Spring art roundup: Top museum shows across the USA

In these recessionary times, a museum is still a good bargain (especially if it's free). So when spring weather brings showers, take shelter in one of the nation's many temples to art and culture. USA TODAY's Maria Puente takes a look at some notable exhibits:

Europeans

Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Through Aug. 16

La Serenissima and her three greatest painters — and their 16th century rivalry. This exhibit of 60 paintings explores how these painters created the Venetian style of rich colors and sensual images. Information: 617-267-9300 or mfa.org.

Luis Meléndez: Master of the Spanish Still Life National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. May 17-Aug. 23

The premier still-life painter in 18th-century Spain, Meléndez's career has long been overshadowed by his contemporary, Francisco Goya. This show of 30 paintings, including the gallery's Still Life with Figs and Bread (plus period objects such as a cork wine cooler, Alcorcón pottery and a copper chocolate pot), showcase his talent for rendering everyday objects as mesmerizing works of art. Information: 202-737-4215 or nga.gov.

Becoming Edvard Munch: Influence, Anxiety, and Myth Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill. Through April 26

Think you know all about the man who painted The Scream? This exhibit challenging the myths about his life and career might change your mind. Some 150 paintings and works on paper will be on display. Information: 312-443-3600 or artic.edu.

Americans

On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker From the Melvin R. Seiden Collection Morgan Library & Museum, New York Through May 24

Some 80 original drawings by some of the magazine's most beloved artists who have tackled the theme of money and the ways in which it defines us. Information: 212-685-0008 or themorgan.org.

No Zoning: Artists Engage Houston Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston May 9-Oct. 4

Houston is the largest American city with no zoning ordinances; instead, the city follows a mixed-use approach that allows disparate architecture and functions to blend. This exhibit explores how a chaotic urban topography affects local artists. Information: 713-284-8250 or camh.org.

America I AM: The African American Imprint National Constitution Center, Philadelphia Through May 3

This exhibit celebrates and provides context for nearly 500 years of African-American contributions to American culture, through artifacts, documents, multimedia, photos and music. Information: 215-409-6700 or constitutioncenter.org.

Art & design

Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Through May 17

An ambitious show that looks at the painting, architecture, furniture design, decorative and graphic arts, film and music of a seminal period that launched mid-century modernism in America and established Los Angeles as a major American cultural center. Information: 512-471-7324 or blantonmuseum.org.

Art & science

Endless Forms: Charles Darwin, Natural Science and the Visual Arts

Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn.

Through May 3

One of the many exhibits around the world celebrating Darwin's bicentenary, this show of 200 objects and artworks explores the impact of Darwin's most important theories on visual artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Information: 203-432-2800 or yale.edu/ycba.

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