Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cool Spaces: The New Museum

Today, City Guy and I spent the afternoon at The New Museum. Neither of us had been to the museum, which opened its newly architected space on Bowery last year, and although our main reason for going was to check out the Elizabeth Peyton exhibit, we were pleasantly surprised by how pleasant the entire experience was. The New Museum might just be my new favorite NYC museum, and here are six reasons why:
  1. The architecture is beautiful, modern and comfortable. Every detail, from the green elevators to the wraparound glass balcony rooftop deck is clean, airy, light, simple and modern. I love the cafe where guests can sit on designer chairs and munch on tasty cupcakes or cookies or pizza. Great menu. And the museum shop, though small, has unexpected delights, like the official New Museum Senz umbrella.
  2. The top floor rooftop deck, which is only open on weekends, but can also be rented out for private events, is gorgeous. What amazing views of the LES, Soho, Chinatown.
  3. It's the perfect size. Big enough to satisfy your art craving; small enough to make you feel you've conquered the thing (which you never feel at the Met or MOMA). The Peyton exhibit is drawing good numbers of people, but the galleries don't feel overly crowded. Because there's no permanant exhibit, the museum can devote multiple floors to one artists' work. Today, both the Elizabeth Peyton and Mary Heilmann exhibits were presented on two floors. Also, because it's probably off the radar for the average tourist, the crowd is more of an art crowd, so you feel like you're in the presence of other people who are there to appreciate the art, not just check off another NYC landmark.
  4. The exhibits are focused and well-curated. Both the Peyton and Heilmann exhibits are beautiful, thoughtful mid-career retrospectives. I look forward to seeing more contemporary artists at the New Museum.
  5. There is an education center on the 5th floor, open to the public, stocked with art magazines and books. We spent the better part of an hour in there, just reading Art Forum.
  6. The museum is located at Bowery & Prince Streets, not uptown like the other art museums in Manhattan, and celebrates the artists and culture it grew out of there, on the Bowery. The museum celebrates and supports its neighborhood, and that more than anything makes it feel like the real deal.

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