March Museums

Celebrating a Major Filmmaker, an Influential Painting, and Award-winning Theater

New York’s museums cover a great range of subjects related to art and culture, as this month’s three highlights clearly demonstrate. MoMI’s Martin Scorsese retrospective is a fascinating study of the director’s life and films; an NYPL show exploring award-winning Broadway and West End theater is similarly informative and entertaining; and a Met exhibition centered on a renowned circus-themed painting delves into a bygone fascination with a lowbrow form of entertainment.

Martin Scorsese at the Museum of the Moving Image
Martin Scorsese
Cinephiles should flock to the Museum of the Moving Image’s ambitious and comprehensive Martin Scorsese, the first major museum retrospective of the celebrated director’s work. This survey of Scorsese’s remarkable half century of filmmaking explores the auteur’s own life and films, as well as his love of cinema in general. Organized into nine major themes (Family, Brothers, Men and Women, Lonely Heroes, New York, Cinephile, Cinematography, Editing, and Music), the collection comprises production material such as story boards, posters, and publicity stills from Raging Bull and Goodfellas, among other films, plus various props and costumes, including the dress worn by Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

Furniture from the director’s childhood home and posters of his favorite films (The Red Shoes, I Vitelloni) are some of the personal objects on display. A show highlight is an interactive grid of Manhattan onto which Scorsese film locations are mapped. Screenings of his work, as well as classic movies restored under his supervision, are featured throughout the run of the show. (Through April 23) 


Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London
Curtain Up
The world’s two greatest theater districts are the focus of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts exhibition Curtain Up: Celebrating the Last 40 Years of Theatre in New York and London. In partnership with the Society of London Theatre and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the NYPL tells the story of London’s West End and New York’s Broadway, also acknowledging the coincidence of their anniversaries: 40 years of London’s Olivier Awards and 70 years of New York’s own Tonys®.

Curtain Up details the creation of award-winning productions with collections that specifically highlight the development of both theater districts since 1976. Visitors can admire costumes and masks from Disney’s The Lion King; Michael Crawford’s original mask from the London production of The Phantom of the Opera, shown alongside costumes from a recent show; gold top hats worn in the finale of the original A Chorus Line; and original set models for In the Heights, Arcadia and War Horse. Film clips from various productions are embedded throughout. (Through June 30)


Seurat’s Circus Sideshow
Seurat's Circus Sideshow
An 1888 painting that was one of the artist’s least admired works when it was initially shown, Seurat’s Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque) is the focus of a fascinating new show at the Met. In addition to the pointillist masterpiece itself— which has since become one of Seurat’s most celebrated and influential paintings—the exhibition includes more than 100 related works, all referencing the circus motif that was so alluring to artists of the day.

On display are crayon drawings by Seurat, plus prints, period posters, and illustrated journals shown alongside musical instruments and other materials that document the excitement of 19th-century seasonal fairs and traveling circuses. One major highlight is Fernand Pelez’s Grimaces and Misery (Les Saltimbanques), finished the same year as Parade de cirque and featuring life-size performers arranged on a 20-foot stage.