Monday, March 2, 2015

NYC Life: Museum of the City of New York




Since I've been here a year I don't think I qualify as a "new" New Yorker anymore. Well according to F, I will always be a new New Yorker since I'm not a native, but let's not get bogged down with semantics.

New York seemingly constantly produces new and exciting things to do. Even lifetime New Yorkers STILL discover new things about their city, so it's no surprise that I still have a fairly long list of places and experiences in front of me.

One of the ones I recently crossed off is Museum of the City of New York (5th avenue between 103rd and 104th streets on the Upper East Side). It's a small, modern museum and full of some great exhibits that explore NYC's history. MOCNY offers free admission to teachers, Columbia University and NYU students, city employees, AAM (American Association of Museums) members, employees of other museums, and active military. They also offer free admission to "neighbors" -people that live and work within a certain radius of the museum.

The museum has both permanent and rotating exhibits. I was able to see four: Gilded New York, Assembled Realities, Activist New York, and Mac Conner: A New York Life on my visit.

Activist New York 
While I knew in a general way that the history of activism in New York was both extensive and diverse, I didn't know any of the details. Activist New York was a fascinating exhibit, full of primary source documents, photos, video, and artifacts from social movements dating from the 1600s. The first movement profiled, the fight for religious freedom, took place in Flushing when John Bowne attempted to protect the Quakers from expulsion! Very cool. The rest of the exhibit dealt with Tenement healthcare projects, women's rights, socialism, the Civil Rights Movement, gay rights, environmentalism, and more up through the modern day. It was really well done and worth the visit by itself. I would love to go back with my students.












Assembled Realities
This exhibit was truly stunning, the artist takes hundreds of individual shots of well-known scenes and splices them together to make hyper-detailed images. I don't have the words to explain just how amazing the images were, and my "photos of photos" don't do them justice. His work is just gorgeous. This is another exhibit that alone is worth the trip and admission to see.







Gilded New York
The Gilded Age was the topic of study in 8th grade history this past few weeks, and getting to see some of the artifacts in person was really cool! The plush, decadent exhibit space is filled with jewelry, clothing, paintings, and home goods from the gilded age. Seeing such opulence up close and personal made it very real.








Mac Conner: A New York Life
This was the last exhibit I saw, and one that I enjoyed but didn't love. Mad Men fans would be all over it, though! The original art, by Mac Conner, was used to accompany short romantic stories in magazines. Later, the art expanded and was used for other purposes. I did a quick walk through and enjoyed the pieces I saw. The actual exhibit space was beautiful. It was all white with high ceilings and an airy feel.




Overall the Museum of the City of New York is well worth the trip! Don't miss Activist New York -it's a permanent exhibit and well worth a visit!

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