New York’s Must-See Cultural Events
Mark your calendar for these New York events that showcase the best art, dance, music, and theater on view in spring 2014.
New York City Ballet: During the 2013–14 season, the ballet company founded by choreographer George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein celebrates its 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center in grand style, with performances of 50 ballets. It’s been the NYCB’s home since the New York State Theater (now the David H. Koch Theater) opened in April 1964. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, set to Tchaikovsky’s wondrous score, returns November 29, 2013–January 4, 2014. The winter season (January 21–March 2, 2014) features a world premiere by young British choreographer Liam Scarlett as well as Balanchine’s full-length Jewels. Spring (April 29–June 8, 2014) showcases contemporary choreographers Peter Martins, Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon, plus a world-premiere collaboration from choreographer and NYCB soloist Justin Peck and singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens.
The Public Theater: The house that director and arts advocate Joseph Papp built continues as a place of innovation and creativity. In collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Miami’s GableStage, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney stages Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra, transporting it to the 18th-century Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue (February 18–March 23, 2014). The Public also hosts the New York premiere of the new musical A Second Chance, by Ted Shen (March 18–April 13, 2014; publictheater.org).
Brooklyn Academy of Music: England’s Glyndebourne Festival Opera brings its staging of Billy Budd, by Benjamin Britten, to the Brooklyn Academy of Music February 7–13, 2014, as part of a citywide centennial celebration marking the composer’s birth.
Broadway: A star-studded cast—Denzel Washington, Diahann Carroll, Anika Noni Rose—anchors the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun at the Barrymore Theatre, opening April 3, 2014 (raisinbroadway.com).
International Center of Photography: Founded in 1974 by Cornell Capa to honor the life and work of his brother Robert—a well-known photojournalist killed in Vietnam—ICP is one of the leading institutions devoted to the evolving medium of photographic art. In 2014, it presents “Capa in Color,” a show of never-before-seen color photographs taken by Capa late in his career (January 31–May 4, 2014; icp.org).
Rubin Museum of Art: The singular focus on the art of the Himalayas at the Rubin Museum inspires some of New York’s most imaginative programming, including spring 2014’s interactive exhibition on Tibetan medicine. The seventh annual Brainwave considers endurance, willpower, and the placebo effect through onstage conversations between scientists and individuals from all walks of life: kung-fu master, sports champion, poker player, firefighter, meditation teacher, and marathon runner.
Frieze New York: What has become the city’s most compelling art fair puts a local spin on the London original: Frieze New York occupies Randall’s Island in the East River and brings together more than 180 international and U.S. galleries under a spacious tent, whose design provides a luminous setting for the art, talks, and discussions (May 9–12, 2014, friezenewyork.com).
Metropolitan Museum of Art: Each spring, the Met’s Costume Institute mounts shows—Alexander McQueen; Prada/Schiaparelli—that have become some of the city’s most anticipated. In 2014, all eyes are on “Charles James: Beyond Fashion,” the inaugural exhibition of the renovated institute, which examines the Anglo-American couturier, whose legendary career encompassed three quarters of the 20th century (May 8–August 10, 2014).
TriBeCa and New York Film Festivals: Of many, two film festivals define New York City: the TriBeCa Film Festival, initiated in 2002, and the long-established New York Film Festival, produced by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Each spring, the TriBeCa lends focus to New York’s role as a filmmaking center (April 16–27, 2014; tribecafilm.com). The NYFF launches each fall’s cultural season and offers distinctive programming year round. The 2014 calendar includes a series devoted to French and Italian films, the latest screenings from new directors, and Dance on Camera (filmlinc.com).
Studio Museum in Harlem: Focused on artists of African American descent, the Studio Museum in Harlem presents “When Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South,” interpretations of the region through the work of several generations of artists (March 27–June 29, 2014).
New York Philharmonic: At Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center and venues throughout the city, the New York Philharmonic hosts the inaugural NY Phil Biennial, a festival of contemporary music featuring works by 50 composers from 12 countries—including the U.S premiere of Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven (nyphil.org).
Metropolitan Opera: Starry tenor Jonas Kaufmann sings the title role in Massenet’s Werther, based on Goethe’s romantic, tragic novel, in a new production, staged by Richard Eyre, at the Metropolitan Opera (February 18–March 15, 2014)—the season’s hot ticket.
Asia Society: This educational nonprofit—now with 11 branches worldwide—got its start in New York in 1956, with a permanent collection that includes statuary, ceramics, and paintings. In 2014, look for “Tales of Wonder: Indian Art from the Asia Society Museum Collection,” which considers the legends of Indian deities in painting and sculpture (February 4–May 4, 2014; asiasociety.org).
Whitney Biennial: This essential survey of global contemporary art at the Whitney covers multiple disciplines and, in 2014, showcases the work of 103 artists. It is organized by three guest curators: Stuart Comer, of the Museum of Modern Art; Anthony Elms, of Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art; and Michelle Grabner, of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (March 7–May 25, 2014).
Whitney Museum of American Art
Founded in 1930, the Whitney Museum of American Art has earned the distinction of being the first museum focusing on living American artists. The museum bears the name of sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a tireless advocate of emerging artists and the museum’s founder. The permanent collection focuses on 20th century art and its foundation is based on Whitney’s personal collection of over 600 works of art. The museum houses works by such famous artists as Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Thomas Hart Benton and Edward Hopper.
Rubin Museum of Art
The Rubin Museum of Art is a collection paintings, sculptures, and textiles from the Himalayas and surrounding regions. The mission of the museum is to curate a collection that raises the profile of Himalayan art, which has received relatively less attention than the art of many other cultures. The exhibits feature pieces that mostly date back to the 12th century and onward and are presented along with illuminating education materials to help patrons understand the different lenses through which the art can be viewed. New exhibitions, such as Modernist Art from India, are rotated in throughout the year.
New York City Ballet
Founded by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, the New York City Ballet is the largest dance organization in the country with roughly 90 dancers. The famed company makes its home inside the 2,544-seat David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center. Under the direction of Ballet Master in Chief Peter Martins, the company hosts a full season of performances from its active repertory of more than 150 works, including Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Now in its 128th season, the Metropolitan Opera is located inside New York’s Lincoln Center, where it hosts more than 200 opera performances a season. Founded in 1883, the Met has presented a number of U.S. premieres and 31 world premieres, including Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy and Tan Dun’s The First Emperor. Under the direction of James Levine, the Met showcases the best talent from around the world in pieces such as La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Macbeth, and Aida. Backstage tours are available during the Met's season.
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Simultaneously high art and rollicking good fun, the Brooklyn Academy of Music is a Broadway-beating theater space that draws boldfaced names—recently, Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, and John Turturro—to high-caliber productions. BAM comprises two stages: the 2,109-seat Howard Gilman Opera House (plus the four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas)—and, two blocks away, the 874-seat Harvey Theater, with its raw concrete walls and artfully rough-and-ready appearance. (Note that some padded, bench-style seats in the Harvey can be uncomfortable during lengthy performances.) BAM's programming is at its most avant-garde during the Next Wave Festival each fall. You'll never miss the curtain rise when you hit the high-ceilinged BAMcafé, an ideal choice for pre-theater drinks and dinners of crab cakes, strip steak, and Junior's cheesecake for dessert. (BAMcafé opens two hours before every performance at the Howard Gilman Opera House.)
Tip: Every Friday and Saturday night, the space hosts BAMcafé Live, which presents free music from local and international jazz, R&B, pop, and experimental performers.
Additional Location: Howard Gilman Opera House and BAM Rose Cinemas; 30 Lafayette Avenue at St. Felix Place, Brooklyn
Metropolitan Museum of Art
One of the world's great museums, this Gothic Revival labyrinth tries to be all things to all art lovers—and with its expansion over the past two decades it often succeeds. The museum's breadth makes it dauntingly huge; grab a map and decide to focus on one wing at a time.
Studio Museum in Harlem
Opened in 1968 in a rented loft at Fifth Avenue and 125th Street, the Studio Museum in Harlem has long been showcasing the works of artists of African descent. With its Artist-in-Residence program, the museum has become the place for rising talent, having graduated nearly 100 artists, including Chakaia Booker, David Hammons, Julie Mehretu, Wangechi Mutu, and Kehinde Wiley. In addition to rotating exhibitions, the museum houses a permanent collection of more than 1,700 works ranging from paintings to sculpture, and it also serves as custodian of an extensive archive of photographer James VanDerZee's work.