No bones about it: there’s going to be LOTS to see and do in 2018 at museums and cultural centers all across the country! Below are some of the most buzzed-about exhibitions and grand openings that you won’t want to miss—listed in chronological order for your travel-planning convenience. Some are all-new museums that have been years in the making; others are touring exhibits that will only be on display a short while. But all offer compelling content and immersive experiences that promise to expand and enrich the way we think about the world.
The Power of Poison (Touring) – Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis, IN
On exhibition now through April 22, 2018
This exhibit from the American Museum of Natural History takes a captivatingly theatrical approach to exploring the facts and folklore surrounding poison—in nature and human health as well as literature and myth. Through immersive dioramas, visitors encounter toxins and poisons of Colombia’s Choco Forest. Digital interactives and live presentations explore famous cases of poisonings and forensic detection. The exhibition also reveals how “poisons” are being used for good, including modern medical research into treatments for cancer and other diseases and conditions. Learn more here.
Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission (Touring) – St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis, MO
On exhibition April 14 – September 3, 2018
Only four science museums in the nation will receive this Smithsonian traveling exhibit. The St. Louis Science Center is slated to host it over the 49th anniversary of the lunar landing on July 20, 2018. The exhibition features more than 20 artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission, including astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s helmet and gloves as well as an emergency survival kit. The historic spacecraft’s actual command module Columbia is its centerpiece. Tour stops include Space Center Houston, St. Louis Science Center, Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, and the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Learn more here.
The Legacy Museum (Grand Opening) – Montgomery, AL
Opens April 26, 2018
The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration will open in April on the site of a former slave warehouse in Montgomery, Alabama, setting the stage for poignant place-based learning about the many permutations of racial subordination and injustice in America. The museum was developed by the Equal Justice Institute in partnership with experience design studio Local Projects, whose portfolio includes the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. Learn more here.
The Nordic Museum (Grand Opening) – Seattle, WA
Opens May 5, 2018
Opening in May in Seattle’s hip waterfront Ballard neighborhood is The Nordic Museum, a rebranded and expanded museum and cultural center of the Nordic Heritage Museum, currently housed in a 1907 school district building. The new 57,000 square foot facility will house exhibitions and community programs exploring Nordic culture. The striking building design includes a vertically striated zinc skin wrap on the exterior. Inside, the building’s white faceted walls will evoke a stylized fjord. Learn more here.
Antarctic Dinosaurs (New Exhibition) – The Field Museum, Chicago, IL
Opens June 15, 2018
Far from the icy underworld we know it as today, Antarctica of 200 million was a lush, verdant forest – one where dinosaurs thrived. This brand-new exhibition (which boasts never-before-seen fossils!) follows the Field Museum’s own scientists on expeditions to the Frozen Continent, where they work to uncover the remains of ancient giants and discover new information about geology and climate change through the ages. Learn more here.
The National Comedy Center (Grand Opening) – Jamestown, NY
Opens Fall 2018
Celebrating comedy in all its forms, the National Comedy Center will be the first non-profit, national-scale cultural institution devoted exclusively to, well, funny business! The $50 million center will feature more than 50 exhibits, including a Blue Room for mature audience only that explores social taboos. The center will also exhibit documents and artifacts from the archives of beloved late comedian George Carlin, which were acquired by donation in 2016. Learn more here.
…this list, of course, is just a small sampling—there are so many more! What museum(s) are you most excited to visit this year?