Summertime means travel, and for many of us, art-related destinations set the itinerary. In cities around the world, museums await; the coolness of their galleries offer a retreat  for the senses and a bounty of art to behold. This year, three institutions top our must-see list: The Met Breuer in New York, Tate Britain in London and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Taking place there are delightful encounters between past and present, art and architecture, viewer and maker. Those juxtapositions bring art to life in vital and meaningful ways – which is why Sotheby’s proudly supports these museums and their programming. 


BROTHERTONLOCK © PABLO BRONSTEIN 

Tate Britain, London

In the 300-foot Duveen galleries at the heart of the nation’s collection of British art, three classically trained dancers are walking a circuit of white lines applied to majestic stone floors.  In tight black leggings and loose red tops, adorned with strands of oversized faux white pearls, they twirl their wrists, flutter their hands, thrust their hips – and then pose. Their movements channel the 17th-century Italian courtly art of sprezzatura, or studied carelessness, as much as the highly stylised late 20th-century voguing of New York City’s gay ballrooms. Their stillness acts as a reminder that upon opening in 1937, this massive barrel-vaulted neoclassical space was dedicated to exhibiting sculpture. Bracketed by giant trompe l’œil friezes representing parts of the building that houses it, Argentine artist Pablo Bronstein’s Historical Dances in an Antique Setting, a performance created for this year’s Tate Commission (through 9 October), subverts time, architecture, artistic genres and, perhaps most pleasurable of all, our expectations.  


COURTESY THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART © 2016

The Met Breuer, New York

This spring, the Metropolitan Museum of Art expanded its modern and contemporary programming into the Whitney Museum of American Art’s former home, a Brutalist landmark designed by Marcel Breuer. Inside The Met Breuer, structural changes are minimal – the ground floor and lobby have remained the same, and visitors can still rest or chat in the rectinlinear stairwell. But for those knew the old Whitney, the cognitive dissonance is real, and it increases as you discover works you would never have imagined here – nearly-done Titians loaned by museums near and far;  a tentative Cézanne view of Provence – in the inaugural show, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible (through 4 September). Making full use of the present – curators working across departments and across the globe, a context at once familiar and strange – Unfinished widens our understanding of just what an encyclopaedic museum can do. A forthcoming show of previously unexhibited Diane Arbus photographs (beginning 12 July) and a major Kerry James Marshall retrospective (opening 25 October) will only stretch it further. 


© YUZ MUSEUM SHANGHAI AND FONDATION GIACOMETTI PARIS, 2016 © ESTATE GIACOMETTI 

Yuz Museum, Shanghai

To fully deploy their essential fragility, the monumental figures that Alberto Giacometti conceived for New York’s Chase Manhattan Plaza in the 1960s require a vast expanse of space. They have found ample room in this 97,000-square-foot former airport hangar: Under the watchful eye of Fondation Annette et Diego Giacometti director Catherine Grenier, these works and more than 250 others are part of the first Giacometti exhibition ever to be mounted in China, on view through the end of July. From miniature busts in one gallery to drawings, photographs and manuscripts elsewhere, and with a full-size recreation of the artist’s Montparnasse studio, this extensive retrospective is an eye-opener. In such a contemporary environment – the largest, newest private museum in the most cosmopolitan of Chinese cities – the contrast between then and now is particularly rich, the proportion of art to architecture just right. Opened two years ago after remodeling by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, this brainchild of Indonesian-Chinese megacollector Budi Tek might just make Shanghai the cultural capital it wishes to be.


Lead image: Adolph Menzel, Altar in a Baroque Church, 1880-1890. Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art © 2016.