The year seemed normal enough when it started, with the typical slate of major openings in January and February and a laundry list of more big things for the year ahead. But who could have imagined a year like this? Over many months of pandemic disruption, museums closed, re-opened, and some closed again this month, pitching in to stanch the rising second wave we were all warned about. Before and in-between, they gave us what we needed: Joy, relief, and reflective moments to consider a world seemingly transformed in a flash — but one that was really festering with discontent all along. In no particular order, my favorites of 2020 were:
Writing the Future: Basquiat and the Hip Hop Generation. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Tschabalala Self. Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
J.M.W. Turner: Watercolors from the Tate. Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, Conn.
Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System. Tufts University Art Galleries, Medford
Norman Rockwell: Murder in Mississippi. Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge
Blane de St. Croix: How to Move a Landscape. Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams
Reckoning with ‘The Incident:’ John Wilson’s Studies for a Lynching Mural. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
Adam Pendleton: Elements of Me. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston