Spring Arts Preview: Top 10 Museum Exhibitions

If you think our snazzy Spring Arts Preview cover image—a Karl Lagerfeld–designed outfit for Chanel—is about a fashion show, you’re right, but it’s no runway show. In May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens what promises to be the most talked-about exhibition of the season, “PUNK: Chaos to Couture,” devoted to the styles associated with the punk movement. The Costume Institute’s annual show is one of the Met’s glitziest (the gala attracts the likes of Anna Wintour and Jessica Chastain) and best-attended (remember the lines for McQueen?). Contemporary art, like fashion, has a mind-boggling amount of hype behind it these days. From May 10 through May 13, Frieze New York will gather over 180 international galleries under a big top on Randall’s Island, bringing the art world out in droves. But we urge you to, from time to time, turn away from the glitz and glamour this season, especially when you’re at the Met. Running concurrently with “PUNK” is “Photography and the American Civil War” (April 2–­September 2), an exhibition that will show you the real story behind movies of the era, like the recent Lincoln and Django Unchained. Photography was young in the mid-19th century, and journalists were eager to document one of the bloodiest episodes in American history, one that resulted in over 700,000 deaths. To honor the 150th year of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Met has mined its collection for a number of important photographs from the period, ranging from wrenching corpse-strewn post-battle landscapes to medical studies of survivors to portraits of both Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth. You just might find yourself experiencing the shock of the old.

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