The best new art museum shows to see this spring

When you know how much creativity, time, money and high-level negotiations go into organizing museum exhibitions — often two to 10 years in the making — you can’t help but marvel at how many we have every year to choose from. America has some of the world’s best, most ambitious and, frankly, most productive museums.

This spring? It’s going to be great. Below are some of the shows I’m most keen to see. Take your pick. But also: Do your own research. Every museum website has an “upcoming exhibitions” page. Mix and match, or dig into your favorite style or period of art. Make travel plans, if need be. Take a friend, your dad, an aunt, your anarchic little twins — one of whom likes drawing, the other throwing punches. See how things go. (Or don’t risk it?) If you’ve left them at home, find a nice place (maybe the museum cafe) where you can retire for lunch or an early-evening glass of wine. Try to appreciate all the work and logistics that go into bringing you so many beautiful, challenging, fascinating things to look at, and enjoy the freedom to come and go as you please.

Matisse and the Sea

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A new angle on Henri Matisse? Is that even possible? In this case, yes. Matisse drew, painted and made cutouts on marine themes throughout his career. The French artist voyaged long distances by ship. And of course, he loved the color blue. “Matisse and the Sea,” at the Saint Louis Art Museum, will include paintings, sculptures, paper cutouts, drawings, prints, ceramics and textiles. If nothing else, it’s bound to make everyone who sees it breathe more deeply. Feb. 17-May 12 at the Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis. slam.org.

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