Gowns, Puppets and Sharks: 8 Cultural Sights to See This Winter

The holidays are over — the Christmas presents opened, the menorah extinguished, the karamu feast consumed — but the unmerry part of the winter season doesn’t have to be a drag.

Whether your taste is in sharks, Disney animation or Dior dresses, there are plenty of shows to see in January and February, as well as outdoor activities that can liven up a gloomy winter day. Just don’t forget your vaccination card. Most museums require mask wearing, and many use timed ticketing, so be sure to check policies and updates on openings online beforehand.

Here are eight ideas to make a cold Saturday in New York into a fun-filled extravaganza.

Dreaming in Silk

Through Feb. 20;

Fairy-tale dresses, gobs of glitter and the designer Christian Dior’s lush color palette are on display at a 22,000-square-foot exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum. More than 200 haute couture garments, including dresses worn by notables like Grace Kelly, Jennifer Lawrence and Princess Diana, mix with sketches, vintage perfume and accessories in an enchanted garden-like space. Look for Natalie Portman’s cape from the 2020 Academy Awards, which is edged with a ribbon listing the names of female directors not nominated that season.

A Melting Pot of Puppets

Through April 3;

Punch and Judy, Oscar the Grouch and Lamb Chop are some of the prominent playthings showcased at a 2,500-square-foot exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. The show even includes the wearable cheetah puppet from Broadway’s “The Lion King.” But it’s not just designs by famous masters like Jim Henson and Julie Taymor in the spotlight: The exhibition, which includes more than 60 figures, some just a few inches tall and some at 12 feet tall, highlights the puppets that traveled with migrants to New York City from across the globe.

“Puppets of New York” includes 60 figures and dolls at the Museum of the City of New York.Credit…Brad Farwell, via Museum of the City of New York

Sharks Reimagined

Through Aug. 14;

An exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History tries to debunk the bad rap movies like “Jaws” have given sharks (attacks are rare, killing about 10 people annually, often when the fish mistake people for seals). Nearly 30 life-size models are on display, including a shark smaller than a human hand and the 65-foot-long whale shark, which looks intimidating but eats only small creatures like plankton and krill (read: you are not on the menu).

A video installation about sharks at the American Museum of Natural History.Credit…An Rong Xu for The New York Times

An Animated Classic

Through Feb. 27;

Visitors to the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens can peruse 40 sketches, animation cels and backgrounds from the director Chuck Jones’s 1966 animated, made-for-television short “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” (based on Dr. Seuss’s 1957 book). The book stuck to a color scheme of black, white and red, but Jones, reportedly inspired by the color of his rental car, dreamed up a mean, green Grinch that would set the standard for all future adaptations.

Decor That Dances

Through March 6;

“Inspiring Walt Disney,” a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is a showcase of 150 artifacts: Hand-drawn Disney sketches and concept art and film footage are displayed alongside their 18th-century European decorative inspirations, including tapestries, furniture and clocks (Cogsworth, anyone?). Look for the nods to Gothic Revival architecture in the pointed arches of Cinderella’s castle, the medieval influences on “Sleeping Beauty” and the French Rococo tableware and tapestries that animators made sing and dance in “Beauty and the Beast.”

Touring Historic Homes;;

In Washington Heights, you can tour the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Manhattan’s oldest house, where George Washington briefly set up headquarters during the Revolutionary War. Aaron Burr once lived there, too, and more recently Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote two songs for “Hamilton” in the home’s bedroom.

In the Bronx, the Van Cortlandt House Museum, the rustic Georgian home of Jacobus Van Cortlandt, a mayor of New York, is said to be the oldest house in the borough (the house sits at the center of Van Cortlandt Park, one of the largest parks in New York City).

And for jazz fans, the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens is a meticulously preserved time capsule of the trumpeter and bandleader’s former home. Armstrong’s half-empty bottle of Lanvin cologne still sits on the dresser in the master bedroom.

Instagrammable Rinks

Through March 6; and Through March 31;

Bryant Park’s ice rink, ensconced among the skyscrapers, is the only one in the city with free admission, though there is a $15-$45 skate rental fee (or you can bring your own).

If skyline views are the goal, Central Park’s Wollman Rink, which costs $14-23, plus an $11 skate rental fee, has been featured in films like “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” and “My Sassy Girl.” Another option is the famous Rockefeller Center rink ($20-$54, plus a $10 skate rental fee) — it really depends on your tolerance for clusters of selfie-snapping skaters.

Everyone wants a shot in front of Prometheus at Rockefeller Center. Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

A Nearby Wonderland

With gardens inspired by various global regions, the 83-acre Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanic Garden is great for contemplative strolls. An arched tunnel composed of 120 hornbeam trees (it’s called an allée) feels like Alice going down the rabbit hole. To warm up, pop into one of the museums on campus, including the Staten Island Museum, the Staten Island Children’s Museum or the Noble Maritime Collection.

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