Save money: Spend time in a museum

It's looking as if it will be a winter of discontent, thanks to the nation's collapsing economy. Time to forget the red ink in your retirement fund and head for a museum, where maybe you'll be distracted by a lovely red-ink drawing. USA TODAY gives a preview of what's up this season.

The Ancients

Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture Around the Bay of NaplesNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Through March 22

Well, at least we don't have it as bad as these folks, buried alive by Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. But before all that, life was really good in the seaside villas of the Romans, as this exhibit, the first at the gallery to focus on ancient Roman art, shows. Talk about luxury and opulence. Information: 202-737-4215 or nga.gov.

Art and Empire: Treasures From Assyria in the British MuseumMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston Through Jan. 4

This is what Iraq used to be — nearly 3,000 years ago — a mighty empire, the greatest of the era. Now what's left of it mostly is in the British Museum, from whence these 250 artifacts, dating from the ninth to seventh centuries BC, come. Information: 617-267-9300 or mfa.org.

Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs Atlanta Civic Center Nov. 15-May 25, 2009

The latest Tut exhibit, featuring the usual gold and goodies, makes it to Atlanta. Information: kingtut.org.

The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts of BhutanRubin Museum of Art, New York Through Jan. 5, 2009

A first-ever show of art from a remote country wedged between China and India, featuring 87 works, including paintings, bronzes and ritual objects from temples. Information: 212-620-5000 or rmanyc.org.

American Art

Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not IndianNational Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. George Gustav Heye Center, New York Nov. 1-Aug. 16 in Washington; Nov. 1-May 17 in New York

These twin exhibits present a career retrospective of art by the late Scholder, who was part Luiseño, a California mission tribe. He grew up "not Indian" on the Northern Plains but came to be the most highly regarded painter of Native Americans in U.S. history. Information: 202-633-6986 or americanindian.si.edu.

American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Va. Nov. 12-Feb. 1

Ah, the good ol' days. Do we ever need those back. This show features 41 paintings plus drawings, posters and all 323 of his covers for The Saturday Evening Post, a body of work that shows how this ever-popular artist influenced the development of modern visual culture. Information: 757-664-6211 or chrysler.org.

Andy Warhol: Pop Politics Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H. Through Jan. 4

JFK, Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II, Mao Zedong and a host of others will hang together in this first-ever show of Warhol's political art in some 60 prints, paintings, drawings and photographs. Timed, of course, to Tuesday's election. Information: 603-669-6144 or currier.org.

European Art

Giorgio Morandi, 1890—1964 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Through Dec. 14

This is a first-ever comprehensive survey here of the Italian artist, one of the greatest 20th-century masters of still-life and landscape painting in the tradition of Chardin and Cézanne, and it features some 110 paintings, watercolors, drawings and etchings. Information: 212-535-7710 or metmuseum.org.

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