On November 1, 2019, I decided to visit MoMA on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to see the final result of this stupendous project that opened for all to see on October 21st. Frankly, I was amazed at the number of people who showed up. After all, it was a Friday afternoon at 4:00 pm. People should be at work – or at school I thought. Or, was it because this was the day after Halloween? Obviously, I’m a bit out of it because MoMA was like Times Square on New Year’s Eve – but not quite. Everyone was very well behaved and incredibly focused and interested in the art.
EVERYTHING MOVES AT AN EFFICIENT PACE
I decided to go up to the fifth floor via the escalator and then go down to the fourth. There are information desks nearby on each floor that are staffed with people who really know the exhibit and the layout of the museum (not an easy task when one is talking about 170,000 sq. ft.) The floors are laid out in “rooms” that are numbered. For example, I wanted to know where I could find Meret Oppenheim’s 1936 surrealist fur-lined teacup – the museum’s first acquisition by a female artist – and was told exactly where it was.
The all-inclusive (10 ways to say “Happy to See You”) and a colorful ticket to the Museum of Modern Art
THE ORIGINAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART OPENED IN 1939
Philip Johnson (known for his famous Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut) expanded the original structure 55 years ago. Now, because the former home of the American Folk Art Museum was demolished to make way for the new six-story-high David Geffen wing there is 30% more gallery space. In addition to this, the floor-to-ceiling windows allow ample natural light to flow through.
One has to take a bit of a walk to get to the “Education, Library and School Group” but it’s definitely worth it. When you see “Photography” by Goshka Macuga you will be overwhelmed. She describes it as, “An exhibition within an exhibition” and adds, “It’s a big gesture for MoMA to invite artists to make commissions that will remain for up to 10 years.”
GOING FORWARD: A NEW DIRECTION FOR MOMA
The museum has resolved to include more women artists and, like many institutions, has had to adapt to the recent and dramatic shifts in our culture. So on the fifth floor I quickly looked at paintings by Picasso, Dali, Cézanne, Schiele and Hopper. Then I spied one work of art that really spoke to me by an artist I didn’t recognize: Faith Ringgold (who is now a spry 89-years-old and still going strong).
Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” from 1907 now hangs in Gallery 503 – Photo courtesy of In New York magazine, January 2020
The fifth floor also has a long, outdoor balcony that overlooks the Sculpture Garden below (which was originally designed by curator, John McAndrew in a single night – a couple of weeks before the museum opened) and is still a great oasis in a busy environment.
“Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh in 1889 had such a huge crowd in front of it I could barely see it – one just had to be patient and wait
The collection galleries are spread out across three floors and hold thousands and thousands of artworks. You’ll find paintings, sculpture, video, drawings and more coexisting in MoMA. Going ahead there will be changes every six months as the art is rotated.
THERE’S MORE TO MOMA THAN THE GALLERIES
The museum also has a new, expansive lobby – which has two galleries that can be visited for free – as well as a gift shop that’s below street level – a wall of windows allows passersby to take a look. It’s possibly the largest shop I’ve ever seen in a museum. Note: everything in MoMA is cutting edge, including the restrooms, whose faucets have built-in hand dryers. (Never heard of that before.)
Exterior view of the museum’s Blade Stair Atrium on West 53rd Street – Photo courtesy of In New York magazine, January 2020
ONE FINAL COMMENT FROM A CRITIC WHO SAYS
“Before this $450 million renovation I felt as if I walked a quarter of a mile into MoMA before I saw art. That’s no longer true. Now the museum is less of a tunnel connecting 53rd and 54th Streets – there is more of an open, airy space that plays host to the art itself.”
I stayed for an hour-and-a-half before I felt I had to take a break. Believe me, this is hard work. There is a bar room, café and restaurants available but I didn’t have time to sample any of the selections. Why not take a rest and treat yourself? It will be the perfect end to a perfect visit.Shaun Nelson-Henrick
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I just read an article that sounded – to me at least – like “a canary in a coal mine” or an early warning of danger. This piece, written by Joe Pompeo, appeared in the May 2020 issue of Vanity Fair magazine with the title “The British Tabloid Invasion” and a subtitle that read, “How the Daily Mail is conquering American gossip.”
The paparazzi horde, La Dolce Vita, 1960 – photo courtesy of Vanity Fair
Apparently the good old U.S. is a nation of “not great” sleepers. Really? And I thought I was the only one! According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it was revealed that one out of three Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. Yikes!
I think we’re all taken by the incredible mystique of the famous French fashion house, Hermès that has been with us for two centuries and is still owned and operated by the same family. From its beginnings in fine equestrian leather goods, they are – in the tumultuous year 2020 – best known for their handbags and many other items.
My image of Hermès has always been rarified products at equally rarified prices so imagine my surprise when I recently received a very stylish publication of theirs in the mail.
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February 20, 2020
Great succinct overview of the newly renovated MoMA. Have visited once on a trip to New York, look forward to visiting this museum again.