Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Museum Mondays

Manhattan's home to nearly 200 museums.  Running from 82nd to 105th Street, there's even a section of Fifth Avenue called Museum Mile.  Being a total sucker for antiques, paintings, and awkward artifacts, I'm trying to see as many as possible with my few months left. So, from this pint forward, Manic Mondays are my  Museum Monday.  To start with, yesterday I hit up the Museum of the City of New York.  Nestled on the corner of 102nd and 5th Avenue, I'd often overlooked it in favor of others in the area, but Sunday night I'd read an article about their new exhibit dedicated to New York Housing.

Staffed with some of the sweetest seniors around, the museum is really a gem!

The basement shows off toys from yesteryear.  Of course, there's your typical cars and whatnot, but being your typical girl, I especially loved the Stettheimer Dollhouse.  For more than two decades Carrie and Florine Stettheimer decorated the 12 room dollhouse with little luxuries. Evoking the elegant and eclectic tastes of the avant-garde 1920s, each of the tiny rooms even features a collection of original artwork on a miniature scale by artists of the sisters.
This definitely beats my Playskool model from the early '90s. 
The ground floor is divided to two exhibits. The first features lots of lithographs from Nathaniel Currier's 50 year career.  From 1857 to 1907, his company generated over 7000 titles.  With scenes like skating, sleighing, and cozy homesteads, the images showcase a romantic and largely idealistic view of New York City before the days of massive skyscrapers, each under a thick blanket of snow.
I really loved this image of Moonlight Skating on the Central Park Terrace. 
And, this one at the southeast corner of Central Park features the first organized ice-skating rink in the United States.   On winter wonderland days, crowds of 75,000 to 100,000 people would flock to the frozen lake.  Finding this image such a great representation of old NYC money, I even bought a print of this image in the gift shop.  
Look familiar?  Here's a oil portrait by Carton Moore-Park depicting Washington Square Park in the early 20th century.  I especially like the horse-drawn carriage heading to the arch. 
Next, there's a wing called Designing Tomorrow:  America's World's Fairs of the 1930s.  Loving all things vintage, I especially enjoyed this room!  Old newsreels play, and revolutionary consumer products (like the dishwasher) are on display, giving visitors a peek into fairs tens of millions of Americans visited during the worst economic crisis the country had known.

Talk about an awesome piece of architecture!   The National Cash Register Building was a key feature at the 1939 New York City World's Fair. 
The City's never been known as a place where people keep their opinions to themselves. So, a second floor exhibit--NYC Activist--explores 14 moments of social activism of both the past and present.  From Women's Suffrage to the Stonewall Riots, they've got it all.

Like I said before, the Museum's third floor was the real reason for my visit.  Making Room:  New Models for Housing New Yorkers presents an array of innovative architectural solutions that could better accommodate the City's emerging housing needs.  It all starts with surprising statistics.  For instance, did you know 33% of NYC households are single people living alone?  It's a bit scary because only 15% of Manhattan's rental housing stock is a studio or one-bedroom apartment ready for occupation.  Another section shows what it would be like to live in a full-scale micro apartment.  Only 325 square feet, the entire apartment reminds me of Ikea's miniature models.
Talk about your minimalist living! 
On display until September 15th, I'd suggest every Manhattanite take a trip to see the future of city living.

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