanda Bonaiuto and other contemporary artists—are on display.

2/23–4/28, 551 Tremont St., Boston, 617-426-5000, bcaonline.org.