oxymoron67: (Default)
The New York City Fire Museum

I've never been here before, and it wasn't really that difficult for me to get to, so I decided to go.

It's housed in an old Firehouse on Spring St between Varrick and Hudson and admission is $8 for adults.

Inside are lots of fire engines and pumps, from as early as 1820. Many of the old (hand operated) pumps were interesting, because of how they operated. Rather than an up and down action, a few used a side to side pumping method. Even after the write-ups explained it, I found these ones a little confusing.

There were also uniforms, medals and other artifacts that showed the history of firefighting in NYC, from the volunteer companies pre-1865 through today. It was interesting. I'd never thought about the development of such things before.

Major tragedies were also discussed. 9/11 has its own room as does The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. The Great Fire of 1835 was discussed as were others.


One room had an Elmo Fire Safety video. I wasn't interested in that, as Elmo annoys me. Of course, I'm not in his target audience.

Totally worth the $8. Also, I took my sweet time and I was there for under two hours.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I actually was planning on going to The Museum of the Moving Image for a documentary festival, but I just couldn't get motivated this morning. I'll try again tomorrow.

It's at two p.m., I should be able to manage that.

Anyway... I ended up going to the Museum of the City of NEw York, where I ended up spending a few hours.

The Cecil Beaton exhibit is still up, but I've seen it twice and don't need to see it again. It's spectacular, don't get me wrong, go see it if you get a chance.

I visited the Greatest Grid Exhibit (About the development of the grid in Manhattan). I've seen this before, and it was packed, so I wanted to see it again.

It's an interesting exhibit, but the way it's set up, there are LOTS of dead ends where people can stack up.

After that, I went upstairs to the "Future Designs for the Grid" exhibit. It was .... okay. It was several artists different versions of the future of Manhattan. *shrug*. Two galleries were closed for installations of new exhibits.

Next, I went to the NYC Interiors exhibit. This is a permanent installation: six rooms from different periods in history, from the New Amsterdam Dutch colony period through the Gilded Age.

It's serious furniture porn.

Finally, I spent time in the Police Photographs from the 1970's exhibit. It was interesting. The clothes were so 70's it hurt. But the shots were interesting. Well worth the time.

Afterward, I was a little hungry, so I went to the cafe at the Museo del Barrio, which is right across the street. They have AMAZING empenadas there. The Salvadoran shrimp empenadas are to die for: just the right combination of creamy and spicy. The Bolivian queso empanadas are also delicious.

Alas, they didn't have those. They did have Bolivian chicken empenadas. Unfortunately, it was towards the end of the day, and I think they sat in the heater too long. They were drier and chewier than usual.

Lesson learned: go earlier in the day.
oxymoron67: (Default)
This was my last day of vacation, so I decided to go to The Museum of the City of New York.

They had a free ice cream sandwich promotion, and they were debuting two new exhibits on the development and growth of the grid in Manhattan.

I met up with my friend the Soap Opera Writer, who was only a half hour late. This is as close to on time as he gets.

The lines were huge... I've never seen lines this big there.. and once he had gotten through the line, well, all the ice cream was gone. Honestly, it was probably gone earlier, which is fine.

After several years of renovation, the museum reopened one of the second floor wings, which is currently hosting an exhibit on the future of Manhattan growth and the grid system.

We didn't spend much time in that exhibit. We did, however, spend a lot of time in the history and development of the grid system.

In 1811, NYC was pretty much Downtown Manhattan, which, if you've ever been there, is a confusing maze. For those of us who tend to get lost ANYWAY, Downtown Manhattan is a horror show. Anyway, in 1811, the powers that were decided to survey the rest of the island of Manhattan and layout a grid.

This exhibit is about the original contracts and surveys (which are on display) as well as all the excavation and work involved in the development of the city. There are lots of maps, photos (especially by Berenice Abbot) and contracts that show how the grid was adapted to the different terrains of Manhattan and how some landholders actually added streets (MAdison and Lexington weren't part of the original plan) and hoe Broadway, which was laid out before the grid, survived.


Though, honestly, the way it was laid out was... an interesting failure. The curators decided to mimic the grid system in the space, but this meant that they divided the space into a bunch of little cubbyholes that were difficult to maneuver in.

From there, we went to the Cinema Cafe for dinner.

We split the small plate combo, which included truffled risotto croquettes (delicious!), steak kebabs in a tamarind sauce (A little too chewy for my tastes but delicious), dumplings and spring rolls both fine, but the dipping sauce was wonderful.

Then we split the meatball pizza. It was a margarita pizza (I'm sure I spelled that wrong) base with meatballs, prosciutto and mushrooms on top. It was delicious, too.


Next up? The Morgan has a new exhibit for Robert Burns and Auld Lang Syne. Or... on Thursday night, a German recording artist is going to sing the songs of Kate Bush at Lincoln Center.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I have my next few adventures lined up, though not in any particular order:

1) The Irish Hunger Memorial

2) The Skyscraper Museum.

3) Th Cloisters, which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

4) A return to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, because of three words: German Romantic Painting.

GERMAN ROMANTIC PAINTING. Those words don't go together. I have to see.

So, I'll be busy over the next few weekends.

Meantime, yesterday on PBS, after the Sunday at the Arts broadcast, Emmanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzak Perlman performed chamber music by Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Schubert. It was wonderful. Catch this (it's on Live from Lincoln Center, I think) if you can.

Following that, on the show Great Museums, the collection of Chinese Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was showcased. It was interesting.
oxymoron67: (history)
Yes, I should be getting sick of the same subject line... but I'm not.

Besides seeing a play yesterday, I went to The Rubin Museum of Art. The Rubin specializes in the art of the Himalayas, so Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, parts of Northern India and ... Mongolia.

One of these things is not like the other... one of these things just doesn't belong....

When you walk into the Rubin, after you check your coat and packages, you go down three stairs and on your left is the restaurant, so the entire first floor smells like curry.


I enjoyed this museum, but I probably won't go back often because, well, I lack the cultural background to really understand a lot of the artwork.

Like Western art, much of the art here is religious. I know very little little about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or even the Nestorian Christian traditions. This limits my ability to interpret the works, so all I can do is look at them and think "Oooo... pretty" or "That strikes me as odd" or "Hey, I just saw that guy back there, I wonder why."

See, in the Western tradition, when I see, say, a Madonna and Child, I know that's what EVERYONE painted for like three hundred years or so, and how to analyze it. (Mary is always serene and Christ always has the face of an adult. Look in the background for a portrait of the patron of the artist.)

Or I can say "That's St. Agatha, so those AREN'T bells. They're her breasts."

Anyway, the Rubin

I saw two exhibits there.

One was Visions of the Cosmos. This is a really cool exhibit about creation myths and cosmology across not just the cultures represented at the museum but also in the Western tradition. It was wonderful. This was worth the trip. The artwork was breath-taking, the explanations clear.

The other was From the Land of the Gods, Art of the Kathmandu Valley. This was also interesting, especially the discussion of how the various ethnic groups there contributed to the development of the artistic styles. But, here I was struck with the whole "It's an interesting piece, but I can't place it in its context" thing.

Still, fun to look at.

Then I visited the gift shop, picked up a biography of Kublai Khan and some funny postcards to send to relatives
oxymoron67: (Default)
... because I've been told that I'm a cultural elitist who doesn't understand small town America.

And, no, my brother didn't say it.

Today, I not only went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, I joined. I am now a proud member!

Since admission is now free for me, I'm sure I'll be visiting more frequently.

I went there for three exhibits: Musical Instruments of Oceania, The Burial of King Tut and The Drawings of Bronzino. I slept in and didn't get to the Met until early afternoon, and it was PACKED.

As I walked in, I saw this: The Mourners. I decided to add this to the list of things I wanted to see.

1. Sounding the Pacific: Musical Instruments of Oceania

This was a fascinating exhibition. The things you'd expect to see were there: ukuleles, conch shells, flutes, drums. Then there were the odder instruments.

Did you know that ukuleles came to Hawai'i from Portugal? It was likely derived from a small Portuguese guitar.

This thing, for example. It's a string instrument. It's neat looking, but ... you know, I understand now why I've never heard the phrase "Polynesian Marching Band" before.

I've never heard of some the drums: slit drums, water drums, friction drums.

Totally cool, and small enough that it took about 45 minutes.

Then I got lost in the Greco-Roman section. There are worse places to just wander around aimlessly.

2) The Mourners

This exhibit focuses on the statuary of the tombs of John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy and his wife Margaret of Bavaria. The statues are all gorgeous. The highlight is the procession of 37 small statues, all with stricken looks carved on their faces.

Another small show, this was totally worth it.

The I wandered through Byzantine Art section.

3) Tutankhamun's Burial

This one was... okay. Understand, one of my sisters is an Egyptophile as is one of my closest friends so I;ve seen quite a few Egypt exhibits. In fact, this is one way Pittsburgh spoils its geeks. The Carnegie has a wonderful Egypt section. So does The Field in Chicago.

This was small exhibit of amphorae, stelae, jars (canopic and otherwise), floral collars, statues and flatware. Ive seen better exhibits. Apparently it's a sister exhibit to a larger one at Discovery Times Square, so maybe I should go there and check that out.

After that, I left. I didn't get to see the Bronzino exhibit, but I can come back for that.
oxymoron67: (reading)
I went to the New York City Public Library today to see Candide at 250: Scandal and Success.

Candide was written by Voltaire as a response to Philosophical Optimism, which was prevalent at the time. Philosophical Optimism states that whatever happens, it's for the best. After all, if something happens, it's God's doing and, since God cannor make mistakes, it must be all for the good.* Voltaire himself subscribed to this belief until the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 (which was blamed on us gays).

Rousseau claimed that it was the residents of Lisbon had brought this on themselves by living in a big city, and not in small towns. Therefore, God was acquitted of all blame.

Four years after the earthquake, Candide was published. It was an overnight success. It also spawned a lot of what we would call fan fiction. One piece, written in 1760, continued Candide's adventures into Asia and was frequently published with Candide in one binding.

This exhibition is small, but informative. It shows how Voltaire attacked Optimism and on the after-effects of Candide, which has become part of the Canon.

Candide was turned into a Broadway musical, with music by Leonard Bernstein and a book by Lillian Hellman. It's... problematic. It has been turned into an operetta, and mounted as a Broadway show at least twice. Yet, most still consider it a difficult piece.

*Note how many Christians still think this. When my friend Nikki died, people said it was God's will until the priest, delivering the eulogy said that this wasn't necessarily so. I liked that sermon.

While I was at the library (which is worth visiting just for itself), I also visited "Mapping New York's Shoreline, 1609-2009" This exhibit is part of the 400th Anniversary of the founding of New Amsterdam that many NYC museums are involved in.

I didn't enjoy this quite as much as I had hoped. The maps and the colonial section were fascinating, but as I was getting into it, a tour group came in, and they swarmed over all the displays loudly. I got fed up and left.

After that, I just sat and people watched for awhile. That was fun. Finally, I visited the gift shop: picked up some postcards and two books and left.

One note: the restrooms are in far flung locations. Go to the bathroom before you get here.

Then I went to see The Ghostwriter, which was disappointing. It was slow and there was only one brief shot of naked Ewan MacGregor.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I don't really get having Spring Break three weeks into the term. but whatever.

Actually, I do understand: it coincides with Holy Week. But still, just give us Good Friday (if anything... I'm used to secular institutions that are secular) and schedule Spring Break a few weeks later.


I still haven't gone to either the Candide Exhibit or the Musical Instruments of Oceania Exhibit. So, both of those are on the schedule.

There is a "Hide: Skin as metaphor and material" thing at the National Museum of the American Indian.

The Museum of the City of New York has a retrospective of Charles Addams (creator of the Addams Family). That could be fun.

The Museum of Art and Design has "Slash: Paper under the Knife." Which also looks like fun.

As my eldest nephew puts it, he knows he;s a geek, but I just keep raising that geek bar higher and higher.

I'll also go to eat at lots of different, fun places and then call my brother to gloat share the experience with him.

What? This isn't how you have fun?


Mar. 8th, 2010 02:25 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
This time I went to The J. Pierpont Morgan Museum

The Morgan specializes in letters, manuscripts, rare books and drawings.

The exhibitions I was interested in? The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, an illuminated prayer book. This is considered to be the best Dutch example of such things, and "Rome after Raphael", a collection of drawings by various artists and architects involved in the rebuilding of Rome during the Renaissance, Reformation and Counter-reformation.

Both were neat. About two thirds of the Cleves work was on display. Prayers for each day of the week were there, as were prayers for the intercession of various saints. The artwork was exquisite. As an adjunct to this exhibit, several other Books of Hours were on display. They were wonderful,. but not nearly as beautiful as Cleves.

Rome after Raphael was also excellent. It started with drawing by Raphael and some artists who worked in his studio, and continued with drawings and sketchwork from Michelangelo and those who worked with him and ended with artists of the Counterreformation, who helped usher in the Baroque style.

The Morgan itself is a very nice space. Part of it is the brownstone, office and library where the Morgan family lived. PArt of it is a recent addition. It's a bright, airy space, and nothing felt crowded. (As much as I adore the Frick, sometimes it overwhelming with ALLM THAT ARTWORK everywhere.)

Depending on the exhibition, I'd definitely go back.

Next up on my Intellectual Elitist NYC tour? Either Sounding the Pacific: Instruments of Oceania at the Met or Candide at 250: Scandal and Success.

Given that it ends first and *IS* something my BA and grad work work in French self would be interested in, Candide will likely be first. But the Oceania instruments thing looks so cool.

I'm a geek. If this is news, you haven't been paying attention.
oxymoron67: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] adelheid_p came up to NYC for a visit.

It was fun. We met up on Thursday night before she went to see our friend Scotty's play. (I'm aiming for Thursday, but if Snowpacalypse II: Electric Bugaloo happens, it may be Friday or Saturday.) She wanted to see a museum, so I decided to research that and do some reading -- I really do want to finish the Mitford Sisters book.

Given [livejournal.com profile] adelheid_p's interests, I figured we would end up at The Neue Galerie or The Museum of Art and Design.

We met up for dinner, and I meant to discuss the museums, but it turned into a night of good food, drink and fun with friends. We closed the place down. The chicken curry soup was excellent, as was the lamb skewers and tabbouleh salad. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

The conversation was great, too. Fun as had by all.

The next morning, [livejournal.com profile] adelheid_p called to say that she wanted to go to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) because it was hosting a Tim Burton exhibition. So we went. I woke up with a very sore throat, and all day I felt myself coming down with a cold. Huzzah! But I tried not to let it affect my mood.

The exhibition itself was amazing! So much interesting stuff from drawings from his earliest days at Disney to models of Jack Skellington and his heads for the stop action animation in The Nightmare before Christmas to Batman cowls and a catwoman suit... wow.

But there were issues.

The exhibition was stuffed into this teeny-tiny space and was PACKED. So much so that I started sweating. I was wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt. I shouldn't sweat ANYWHERE in February in a short sleeved t-shirt.

If you love or even just like Tim Burton's work, go see this exhibit. Just be prepared for the crowds.

After we left MoMA, we just hung out for a while then met up with Scott for dinner at a Thai restaurant. (The curry puffs were to die for and the massaman curry was delicious.)

Then we went our separate ways. She went to see Hair, Scott went to his play and I went home, what with a head cold coming on and all.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful. I wasn't feeling well, so I stayed in, only leaving to run to the grocery store to pick up supplies for lunch this week.

Still, Thursday and Friday were fun.
oxymoron67: (Default)
One of the questions I ask is "What Native American tribes live/lived in your state?"

Well, the woman who had South Dakota wrote about the Sioux Indians.

Now, the Sioux Indians* prefer to be called the Dakota or Lakota. I told her this repeatedly, but she didn't really listen.

So, during her States Project presentation, we were told all about the Sioux Indians, which was bad... because she didn't pronounce it properly. It wasn't the "Sue" Indians. No, no, she called then the "Sucks Indians."

I ... would think they'd find that offensive.

Fortunately the class didn't see this one, as it was late.

As I was telling this to my mom, she started laughing, and we discussed The Sucks Indians hunting the Bee-joan through the Weed Fields of Kansas and all across the Great Plains, which stretched from the Grand Canyon in Arkansas to the Great Ball of Twine in Minnesota and east to the great mountain ranges of Ohio that are great for family camping adventures.

Part of me really wants to visit the AU United States that my students have created.

*When I was growing up, at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh (one of the truly great American museums), there was a Sioux exhibit in the Hall of American Indians. This exhibit showed a warrior wielding a tomahawk with a crazed expression on his face. One year, I noticed that they had taped over the word "Sioux" and replaced it with "Lakota". There was anote from the staff saying that "Sioux" was offensive, and that inspired this change.

NEver mind that you could still clearly see "Sioux" under the word Lakota.

Also, never mind that they kept the blood-crazed hatchet-wielding warrior man as the display. Changing "Sioux" to "Lakota" fixed everything.
oxymoron67: (Default)
The Met is massive, This is my fourth? fifth? visit to the place and it marks the first time I managed to get off the first floor. I planned my visit: I wanted to see the Vermeer exhibit, the photography of Robert Franks exhibit and, of course, the Egyptian temple that is housed there.

When I got there, I saw two more things that I decided to check out: the Art of the Samurai exhibit and the sculpture of the Young Archer, which is attributed to Michelangelo.

I decided this time to START with the exhibits on the second floor. So I scurried up the stairs... okay, I took the elevator... besides anyone who knows me would have a hard time picturing me scurrying. The exhibits on the second floor were the Franks exhibit and the Art of the Samurai.

The Franks exhibit.
In the 1950's, Robert Franks received a grant to travel across America, in order to photograph everyday life across the country. He chose 80-90 of them to be published in a book titled The Americans. This book was an instant hit and made Franks an artistic star.

The photos in this exhibit come from the book and from other photo shoots around the world. They are amazing, Definitely a must see. When you enter the gallery, you see Franks' earlier work from Peru, France and Spain (among other places), then, in order that they appear in the book, photographs from The Americans are displayed. Finally, snippets from his later work in film are shown.

An excellent exhibit It runs until January 3rd.

The Art of the Samurai
While an interesting exhibit, this was a bit of a letdown for me. The first half of the exhibit is devoted to the development of the sword in Japan. After a while, I got tired at looking at all the swords. It's not my thing.

Later on in the exhibit, though, the armor and tapestries and fascinating. The armor was highly decorated, and the helms, in particular, are neat, with all their embellishments. The tapestries? Beautiful.

This exhibit runs until January 10th.

Then I went to the first floor where I saw The Young Archer. It's a beautiful piece, though it's not as... um... manly and big as, say, David. Interestingly, the exhibit addressed this, discussing how this was probably very early in Michelangelo's career, and might have been a youth or maybe an depiction of Apollo.

In 1609, the Dutch, led by Henry Hudson, explored the region that would become New York City. To celebrate this, The Dutch government shipped Vermeer's The Milkmaid over to the Met. Vermeer was active at the time of the exploration and later founding of New Amsterdam.

The Met took this painting, along with the Vermeers in its own collection and a few paintings from other Dutch masters of the time, and turned it into an astonishing exhibition. The Vermeers, with their use of light and their technical brilliance were amazing, as were the painting and drawings of the other artists.

The only problem is that the exhibit was PACKED. Clearly, I should have done this one first.

This exhibit only runs until the end of them month. If you are in NYC, you owe it to yourself to see this one.

Finally, I went to the Egyptian Temple of Dendur. It was built around 15 BC. It's an actual Egyptian Temple, given to the MEt by Egypt after the Army Corps of Engineers helped with the construction of the Aswan Dam. IT is the only Egyptian Temple int he Western Hemisphere. Whenever I'm at the Et, I always stop here.

I'm not the Egyptophile that my sister Erin and my good friend Michele are, but I do love it.

After that, I had spent a little over two hours there, and the crowds were starting to get to me so I left.

The Met is an amazing place: so huge. I don't think you CAN do it justice in one day. You need to pick and choose what you want to see. But always leave some wiggle room, because I promise you, once you get there, a special exhibition or two that you didn't about will jump out and scream "Visit me!" Give in to the impulse.
oxymoron67: (Default)
The Museum of Modern Art was today's stop in my geek-a-thon.

Now, a caveat... I am not the biggest fan of modern art. While it can be amazing, frequently, modern art leaves me cold. As a result, I didn't know how I was going to react to the museum.

I only stopped in two galleries: the James Ensor exhibit and the Sculpture exhibit.

Ensor was a Belgian artist who studied impressionism, but went beyond impressionism to modernism. Much of his work was fascinating: his family owned a curiosity shop that sold masks for carnival. He later used masked figures in his work... it gives his work an almost sinister bent at times. Even when he didn't use masks, he didn't put in many facial features, again lending his work a certain sense of danger or at least uncertainty.

He also did a series of works taking Biblical scenes and updating them: putting those stories into his Belgium. The two (out of eight) that were shown were cool.

Also, he did interesting things with colors. The way he used them forced the eye in certain directions.


The Sculpture exhibit was neat, too. Lots of the installations were neat to look at. The down side? They had the words of one of the artists on the wall, and he said something like "The Disney-fication of NYC has made New Yorkers into silverback gorillas who will approach people to be fed."

Clearly, this man is a jerk.

Also, while I *WASN'T* here during the bad old days, when Times Square was a war zone, all the people I know who were here at that time prefers the Disney Days. They're not perfect, but, you know, fewer muggings.

I left after this because I ... couldn't get comfortable there. The climate control in the Ensor exhibit was wonderful, but the benches were placed so low... they didn't even come half-way up my calves. They weren't benches. They were really big kneelers.

The climate control in the Sculpture exhibit bothered me. It was just on the edge of too warm for me. This eventually drove me from this museum. Of course, I really was only planning to go through one more exhibit at most, anyway, so it's not so terrible.

It's worth going.
oxymoron67: (Default)
I figured that Id take a day off from painting the town geek. So, in lieu of anything else...

[Poll #1445566]
oxymoron67: (Default)
Located right next to the main entrance/exit to the 4 and 5 trains, this is an interesting little museum housed in The Alexander Hamilton Custom House. This building is worth seeing just for itself. It's "one of the best examples of Beaux Arts architecture", according to the museum guide.

It is a beautiful building.

As an added bonus, since it is part of the Smithsonian, it charges no admission fees. On the other hand, you do have to go through a metal detector.

The museum itself only took about two hours to go through. Of course, this doesn't include the movie screening, as I missed it and wasn't willing to wait another two hours for it to start up again.

The three exhibits they had: two artist spotlight exhibits and one on dresses and dressmaking, All three were interesting exhibits.

One artist was an Inuit woman who drew her sketches with pencil. Her sketches were an interesting make of Inuit traditional scenes and more modern themes, including watching TV and darker themes like violence and addiction.

The other artist is from the Rockies ... the Canadian Rockies, I think. This woman did an entire series of drawings of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature of legend.

Finally, the dressmaking exhibit. The amount of beading is incredible, as is the use of local dyes and traditional methods. Also included, in a glass case where no photography is allowed, are a few dresses from the Ghost Dancers. The Lakota and other Plains Indians don't discuss the Ghost Dance movement with outsiders much*, so just seeing these dresses was a privilege.

*Given what happened at Wounded Knee I can't blame them.

If you wnt to go to a museum that has a different focus than most, this is a good choice.
oxymoron67: (reading)
Did you know that The Guggenheim is closed on Thursdays?

Well, imagine my surprise.

I didn’t find this until I was already at the Guggenheim, however, so I left a message for the person I was meeting and waited.

He showed up, but hadn’t checked his messages. We were sorely vexed.

Fortunately, I had a map of the “Museum Mile” handy, so I had options. We could go one block one way to the Academy of Arts Museum or two blocks the other way to the Neue Galerie, which specializes in German and Austrian art.

I sold Scott on the Galerie with the words “German Impressionism”. So, we went there expecting to be horrified and entertained.

Imagine our surprise.

The Neue Galerie is a wonderful space. The third floor is devoted to German artists; the second, to Austrians. There is also a special exhibitions space on the second floor.

The works themselves cover the late 19th to the early 20th century: so Expressionism, Surrealism, Bauhaus, among others, are featured. The most powerful pieces for me those that were created after World War I: the anger and cynicism evident in those drawings and paintings were palpable.

The two floors do not take long to go through, and, after seeing them, we went to the café, which was delightful. It was a Viennese café, so we had German fare and fine Viennese coffee and then went our separate ways.

A delightful way to spend a few hours.
oxymoron67: (reading)
The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, The National Design Museum is part of NYC's Museum Mile along Fifth Avenue. The museum is housed in Andrew Carnegie's mansion at 91st and 5th Ave.

Before I continue, because I am a geek who is from Pittsburgh and who loves history, I feel the need to compare Carnegie's mansion to Henry Clay Frick's NYC mansion, also along 5th Ave, and also now a museum, The Frick Collection.

In terms of aesthetics, I prefer Frick's mansion. Part of this may be because the Frick has preserved the mansion as it was when the family lived there, whereas the Cooper-Hewitt has made some drastic changes to the Carnegie Mansion. (Sofe of which will probably be undone int he current renewal project.)

Also, being in the Frick just makes me happy. Such amazing art... everywhere a treasure.... sigh.

This is not to say that The Cooper-Hewitt isn't a wonderful place: it is. It's just that the Frick is so delightful.

The two exhibits I saw at the Cooper-Hewitt were Fashioning Felt, which dealt with the production and uses of, well, felt; and Shahzia Sikander Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection. One was an amazing exhibit; the other, considerably less so.

Fashioning Felt was amazing. The displays included clothing, rugs, furniture, murals, all sorts of things. My favorite spot was in what was almost certainly the Solar of the Carnegie Mansion. Here, they had assembled a yurt, a Mongolian tent. The effect was airy and relaxing. Inside, they provided catalogues of the exhibition to browse through, and these were wonderful.

The end of the exhibit had pieces of felt that you were allowed to touch, and the sheer variet of textures, from very rough to almost silky smooth were impressive. A video of Mongolians (or maybe Kazakhs) making felt the old-fashioned way was also playing, watching them stretch the rough wool on a piece of "mother felt", then wetting it down and rolling it up and having camels or horses drag it along the landscape was fun to watch. The other method, women beating the wool into felt look like a lot less fun.

This exhibit focused mainly on Mongolian and Central Asian techniques for production of felt, though the pieces were from around the world.


I had lunch in the cafe there nd soent way too much money. Don't get me wrong, the chicken sandwich with arugula and an "onion pocket" and tomato chutney was delicious, but at $9.00? Not so much.

After that, I went to the Shahzia Sikander selects exhibit.

The idea here is that an artist or architect or designer is allowed to choose pieces from the collection to be displayed, which is a neat idea in theory.

Here? Not so much.

Why? I didn't see any unifying theme other than "Assorted stuff the artist likes." There was a cabinet and assorted caprets from Persia, a few books, and a case with political buttons and signet rings. And a few other things.

It felt haphazard to me.

Having said that, the signet rings were cool. As were the political buttons and flyers.

This museum is certainly worth the trip: it should only take a few hours to go through, and is easily accessible via mass transit.


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