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10 museum must-sees

From Maya Lin’s ‘Mappings’ to ‘Being Muholi: Portraits as Resistance,’ our most-anticipated shows.

Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger, "Each/Other," 2020-21, as installed at the Denver Art Museum. Steel, wool, bandanas, and embroidery thread. Courtesy of the artists. (Artwork © Marie Watt and Cannupa Hanska Luger)© Denver Art Museum

MAYA LIN: MAPPINGS Lin, the architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is renowned for bringing an uncanny degree of humanism to her often spare and minimal designs. At Smith College, where Lin’s Neilson Library opened recently, an exhibition of her map-based works is slated for the end of January. It has sharp focus: Climate change, species extinction, and ecosystem devastation. Jan. 28-Aug. 7, Smith College Museum of Art, 20 Elm St., Northampton. 413-585-2760, smca.smith.edu

EACH/OTHER: MARIE WATT AND CANNUPA HANSKA LUGER Watt and Luger are two Indigenous artists whose work runs the gamut from sculpture to installation, performance to video, and across media including ceramic, wood, fabric, photography, and oil drums (to name a few). They nonetheless have a binding sensibility: collaboration and community. The 26 works in this exhibition will include a large-scale new work made in concert with people all over the world whom they asked to embroider messages on scraps of fabric that they built into an outsize patchwork coyote. Jan. 29-May 8, Peabody Essex Museum. 161 Essex St., Salem. 978-745-9500, pem.org


MARTIN PARR: TIME AND PLACE Parr, maybe best known for his pictures of British working-class holiday spots and the British holiday-makers who people them, treads an uncomfortable terrain that blurs lines between objectification, affection, and farce. He has been a towering figure in the field of street photography for decades, and this exhibition, with 135 pictures, is the first broad survey of his work in a US museum. Of special note are Parr’s pictures of Ireland over the past four decades, charting its rise from poor cousin to its British neighbor and adversary to economic powerhouse. Jan. 31-June 5, McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. 2101 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 617-552-8587, www.bc.edu/sites/artmuseum

BEING MUHOLI: PORTRAITS AS RESISTANCE The intense, often-harrowing black-and-white photo self-portraiture for which the South African artist Zanele Muholi is known at times seems to take in all of the bleak tensions of their homeland’s racially charged history at once. Muholi says they are not an artist but a “visual activist,” and their work bears that out. Their pictures frequently tease out a litany of stereotypes with the intention of deflating and reclaiming them at heart. “Portraits As Resistance” is an apt name for their longstanding practice and will feature entirely new creative departures, such as colorful painting and bronze sculpture. Feb. 10-May 8, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 25 Evans Way, Boston. 617-566-1401, www.gardnermuseum.org


Zanele Muholi, "Zazi II," 2019. © Zanele Muholi. (Courtesy of the artist, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York and Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town/Johannesburg)Courtesy of the artist

BARKLEY L. HENDRICKS: MY MECHANICAL SKETCHBOOK His graceful life-sized painted portraits may be the work for which he’s known, but Hendricks had a less-seen parallel current to his art-making that used photography in surprising and innovative ways. When Hendricks called it a “mechanical sketchbook,” he was barely exaggerating. This exhibition collects dozens of his photographs in concert with paintings and drawings that show an active, creative mind rarely at rest. It’s just one part of a Hendricks renaissance — the Brooklyn Museum is working on mounting a major career retrospective right now — that the artist, sadly, did not live to see. He died in 2017 at 72 just, it seemed, as his career was getting started. Feb. 10-July 24, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. 415 South St., Waltham. 781-736-3434, brandeis.edu/rose

NAPOLEON JONES-HENDERSON: I AM AS I AM — A MAN Jones-Henderson, a foundational member of the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA) collective, has been based in Roxbury since 1974; since then, he’s been a teacher, mentor, and pillar of community-based cultural initiatives. This survey of his broad-based oeuvre, spanning tapestry, mosaic, sculpture, and works on paper, takes in the artist’s lifelong project of shining light on the African diasporic experience, and the hard path to racial justice always with a mind to a hopeful future. Feb. 17-July 24, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. 25 Harbor Shore Drive. 617-478-3100, www.icaboston.org


US THEM WE: RACE ETHNICITY IDENTITY How any single museum exhibition can get its arms around a subject so vast, so fraught, is a question worth asking; but good on the Worcester Art Museum for stepping so boldly into an arena that’s increasingly become just the standard for any museum, anywhere. This show “will consider the ways that contemporary artists accentuate concepts like race and ethnicity through various visual strategies,” specifically text, juxtaposition, seriality, and pattern. Feb. 19-June 19, Worcester Art Museum. 55 Salisbury St., Worcester. 508-799-4406, www.worcesterart.org

MILTON AVERY An under-heralded American painter of the mid-20th century, Avery was overshadowed by the country’s obsession with the dominant narrative of Abstract Expressionism, many of whose key figures — Mark Rothko, anyone? — looked up to him as a mentor and an inspiration. Avery’s works, often reduced to simple form and filled with vibrant color, are a master class in composition, balance, and subtle subversion of traditional figure painting. This show, with 60 key works, organized by the Royal Academy of Art in London, is the first major survey in more than 30 years and represents a real homecoming, too: Avery grew up just outside Hartford and made his first, formative attempts at art making in the surrounding Connecticut landscape. March 5-June 5, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. 600 Main St., Hartford, Conn. 860-278-2670, www.thewadsworth.org


Joseph Mallord William Turner, "Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On)," 1840. Oil on canvas. Henry Lillie Pierce Fund/© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

TURNER’S MODERN WORLD Joseph Mallord William Turner — or J.M.W., to you — was less a British artist of the Romantic era than he was a fiery experimentalist whose audacious work blazed a path from serene Romanticism headlong into the turbulent realm of Modernist art. Any Turner exhibition is almost inevitably a thrill ride; this one, with more than 100 paintings and drawings centered on the artist’s pivotal role as a bridge between eras, promises to be more than most. March 27-July 10, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston. 465 Huntington Ave. 617-267-9300, www.mfa.org

A PLACE FOR ME: FIGURATIVE PAINTING NOW The obituary for figurative painting has been written so many times in the past 100 years, it’s tempting to consider any exhibition of it to be something of a seance. The truth is quite the opposite: Despite the decades-long shunning by art world cognoscenti of such millennia-old forms as portraiture and landscape painting, it never went away, and in the last 20 years in particular has gone through an ebullient renaissance. This show makes a case yet again that should hardly need to be made: that human hands pushing paint to portray human beings is as elemental to our species’ culture as walking and breathing. March 31-Sept. 5, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston. 25 Harbor Shore Drive. 617-478-3100, icaboston.org


Murray Whyte can be reached at murray.whyte@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheMurrayWhyte.