Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Short Time in the Big Apple: Uptown

By Jeff Burns

My wife and I made a quick trip to New York City during winter break, and since it was February, we decided to make it as indoors as possible, concentrating on museum visits. We got a good deal on a hotel on 7th Avenue, near Times Square and conveniently located near several subway stops.   We packed so much into our few days that we were exhausted; we needed a vacation from our vacation.  There’s just so much for history lovers to do and to see!

So, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, and the American Folk Art Museum will just have to wait until a future trip, but we did spend a Morning at the Museum – the American Museum of Natural History. Like most museums in NYC, it opens late, 10 AM, but my advice is to get there early.  When the doors opened this day, there were probably a hundred people gathered at the door and lines going down the street in both directions.  As the morning passed, it got extremely crowded. 

While none of the exhibits came to life while we were there, there is so much life to see in he museum that you could spend days if you wanted.  There are the dinosaurs, of course, including the brand new titanosaur. There are the halls and halls of animal, plant, and mineral specimens.  There are the anthropological and archaeological collections that represent cultures from around the globe.  It’s always a thrill for a teacher to see objects up close that they’ve seen in textbooks. While it’s true that most of the exhibits and spaces look they haven’t changed in a hundred years, the AMNH is a classic.

The afternoon was for MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art again, crowded.  Is there any place in NYC that’s not? We’re not generally modern art fans, so we made a quick trip through the most current exhibition, the highlight of which was a video look of recent transgender Eurovision song contest winner  Conchita Wurst gesturing slowly and looking into the camera. However, MOMA has one of the greatest collections of works representing the late 19th century and 20th century:  impressionism, post impressionism, expressionism, abstract, surrealism, cubism, dada etc.  If you know works by Dali, Picasso, Chagall, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Miro, Van Gogh, Monet, Warhol, or Brancusi, chances are that they are from the permanent collection of MOMA. I incorporate a lot of art in my history classes, and art is a major area of study for my quiz bowl team, so it’s a real thrill for me to see these great works in person.

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