The Ultimate Guide to this Summer's Geekiest Art and Science Exhibits

Summer is the season for conventions and blockbuster movies, a time to look forward to great new TV and innovative comics. It's also a great time to pop your head into a gallery or museum and see the latest and greatest in art, history, design—and how science relates to them all. Here are some of the geeky exhibits we're looking forward to in the coming months.


Which art and science exhibits are you looking forward to this summer? Recommend your favorites in the comments.


Currently Open

Mondo Gallery
4115 Guadalupe St. Austin TX 78751
Mike Mitchell Solo Show
On display through May 25th.

Pop culture portraits by Mike Mitchell.


GALLERY 1988: West
7308 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
The Official Bad Robot Art Experience
On display through May 18th.

An exhibit of artwork inspired by J.J. Abrams.

Bottleneck Art Gallery
60 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY 11249
When The Lights Go Out: Presented In Black Light
On display through May 1st.

An exhibit of glow-in-the-dark pop culture posters. These posters reveal hidden meanings when the lights go out.


Ltd. Art Gallery

307 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122
ICONS and INFLUENCES: a show by Justin Hillgrove and Mike Capp
On display through April 28th.

Over 30 new pieces from the minds of Justin Hillgrove and Mike Capp, featuring their favorite mashups of pop/cult icons!


2147 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
It's the shizNICK
On display through May 5th.

NICKELODEON has had a lasting cultural influence, far deeper than any other cable channel. So join us for "It's the shizNICK, where OVER 60 ARTISTS pay homage to the good ol' days of the network that ruled our youth.


Peabody Fine Art
603 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, CA
Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!
On display through May 12th, then headed to Fingerhut Gallery of Laguna Beach May 17 - June 2, Clayton Lane Fine Art in Denver June 20 - July 14, Legends Fine Art Gallery in San Diego July 19 - Aug. 4, Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego Aug. 9 - Aug. 25, Petri's Fine Arts in Sausalito, CA, Aug. 30 - Sept. 15, Art Leaders Gallery in Detroit Sept. 20 - Oct. 6, Jean Stephen Gallery in Minneapolis Oct. 11 - Oct. 27, P&C Fine Art Galleries in Washington, DC, Nov. 1 - Nov. 17, 2013, and Marcus Ashley Gallery in South Lake Tahoe, CA, Dec. 13 - Dec. 29.

Exhibit of a collection of Dr. Seuss’s more than 500 hats, plus artwork that references the collection. In honor of the 75th anniversary of Seuss’s “The 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins”


UCR Sweeney Art Gallery
3834 Main Street Riverside, CA 92501
Free Enterprise: The Art of Citizen Space Exploration
On display through May 18th.

Free Enterprise: The Art of Citizen Space Exploration is the first contemporary art exhibition in the U.S. to present an international array of artists and organizations who are exploring the potential democratization of space exploration and the intersection between artistic production and civilian space travel. The possibility of fulfilling the human dream to fly into space has been encouraged by a major political and cultural shift away from state-sponsored space activities—which are controlled by agencies such as NASA in the USA, JAXA in Japan and RKA in Russia—towards a private enterprise model.


The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Drawn to Dinosaurs: Hadrosaurus foulkii
On display through June 9th.

The Academy of Natural Sciences was the first in the world to create a mounted dinosaur skeleton for display, and to this day the Academy is known as “the dinosaur museum.” Drawn to Dinosaurs: Hadrosaurus foulkii is an intimate exhibit that reveals the science and art of visualizing a living animal based on fragmentary fossils. The centerpiece is a full cast of the plant-eating duckbill dinosaur Hadrosaurus foulkii, discovered in 1858 in Haddonfield, N.J., by an Academy member and later reconstructed by the artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins based on Academy research.


Cleveland Museum of Art
11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, OH 44130
American Vesuvius: The Aftermath of Mount St. Helens by Frank Gohlke and Emmet Gowin
On display through June 2nd.

In 1980 the first significant volcanic eruption in the continental United States since 1915 occurred on Mount St. Helens in Washington State. The force of the explosion was cataclysmic: much of the north face of the mountain slid away and entire forests were flattened. This exhibition brings together important series by two photographers who, working independently, took to the air to reveal nature’s terrifying transformation of the landscape. Emmet Gowin’s images, shot between 1980 and 1984, were his first experience with aerial photography and altered his approach to the landscape. He went on to work extensively with aerial views. Frank Gohlke returned to the region numerous times between 1981 and 1990. His photographs, taken both on the ground and from the air, testify to the volcano’s destructive power but also the stirrings of the land’s rebirth as the years passed.


American Association for the Advancement of Science Art Gallery
1200 New York Avenue, Washington, D.C. 20005
Planetfall: The Space Imagery of Michael Benson
On display through June 28th.

In the span of a single lifetime, a momentous transformation in human consciousness has quietly taken hold: We are beginning to think of our place in the universe not as Earth but as the Solar System. We owe this insight in part to the photographic output of a small squadron of interplanetary spacecraft that is gradually opening our minds to the visual splendor and variety of other worlds. Each of these far-flung machines is following the traditions blazed by the great Earthbound explorers, but when its destination comes into view, we can no longer call that dramatic moment "landfall." Hence "planetfall"- the moment of arrival at other worlds.

All images processed by Michael Benson (Kinetikon Pictures) from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) raw or calibrated image data.


Chicago Field Museum
1400 S Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60605
Creatures of Light: Nature's Bioluminescence
On display through September 8th, 2014.

Delve into the mysterious world of bioluminescence and revel in the beauty of this remarkable natural phenomenon in Creatures of Light. Come discover the thousands of living organisms that blink, glow, flash, and flicker—from fireflies and fishes to glowworms and mushrooms—and immerse yourself in their magical world of “living light,” only at The Field Museum.


The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street, NewYork, NY 10019
Applied Design
On display through January 31st, 2014.

There are still people who think that design is just about making things, people, and places pretty. In truth, design has spread to almost every facet of human activity, from science and education to politics and policymaking, for a simple reason: one of design’s most fundamental tasks is to help people respond to change. A designer today can choose to focus on interactions, interfaces, the Internet, visualizations, socially minded infrastructures and products, 5-D spaces, bioengineering, sustainability, video games, critical scenarios, and yes, even furniture. Several outstanding examples of this vitality and diversity are presented in this installation, ranging from a mine detonator by young Afghani designer Massoud Hassani to a vessel made by transforming desert sand into glass using only the energy of the sun. Also on display are 14 videogames—including Pac-Man, The Sims, and Katamari Damacy—that constitute the beginning of a new branch of MoMA’s collection.


National Gallery of Art
6th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20565
Faking It: Manipulated Photography before Photoshop
On display through May 5th, then off to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston from June 2–August 25, 2013.

In the first major exhibition devoted to the history of manipulated photographs before the digital age, some 200 works will demonstrate that today's digitally altered photographs are part of a tradition that extends back to the beginning of photography. Featuring visually captivating photographs, the exhibition will trace photographic manipulation from the 1840s through the 1980s and show that photography is—and always has been—a medium of fabricated truths and artful lies.


EMP Museum
325 5th Avenue N Seattle, WA 98109
Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic

From The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz and The Princess Bride to Harry Potter and Snow White and the Huntsman, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic invites audiences on a fantastical journey to unearth the inspiration behind this genre’s most magnificent creations.

Revel in hands-on installations that include world building and mapmaking, and legendary pop culture artifacts. See iconic costumes from TV and the silver screen including The Wizard of Oz,Xena: Warrior Princess, Labyrinth, and The Princess Bride; pet a dragon designed by Seattle Opera; sit atop the Iron Throne from HBO's Game of Thrones; and view original hand-edited manuscript pages from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


[Recommended by I Love Big TDs]

Museum of Science and Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637
Animal Inside Out
On display through September 2nd.

This exhibit, from anatomist Dr. Gunther von Hagens—creator of the trailblazing Body Worlds exhibitions—showcases amazing animal specimens preserved through the process of plastination, which replaces the body's fluids with plastics to incredibly detailed effect.

From goats to giraffes and octopuses to ostriches, you'll see the inner workings of some of the world's most impressive animals and better understand the evolution of animals and the natural world. Highlights of ANIMAL INSIDE OUT include peering up at a giraffe, the rare chance to see a giant squid and its huge eyes made for the dark ocean depths, and peeking inside a rabbit’s brain.


The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Overdrive: L.A. Constructs the Future, 1940–1990
On display through July 21st.

This groundbreaking exhibition provides an engaging view of the region's diverse urban landscape, including its ambitious freeway network, sleek corporate towers, whimsical coffee shops, popular shopping malls, refined steel-and-glass residences, and eclectic cultural institutions. Drawings, photographs, models, films, animations, oral histories, and ephemera illustrate the complex dimensions of L.A.'s rich and often underappreciated built environment, revealing this metropolis's global impact.


Tate Modern
Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Lichtenstein: A Retrospective
On display through May 27th.

Lichtenstein is renowned for his works based on comic strips and advertising imagery, coloured with his signature hand-painted Benday dots. The exhibition showcases such key paintings as Look Mickey 1961 lent from the National Gallery Art, Washington and his monumental Artist’s Studio series of 1973–4. Other noteworthy highlights include Whaam! 1963 – a signature work in Tate’s collection – and Drowning Girl 1963 on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

The artist’s rich and expansive practice is represented by a wide range of materials, including paintings on Rowlux and steel, as well sculptures in ceramic and brass and a selection of previously unseen drawings, collages and works on paper.


Science Museum
Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD
Codebreaker – Alan Turing's life and legacy
On display through June 30th.

Codebreaker is an exhibition developed by the Science Museum to celebrate the centenary of the birth of this pioneering British figure.

Alan Turing is most widely known for his critical involvement in the codebreaking at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. But Alan Turing was not just a codebreaker.

This British mathematician was also a philosopher and computing pioneer who grappled with the fundamental problems of life itself. His ideas have helped shape the modern world, including early computer programming and even the seeds of artificial intelligence. This exhibition tells the story of Turing and his most important ideas.

At the heart of the exhibition is the Pilot ACE computer, built to Turing’s ground-breaking design. It is the most significant surviving Turing artefact in existence.

Alongside this remarkable machine is a sequence of exhibits showcasing Turing’s breadth of talent. Together with interactive exhibits, personal recollections and a wealth of historic imagery, the exhibition offers an absorbing retrospective view of one of Britain’s greatest twentieth-century thinkers.


Ontario Science Centre
770 Don Mills Rd, Toronto, ON M3C 1T3
Game On 2.0
On display through September 2.

From Pong to Guitar Hero; the Ontario Science Centre will host Game On 2.0 with more than 150 playable games from across the history of the medium - including pinball games - as well as rarely-seen consoles, controllers and collectables.

The world’s largest celebration of video games making its first Canadian appearance, Game On 2.0features game design, development, and production including multiplayer games, handheld devices, original concept and character art, and the history’s most influential arcade machines. Visitors will experience more than 60 years of video game entertainment and technology; from the very first commercial coin-operated game to the latest in virtual reality and 3D gaming.


[Recommended by Ivriniel]

Opening in May

Gallery 1988: East
7021 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Kiersten Essenpreis and Shannon Bonatakis
May 3, 2013 - May 25, 2013

Featuring new work by Kiersten Essenpreis and Shannon Bonatakis.


Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main St, Alhambra CA 91801
A Saga in the Stars: A Tribute to a Galaxy Far, Far Away
May 4, 2013 - May 26, 2013
Opening Reception / May 4, 7:00PM - 11:00PM

The Force is strong with Nucleus as we present one of our biggest tribute exhibitions yet in honor of one of the largest franchises in entertainment history. Star Wars first took the world by storm in 1977 with its modern special effects and spellbinding costumes and set designs. More than 3 decades later, the saga remains close to the hearts of Star Wars devotees, while captivating an entirely new generation of fans.

Nucleus welcomes a diverse group of talent to celebrate their favorite Star Wars characters and moments. Join us as our gallery is transformed into a galaxy far, far away with a collection of original works inspired by this saga in the stars.


Ltd. Art Gallery
307 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122
TENTACLES! an Art Show Curated by Bonnie Burton
Opening Reception Saturday May 4th @ 7pm; on display until June 1st.

Over 40 artists are brought together by author and geek girl extraordinaire Bonnie Burton to pay tribute to those slimy squiggly things, TENTACLES.


2062 Sawtelle Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90025
Strange Symbiosis: Four Person Group Exhibition featuring Scott Tolleson, Leecifer, J*Ryu and Aaron Brown
May 4th – May 22, 2013

The world of indie toys and figures have crested and the artists involved are evolving into their own as sculptors, painters, and illustrators while they still do custom figures from time to time. The four involved will demonstrate their development and evolution as fine artists.


Cartoon Art Museum
655 Mission St. San Francisco, CA 94105
SUPERMAN: A 75th Anniversary Celebration
May 11 – September 8, 2013

The Cartoon Art Museum explores the rich history of Siegel and Shuster’s creation through original artwork by such notable talents as Golden Age Superman artists Fred Ray, Wayne Boring; Curt Swan, often cited as the character’s definitive artist; the legendary Neal Adams; John Byrne and Jerry Ordway, who revitalized Superman in the 1980s; the artists responsible for the widely-publicized “Death of Superman” storyline in the early 1990s, Jon Bogdanove, Brett Breeding, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Dennis Janke, Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, and many others. Vintage movie posters, toys, and props will also be included in this historic display.


The Cloisters
Fort Tryon Park, 99 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York
Search for the Unicorn: An Exhibition in Honor of The Cloisters 75th Anniversary
May 15–August 18, 2013

Given by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in time for the opening of The Cloisters in 1938, the Unicorn Tapestries are its best-known masterpieces; yet, seventy-five years later, their history and meaning remain elusive. They have been seen both as complicated metaphors for Christ and as emblems of matrimony, and they are beloved as quaint indications of medieval notions about the natural world. This exhibition of some forty works of art drawn from the collections of the Metropolitan, sister institutions, and private collections will invite audiences to see the Unicorn Tapestries anew, as the finest expression of a subject widely treated across cultures, and in both European art and science, from the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance.


Shopping JK Iguatemi
Av. Presidente Juscelina Kubitschek, 2041, Vila Olimpia, São Paulo-SP, Brasil
Game of Thrones Exhibition
On display through April 30th, then off to Posthoornkerk, Amersterdam on May 18th - May 27th, and Andrew's Gallery, Titanic Belfast on June 8th - June 17th.

'Game of Thrones' will come alive for fans in an immersive, not-to-be-missed touring exhibition that will transport viewers into the breathtaking and enchanted world of Westeros. The traveling exhibit, the first of its kind by HBO, will stop in five international cities - Toronto, New York City, Sao Paolo, Amsterdam and Belfast. Presented by HBO and international partners, the exhibition is free to the public and focuses on key characters from five of the noble houses: Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon and Greyjoy. It will showcase a trove of more than 70 original artifacts from Seasons 1 and 2, plus select pieces from this year's new season.


Opening in June


Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main St, Alhambra CA 91801
Capture Creatures by Becky Dreistadt
June 1, 2013 - June 23, 2013
Opening Reception / Jun 1, 7:00PM - 10:00PM

Nucleus is very pleased to present a prolific project by one of our favorite artists, Becky Dreistadt. Capture Creatures is a year-long showcase of 151 creatures hand-painted by the artist, accompanied with imaginative stories by her partner Frank Gibson. Raised on a steady diet of cartoons and comics, Japanese and otherwise, Dreistadt has always dreamt of creating her own band of unique animals.


Ukiyoe Heroes 2 with Jed Henry
June 1, 2013 - June 24, 2013
Opening Reception / Jun 1, 7:00PM - 10:00PM

Artist Jed Henry returns to the gallery in a solo exhibition with a new series of Ukiyoe Heroes, the classic game inspired Japanese woodblock illustrations.


Yesterday's Tomorrow
June 29, 2013 - July 21, 2013
Opening Reception / Jun 29, 7:00PM - 10:00PM

In the 1950s, World War II had come to a close with life back home racing along at a skyrocketing pace. Industry was booming and new technology was being introduced. Innovative minds soon envisioned the future with flying cars, ray guns, full course meals served in a pill, and the ability to talk through television sets! With the benefit of today's hindsight, it is charming to see how differently technology has evolved, yet in some cases, the predictions of yesteryear have become eerily true.

Nucleus has carefully selected a group of talent recapturing the brimming optimism and limitless imagination of years past. The exhibit, Yesterday's Tomorrow, features original works in a variety of mediums celebrating the past while looking towards the future.


National Museum of Natural History
10th Street and Constitution Ave., NW in Washington, D.C. 20560
2012 Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards
Opens Jun 7th, 2013

Celebrate nature through the art of photography that brings wildlife up close and personal! More than 20,000 images from photographers around the globe were judged in the annual competition to select these stunning portraits of animals, plants, ocean life, and landscapes. The collection of 48 award-winning, large-format prints combines art with science and technology to take you on a photographic journey from the wild to the walls of the Smithsonian.


Opening in July

Whitechapel Gallery
77-82 Whitechapel High St, E1 7QX
The Spirit of Utopia
4 July – 5 September 2013

A group show exploring the role of art in imagining the future. With a focus on social organisation, alternative economies and the environment, the exhibition presents artists who act as agents of change in the world. Including new commissions and recent artistic developments, the Gallery presents work by artists, architects and designers including Yto Barrada, Peter Liversidge and Pedro Reyes and collectives Time/Bank and Wayward Plants.


Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway,Brooklyn, New York 11238-6052
19th-Century Modern
Opens July 5th.

Featuring more than forty items from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection of American and European decorative arts, 19th-Century Modern focuses on the emergence of Modernism, a design aesthetic based in part on the machine as a source of artistic inspiration. To many, “modern design” suggests the simple lines, abstract decoration, and machine-based methods and materials that gained widespread popularity in the twentieth century. The objects in this installation demonstrate that the development of modern industrial design and the emergence of a taste for abstraction began much earlier. In addition to differences in objects’ appearance, this period marked important modifications in how objects were produced and marketed. The works included illustrate the development of the modern industrial world and of an appreciation for simple decoration based either on geometry or organic curves.

The installation features objects dating from the early nineteenth century, when the trend toward Modernism began, to the twentieth century. The items on view include furniture by John Henry Belter, Duncan Phyfe, the Thonet Brothers, Samuel Gragg, Bradley & Hubbard, and George Hunzinger; silver objects by Tiffany & Company, Gorham Manufacturing, and Napier (in particular designs by Christopher Dresser and Elsa Tannhardt); and a five-piece French clock garniture manufactured by Guilmet.


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