Apparently, I saved the biggest museum for last. The galleries of The Metropolitan Museum of Art cannot be seen in a day, let alone in the few hours I had left before it closed on one of my last days in the city. Rather than spending my time exploring the temporary exhibitions, I found myself drawn to my usual haunts: 19th & 20th century paintings.
While I love discovering new artists, I also love returning to those whom I’ve studied and appreciated for years. As part of my first Art History class in college, I wrote a paper on an artist named Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. After spending a good two months “with” the French painter and poster-maker, I feel a certain connection with his art. Now, whenever I find myself in a position to look at late 19th-century art, I instantly search for any of his work!
In the case of the Met, I easily found what I was looking for. I had visited this wing often enough. There I stood in front of this painting and others by my favorite painter, transfixed by a magic one feels when seeing the exacting strokes of another person’s vision. The rapidity of the brushstrokes, the brightness of the colors, the texture of the cardboard canvas. (Obviously, this little picture doesn’t do it any justice.)
After spending a sufficient amount of time gazing at Toulouse-Lautrec’s works, I decided to use the last ten minutes before the museum’s closing to my advantage. I just had to seek out a new favorite section of the Museum.
Within the Asian wing of the Met are a few galleries dedicated to the art of India. In them I found ancient statues of Hindu gods and goddesses taken from temples and ruins that I had visited during my travels in the country. In those final ten minutes of my visit, I had found another way to reminisce from afar!
So I guess that’s the takeaway from my summer of learning -- always be looking for something new to love.
Besides the statues of deities in the ancient Indian art rooms, I also discovered these centuries-old royal earrings. I know I never saw anything like these while in India -- and I know that I definitely have something new to love!
Until we meet again!
Like most New Yorkers, I ride the subway every morning and every evening. I must say, I adore the city’s public transportation system. I love commuting without needing to drive (or even walk very far). I love seeing new faces every time I enter the train. I love wondering about these new faces and where they are going in such a rush. And I definitely love being able to blame public transportation if I’m late for something, even though it was probably my own fault.
Despite spending so much time on these trains, I have realized that I know next to nothing about a system so integrated into my daily life – or at least I didn’t, until last Saturday when I paid a visit to probably one of the world’s only underground museums: The New York Transit Museum.
For someone who loves art museums, this might seem like a strange choice, but I find the subway system so incredible that spending the day learning about it was very well worth it.
Well…I suppose the subway doesn’t seem so incredible when I’m crushed between fellow commuters on the A train, getting upset at how long it takes me to get into midtown.
Then I remember how much work and planning went into the trains, the stations and the routes. I mean, who decided which stations express trains would stop at? And how did they decide where to build all these stations? How do the trains even stay on the tracks?!
I’m happy to say that I learned some answers to these and numerous other questions I had about public transit in New York. At the Transit Museum, I learned all about the old systems of horse-carts, trolleys and elevated trains. I learned about the 1941 Harlem bus boycott that resulted in the Fifth Avenue Coach’s hiring of black employees. I learned that there was a special Diamond Jubilee subway token used from 1979-80 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the subway system. I learned that it used to cost a nickel to ride the subway. A nickel!
Most importantly, I learned about something that I use every day in the city: something that millions of New Yorkers and visitors (myself included) take for granted all the time.
After leaving the old subway station that now comprises the Museum, I called my grandmother – a native New Yorker and Arizona transplant who loves to hear about everything I do in her city. We chatted about how, as a teenager, she used to take the train from her home in the Bronx to Rockaway. She and her cousin would comb the beach, and as she put it, go “pick up some sailors” – she eventually found the right one in my grandfather.
She’s always amazed that that same train ride now costs $2.50.
Then I used my hard-earned $2.50 to take the A train home.
Until next week!
The Transit Museum has several long-term exhibits on display, including: Steel, Stone & Backbone: Building New York's Subways 1900-1925 and On the Streets: New York's Trolleys and Buses.
Check out their family programs here: http://www.mta.info/mta/museum/pdf/NYTM_ccalendar.pdf
Image 1 courtesy of the New York Transit Museum.
The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), part of the Smithsonian Institution, is a multi-site museum that presents the Native cultures ofthe Western hemisphere. Learn about diverse pasts, presents and futures at the New York City facility in downtown Manhattan!
At NMAI, explore the exhibitions and fun family programs. You and your family can learn and play games, listen to stories and do arts and crafts. There is a diverse mix of programs that are perfect for your family to enjoy.
Japan Society is a cool and culturally rich place to visit with your family! The Society brings the people of the United States and Japan together with programming which offers opportunity for mutual understanding. Check out the many fun and stimulating programs in arts and culture, as well as temporary exhibitions in its gallery.
“Memory: Things we should never forget” is an exhibition that features photos of the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The images showcase both the catastrophic consequence of the natural disaster and the strength and hope that people had while rebuilding their homes and their lives. Be inspired by the power of unity, collaboration, and family through even the toughest of times. On view through May 27, 2012.
Japan Society also offers fun and creative family programs!
“Japan’s Star Festival: Storytelling & Create Tanabata Decorations” Sunday, July 15, 2 PM. The program introduces various forms of storytelling in Japan’s Tanabata tradition. It also includes hands-on activities for the participants such as making paper ornaments! Recommended for children ages 3-10 and accompanying adults.
Japan Society is open:
Gallery hours are valid during exhibition dates
Tuesday - Thursday: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
333 E 47th Street
New York, NY 10017
>> Directions to Japan Society.
The Museum of the City of New York offers an array of fun exhibitions and programs – take your family and learn more about the history of New York City!
Save the date for:
Museum of the City of New York is open:
Monday – Sunday: 10:00 am–6:00 pm.
Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Did you know? The New-York Historical Society Museum is the oldest in the city (almost 70 years older than the Met)! Hop on a bus or train with your family to explore this world-class collection of art and discover how history influences our lives today!