New York Hall of Science | Connected Worlds

January 3, 2016

The Great Hall of the New York Hall of Science is one of the great unique spaces of New York City, like the Guggenheim’s spiral ramp or Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse. So it was with great joy that I learned that the Great Hall had been renovated and was being transformed into a 21st century interactive experience, teaching children about ecology, cause and effect, as well as unintended consequences.

Noguchi Museum | The Museum of Stones

December 31, 2015

This was a unique opportunity for my blog: a museum exhibit that titles itself as a museum. The Noguchi Museum was started in 1985 and is the first museum in the US created by a living artist to exhibit his work.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting

November 12, 2015

I was so moved by this exhibit that I had to see it twice, a first for my 50 Museums project. I had been waiting for a great show to visit the Guggenheim, and this was it. Alberto Burri was an important figure in modern art who’s last major exhibit in the United States was nearly 40 years ago, yet throughout his career, he was a major influence on modern artists on both sides of the Atlantic. It was a treat for me to be exposed for the first time to a modern master.

John M. Mossman Lock Museum at the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of The City Of New York

October 17, 2015

Here is something you don’t see every day — a display of six thousand years of locks and keys — with the skull and booty of Gibbs the Pirate thrown in — at a museum that is truly hard to find and to get into. The John M Mossman Lock Collection is hidden on the second floor of the General Society of of Mechanics & Tradesmen, and is only open from Tuesday through Friday, often only for a half day. I would never of found this place or managed to get in, if it wasn’t for Open House New York Weekend, which allowed me to visit for free and on a Saturday.

The Studio Museum in Harlem | Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange

September 13, 2015

The Studio Museum in Harlem is a different from any museums that I can remember visiting. It is a museum that specializes on one cultural group — African Americans — to present contemporary artists without any of the ethnic history which you would see for instance, at the Rubin Museum or the National Museum of the American Indian, or the Jewish Museum.

Socrates Sculpture Park

August 29, 2015

Socrates Sculpture Park is not just space for outdoor sculpture like, for instance, Storm King Art Center — it is as much a city park as it is a sculpture garden. The morning we were there, people were playing with their dogs around the sculptures (dogs are allowed off-leash until 10am), there was a yoga class in among Torqueing Spheres. There was also a farmers market and a composting event going on. A posted calendar of events includes art classes, as well as kayaking and movie nights. This is truly a park for the community, and the sculpture on exhibit is both accessible and very interesting.

New York Botanical Gardens | FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life

August 16, 2015

This exhibit has many levels: first there is Frida Kahlo’s artwork, both still lifes and portraits, on display in the Library. Second, in the Conservatory, there is a collection of plants from Frida’s home: the Casa Azul. Thirdly, special signage in English and in Spanish highlight all of the plants from Mexico throughout the Botanical Gardens. Finally the museum has given a Mexican theme to their restaurants and gift shop.

Maine Forestry Museum | Dioramas of David Barten of Conway, Massachusets

July 25, 2015

Every year, while on vacation in Rangeley, Maine, we go to the Logging Festival on the grounds of the Maine Forestry Museum (until recently, named The Rangely Lakes Region Logging Museum). The museum itself never seems to change from year to year, so I don’t always go in. But this year I took a peek during the festival, and I was surprised to discover this delightful new exhibit of wooden dioramas.

Shelburne Museum | Hat Boxes and Bandboxes

July 19, 2015

Middlebury, and vacationing almost every summer in New England, I’m not sure how I had not made it to the Shelburne Museum until now. This place is huge — 23 buildings on 45 acres. The museum is so extensive, that all tickets are good for 2 days. Electra Havemeyer Webb, who founded the museum, didn’t just collect folk-art, quilts, dolls, decoys, carriages — she collected 18th and 19th century buildings which she moved onto the grounds and used to house and display her collections. The one collection that I found most intriguing was the hat boxes and bandboxes.

The Coney Island Museum

July 12, 2015

The Coney Island Museum reminds me of the Side Show by the Seashore that it is connected to — part nostalgia, part wonder, and part hucksterism. This is in the museum tradition that goes back to P.T. Barnum’s American Museum, which was in New York almost 30 years before the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museums tells the history of Coney Island through artifacts, some wonderful, some shocking and some making you laugh at yourself for having paid to come in.

The Henry Ford | Dymaxion House

June 16, 2015

I had heard about Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House — I remember seeing it in plans and photos at an Exhibit at the Whitney in 2008 — so, when I heard that the only existing house was in the Henry Ford, near Detroit where I was visiting, I was very excited to get to see it and walk through it.

Detroit Institute of Arts |Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit

June 13, 2015

We were in Detroit on vacation, so we couldn’t miss going to see Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit. I don’t remember ever seeing a show quite like this one — a large “behind the scenes” temporary exhibit describing the making of a masterpiece in a museum’s permanent collection. But then, again Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals are unusual, in that few works of art are made specifically for a museum.

City Reliquary | The Pizza Box Chronicles

June 7, 2015

The City Reliquary is an wonderful museum in an old Brooklyn bodega, which exhibits objects of New York at its quirkiest and most ordinary. The Pizza Box Chronicles, organized by Scott Wiener, Guinness Worlds Record holder for largest pizza box collection, is perfect for this museum.

Whitney Museum of American Art | America is Hard to See

May 24, 2015

WOW! I was looking forward to my visit to the newly re-opened Whitney Museum, but almost as soon as I entered I realized just what a treat it was going to be. The inaugural exhibit America Is Hard to See was hard to see — it was so good I didn’t want to rush it or be overwhelmed, so I decided my first visit would only concentrate on the top floor, covering the period from 1900- 1940’s, because there’s so much to see. I promised myself to come back soon to see the rest.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum |Shop Life

May 17, 2015

Photograph by Keiko Niwa
Unlike most Museums, you can’t buy a ticket and wander into the Tenement Museum– you have to book one of 8 thematic building tours, or one of the 5 walking tours or participate in one of 3 experiences with costumed interpreters. I saw a presentation at the Museum Computer Network conference by the Tenement Museum’s Director of Education, Miriam Bader, about the use of technology in the “Shop Life” and I knew this was the tour I wanted to take.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum | Hubble@25

May 16, 2015

I grew up loving space exploration, and when I saw recently that the Intrepid was having a show about the Hubble Space Telescope, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to visit this museum. Then I discovered that the exhibit was actually under the wings and tail of the Space Shuttle Enterprise, and I became that excited little boy again. Coupling the exhibit with the first Space Shuttle, which was in fact named Enterprise after the ship on Star Trek, this appealed both to the nerd and the museum nerd in me.

New Museum | 2015 Triennial: Surround Audience

April 30, 2015

I found this exhibit overwhelming, with so many artists, many showing a half dozen pieces. It was only as I left the museum that realized how much I had enjoyed a number of pieces in the show. I guess I should not be surprised, as I often feel this way at surveys like this such as the Whitney Biennial or the Brooklyn Museum’s Crossing Brooklyn show.

Museum of the City of New York | Stairwell B

April 26, 2015

I had come to the Museum of the City of New York to see two exhibits: EVERYTHING IS DESIGN: The Work of Paul Rand and SAVING PLACE: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks (both very impressive shows). But on my way out of the bathroom, I came upon a door that said THIS IS NEW YORK’S MOST EXCITING STAIRWELL, and I was hooked.

The Rubin Museum of Art | Becoming Another: the Power of Masks

April 19, 2015

I’ve always loved masks — growing up, Halloween was a favorite and the Mexican folk masks in the basement always intrigued me. So it’s no surprise that I was fascinated by this exhibit of about 100 masks from a variety cultures at the Rubin Museum of Art, from the museums own collection and loans from many other major museums.

Museum of Jewish Heritage | Andy Goldsworthy’s Garden of Stones

April 12, 2015

This past Sunday was such a sunny day I didn’t want to spend it inside a museum, but then I remembered this outdoor permanent installation I’ve been meaning to visit for years. Andy Goldsworthy had done the seemingly impossible — making trees grow out of the middle of bolders — as a metaphor for the survival and thriving of the Jewish people after the Holocaust.

China Institue Gallery | Mao’s Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution

March 31, 2015

This exhibit tells a story about events that challenges my imagination. It’s mango season, and in chinatown, they are selling for 3 for five dollars. I can hardly imagine a time and place where no one had seen a mango, but that is the least unusual part of the incredible, surreal tale documented in this exhibit.

Museum of Biblical Art | Sculpture in the Age of Donatello

March 22, 2015

This it the first time I’ve visited a small, niche museum and seen art of this caliber. This exhibit, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello — Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral consists of artwork on loan from the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (the Museum of the Duomo or Cathedral in Florence), which is currently closed for renovations. This is the only stop for this show, and it may well be the only time this work is ever shown in the United States.

Museum of the American Gangster

March 8, 2015

The Museum of the American Gangster, a two room museum in New York’s East Village, is a combination of a historic site (like the Mt. Vernon Hotel Museum) and a topical museum (like the New York Fire Museum). Part of the museum and its tour is about the building’s history as a speakeasy, and the rest is a general description of American gangsters during, and after, prohibition.

The Cleveland Museum of Art | Gallery One

February 27, 2015

When the Cleveland Museum of Art underwent a major renovation in 2013, they created Gallery One, blending art, technology and interpretation. Starting here, visitors explore the rest of the museum with a new appreciation. The goal is to have museum goers look closer at the artwork which they have already engaged with in Gallery One.

The Frick Collection

February 22, 2015

It is almost cliché to call The Frick a “jewel box” but that is the term that keeps coming to my mind. This mansion is filled with some of the greatest works by the “Old Masters”.

Museum of Mathematics

February 15, 2015

Since math consists of abstract concepts, the Museum of Mathematics can not show “math objects.” Instead, the exhibits are designed to demonstrate math in a way that will engage the visitor. To engage children, the primary visitors to the museum, most of the exhibits are hands-on, fun activities.

Museum of Interesting Things | Secret Speakeasy

February 1, 2015

Here I was in “the Secret Speakeasy,” an almost monthly loft party in Soho — this museum doesn’t have a permanent space. Often, curator/founder/MC Denny Daniels will bring his exhibits to you — he gets bookings at festivals, parties, public schools, and libraries. I got to pick one of the pieces on display from the museum’s websites, in an email exchange earlier the same day — all visitors were encouraged to participate by picking objects. This unique way of organizing a museum was almost as interesting at the “things” in it.

Jewish Museum | From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945 – 1952

January 30, 2015

This exhibit featured the work of two artists I knew very little about — which was sort of one of the points of the show: both had been overlooked by critics in their time, in part because she was a woman and because he was African-American.

New York Fire Museum

January 25, 2015

I enjoyed this museum as someone who’s a kid at heart, but also as a history buff, and as a fan of beautiful and off-beat objects.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum | Maira Kalman Selects

January 17, 2015

The newly renovated Cooper Hewitt, and this exhibit, is a favorite among all the museums I’ve visited to date – it left me wanting to go back for more.

American Museum of Natural History | Akeley Hall of African Mammals

January 14, 2015

Visiting the dioramas hits me on 3 levels — it allows me to imagine that I am in the African savanna, it brings back the wonder I felt visiting this museum as a kid, and it also gives insight into the role of museums in the early 20th century.

The Brooklyn Museum | Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn

January 3, 2015

This exhibit is a fascinating mashup of items selected from different areas of the museum’s permanent collection. Traditionally, encyclopedic museums organize their galleries by geography, culture or time period, emphasizing hierarchical taxonomies and identifying distinctions or differences as a key to understanding (for instance galleries for the arts of Africa, ancient Egyptian galleries, Renaissance sculpture galleries, and Modern and Contemporary art galleries). While much of the Brooklyn museum is also organized in this way, this exhibit takes a very 21st century approach of emphasizing connecting rather than dividing. This is puts the curators less in the position of telling the history of objects and more asking the viewer what they see as similar and different between these objects from different times and places.

Dennis Severs’ House

December 28, 2014

Dennis Severs called this house a “still-life drama”. He meticulously furnished each room to tell the story of a family of silk-weavers from 1724 through 1914, and set it up as if you are entering a lived in space which the inhabitants had left minutes before.

Geffrye Museum of the Home |Christmas Past

December 24, 2014

The Geffrye Museum of the Home features of 11 parlor rooms of middle class London families from different periods in the last 400 years. It shows the history of design, as well as the evolution the “middlings” — the growing class of merchants, doctors and lawyers. This time of year, each room was decorated for Christmas.


December 14, 2014

In Tribeca, around the corner from the old Mudd Club on White Street, is Courtland Alley — one of the only back alleys in Manhattan. And in a freight elevator in that alley is Mmuseumm, the smallest museum in New York.

The National September 11 Museum

December 6, 2014

Entering the museum, I immediately started choking up, and I knew that this would affect me in a way I’ve never been affected by any museums I’d visited. There were even tissue dispensers installed at particularly intense spots in the exhibits. I didn’t need them, but only because I had my own.

Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden

November 29, 2014

Across from two 42 story black glass apartment buildings, down the block from Bed Bath and Beyond, and in the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge, this house from the 1800’s stands out like a sore thumb on this block, near 61st Street and Sutton Place on the Upper East Side.Whenever I’ve passed this building, I’ve wondered about it, and this week was my opportunity to visit.

Nasher Sculpture Center | Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio

November 25, 2014

The first thing you see coming into this exhibit is a massive machine over 10 feet tall with rolls of paper and a crank that dispenses a gallery handout for you to tear off. Turning that crank, I knew immediately that this was going to be my next blog post.

American Folk Art Museum | Willem van Genk: Mind Traffic

November 18, 2014

One of the joys of art is that it allows us to see things with fresh eyes, and that is certainly the case with folk artists such as Willem van Genk.

National Museum of the American Indian in New York | For a Love of His People: The Photography of Horace Poolaw

November 12, 2014

The photos in this exhibit show Native Americans from Oklahoma in the 1920’s-1960’s in ways that upend my expectations — the people in these photos are not the noble savage or the victim of of repression.

Asia Society New York | Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot

November 2, 2014

Nam June Paik embraces technology so fully that many of his artworks are as technologically innovative as they are avant-garde.

New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex | Traveling in the World of Tomorrow: the Future of Transportation at New York’s World’s Fairs

October 27, 2014

Worlds fairs, trains, planes, ships, automobiles, what’s not to love? The transit museums’ exhibits are often aimed at the kid in us when they aren’t for kids, and this one was no exception. There have been a number of exhibits and events for the 50th anniversary of the 1965 worlds fair, and this one concentrated on transportation. By juxtaposing the exhibits from the 1939 world’s fair, this show demonstrated the shifting ideas about the future.

Museum of American Finance | The Fed at 100

October 20, 2014

This week I visited the MoAF, and it got me thinking about how it is a different type of museum. Other museums I’ve visited also have a primarily education mission, but here very few of the objects it displays are picked for their esthetic value or even their value as curiosities (they don’t have the Hudson School paintings or the Audubons of the New-York Historical Society) or the interactive recreations of the physical world of a science museum.

MoMA | Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

October 9, 2014

Seeing this show demonstrated to me why museums have nothing to fear from the internet — while I am familiar with these images, it was a whole new experience seeing them in person. In photos the cut-outs are pretty much indistinguishable from the lithos that some of these were made into, and only in person could I see the discreet pieces of cutout paper.

International Center of Photography | Sebastião Salgado: Genesis

October 5, 2014

Sebastião Salgado’s beautiful black-and-white images have important implied message about the danger man presents to these pristine scenes. The show’s opening was timed to be part of Climate Week, which in turn was timed for the UN Climate Summit on Sept 23rd.

Metropolitan Museum of Art | NYC Museum Media Lab Meetup

September 28, 2014

This week I didn’t just go look at an exhibit, but I participated. Every month or so, Don Undeen opens the Met Media Lab to the tech and arts communities to experiment with using the museum’s content with technology.

Troll Museum | 14 Year Anniversary Art Show

September 20, 2014

A few blocks from the Tenement Museum in the lower east side, an actual 6 story walkup has been transformed into a museum with hundreds of Troll Dolls, as well as art about said Trolls.

New-York Historical Society | A Brief History of New York: Selections from A History of New York in 101 Objects

September 12, 2014

This small exhibit was intriguing — it took the concept of the historical museum, which illustrates history with objects, and blew it up, by starting with the objects and telling the whole history of New York.

MAD Museum | NYC Makers — The MAD Biennial

September 5, 2014

The Mad Museum is one of my favorite museums — their embrace of art, craft and “maker” technology hits a sweet spot with me, as does the post-modern mashup of styles of many of their artists. I was excited to see their first Maker Biennial.

Queens Museum | Bringing the World into the World

August 30, 2014

This show’s overarching theme covered several exhibits relating conceptually to the New York City panorama and to the World’s Fairs at this site.