Arts Agenda: A roadmap for culture vultures

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orld-class art exhibits, regional concerts, unique theater presentations and outdoor festivals, all these help enrich an overnight business hop or a long-planned vacation trip. What follows is the first of an occasional series of round-ups highlighting cultural hot spots worthy of any traveler's attention.

U.S.

• Beacon, N.Y. -- Dia Beacon is a 240,000-square-foot exhibition space that most recently was a paper factory. Set on the east bank of the Hudson River within easy driving distance of New York, the just-opened museum houses works by such noted contemporary artists as Donald Judd, Agnes Martin and Andy Warhol.

• Boston. Anyone fascinated by the life of Jacqueline Kennedy has until Oct. 31 to visit the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, where an anniversary celebration is being chronicled as "The Wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John Kennedy."

• Houston. A double delight of pop culture awaits visitors to the Contemporary Art Museum. Running through June 29, "Splat Boom Pow! The Influence of Cartoons in Contemporary Art" showcases more than 60 works of cartoon art. The museum also focuses on the world of a noted pop figure in an exhibition running through June 15, "Strange Messenger: The Work of Patti Smith."

• New Orleans. The New Orleans Museum of Art kicks off the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial with "Jefferson's America & Napoleon's France," through Aug. 31. The exhibition includes Josephine's jewels and Jefferson's ivory notebook.

• New York. There's still time to catch the Metropolitan Museum of Art's blockbuster exhibition, "Manet/Velazquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting." The closing date has been extended three weeks, to June 29.

Although the Metropolitan Museum looks out on Central Park, tell your clients to look in the museum to see the park. Through Aug. 31, the museum celebrates the park's 150th birthday with an exhibition, "Central Park: A Sesquicentennial Celebration," which includes original design renderings.

It's only a short walk from the Met to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, where a later era in art unfolds with "Picasso to Pollock: Classics of Modern Art." The exhibition runs from July 4 to Sept. 21.

Looking for some pop? Through Sept. 14, the Jewish Museum provides a nostalgic view of some of America's greatest showmen in "Entertaining America: Jews, Movies and Broadcasting."

Across the river in Brooklyn, colorful old pulp magazines of the '30s and '40s come to life in "Pulp Art: Vamps, Villains and Victors From the Robert Lesser Collection." Running through Aug. 31 at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the show features more than 100 magazine cover paintings.

• North Adams, Mass. MASS MoCa has an unusual show. "Fantastic," which runs through spring 2004, explores the relationship between the paranormal and the utopian through the work of five contemporary artists. North Adams is located in the Berkshires, about a three-hour drive northwest from Boston.

• Philadelphia. U.S. history is on tap at the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia's new exhibition, "The Living Landmark: Philadelphia's Independence Hall," running through Dec. 29.

• San Diego. "Degas in Bronze: The Complete Sculptures" comes to the San Diego Museum of Art June 28. Running through Sept. 28, the exhibition features a rarity -- 73 bronze sculptures by Edgar Degas -- augmented by drawings, paintings and photographs.

• Vail, Colo. From July 18 to 26, the New York Philharmonic will make a first-ever visit to Vail for a nine-day, six-concert residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

International

Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum is open again. The museum closed in April for an asbestos cleanup. • Amsterdam. There's good news for travelers with the reopening in stages of the famed Rijksmuseum, which closed in April due to asbestos problems. Rembrandt's "The Nightwatch" will be on view in the reopened gallery of 17th century Dutch masters.

• London. Nostalgia reigns in London, where the Victoria & Albert Museum brings visitors "Art Deco 1910-1939." Running through July 20, the exhibition features over 300 items, including the 1930 foyer of London's Strand Palace Hotel.

Go back in time with a trip to the British Museum and visit "London 1763," through Nov. 23 and even further back to celebrate the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth. On the 400th anniversary of the death of "Good Queen Bess," the National Maritime Museum in nearby Greenwich is featuring the largest collection of the queen's personal belongings through Sept. 14.

• Paris. A glamorous woman is being celebrated in "Marlene Dietrich: Creation of a Myth," running through Oct. 12 at Musee Galliera. The exhibition features more than 250 fashions and accessories worn by the star in films, stage shows and in her private life.

• Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival is an event with an interesting concept -- a focus on the music and musicians of a different country each year. "Great Britain: May We Have the Pleasure?" is the theme for this year's July 12 to Aug. 31 festival, featuring 130 events at 57 venues in 33 locations in such cities as Hamburg, Kiel and Luebeck.

Alvin H. Reiss, a long-time writer on the arts and tourism, is editor of the periodical the Travel Arts Partnership Newsletter, (TAP), from which some of this material has been adapted. TAP is published by Museums Magazines, the Arts & Business Council and the Arts Knowledge Corp. Information on TAP is available at www.travelartspartnership.com.

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