Category Archives: museums

Museum News from the Banbury Area

It’s all happening at museums in the Banbury area lately (and as a museum-lover, this pleases me).

To find out more, head over to The Banburian and see all the Museum news for the Banbury area.

Virtual Sightseeing: Museums on Pinterest

Perhaps you’ve noticed – there’s WEATHER happening. Lots of it. Quite a lot of it is the kind that can mess up flight schedules and none of it the kind of weather you really want to go out into. This means some considerable down time indoors at home. Which is great. For a while. But if you’re like me, cabin fever can start setting in after a few days and the weather doesn’t seem to care. The (insert either rain | snow | polar vortex ) continues. But never fear, I’ve got another great round up of links designed to help you make a virtual visit to the Big Apple.

This time around it’s museums. I know we’ve touched on museums before (see below) but that was some time ago and since then, quite of few of the greatest Gotham museums have made excellent use of Pinterest and that’s what I’ve got for you today. You can really explore so much – all without putting on 10 layers of clothes and risking frozen / soggy limbs.

But it’s not only New York City Museums making a splash on Pinterest. No, museums all over the world and specializing in an incredible number of fields have got boards worth browsing. Check out some of the ones I’ve listed below – or hop on over to Pinterest and peruse the search results for “museums”

  • Don’t we all feel better that we live in a world that HAS a Button Art Museum?
  • San Diego Air and Space Museum – which frankly I’d never heard of. This might be because I grew up in Houston and all we heard about was the Johnson Space Center (which was fab).
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – just one of the many museums that make up the Smithsonian as a whole
  • J. Paul Getty Museum – which I confess I visited one and found less than thrilling. The Pinterest boards however are really compelling. Maybe it’s just because I’m not being blinded by white stone everytime I turn around. Or – maybe it’s because the collection is organized better on this platform than in person. Just my personal opinion. Your mileage may vary. Lots of people love the Getty.
  • Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • Cars are not necessarily my thing (what I don’t know about engines, horsepower, torque etc could fill VOLUMES) but I know what I like and it’s usually based on comfort and style – the latter on magnificent display on the Pinterest boards of the Mercedes-Benz Museum
  • I could (and probably should) do an entire round up of the media channels for the Smithsonian Museum as a whole. The breadth and scale of it is amazing – 19 separate museums, some with multiple locations. This main Smithsonian Pinterest account highlights specific events, collections and exhibits across the Institute. One of my favorite specific ones is the Pinterest boards from the Archives of American Art section.

 


 

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Virtual Visit Home: An Online Weekend In NYC

As you may or may not know, I no longer live in NYC. After 23 years (21 of those in the same apartment), I moved overseas and have been training my Gotham Girl eye on the UK and Europe ever since. But this doesn’t mean I don’t miss my NYC weekends. Sometimes I get a wee bit homesick for long walks through Hudson Park and I miss popping into the Metropolitan Museum of Art simply because I happen to be walking past. Luckily the internet has an answer for that – and I don’t even have to go through airport security to get there

My intention is to visit whenever I can – catch up with friends, see what’s worth seeing at my old haunts. But it’s not the same as being able to just wake up and decide to wander over to see what’s what in the Central Library Rotunda. That said – a darned good placeholder for that feeling is doing a virtual weekend. I skype with friends (time zones mean they are having coffee while I have a quick bite of lunch – sort of like brunch) and then I “wander” over to the Met or the NYPL to see what’s there. And virtual wandering is now more like an actual visit than ever. It’s more than just going to a museum’s website or their “online gallery” space. Now social media savvy institutions have a range of media channels – You Tube, Pintrest, Facedbook, Twitter – in addition to their online home. What this means for the virtual visitor is a more robust, more “just like being there” visit. Of course it’s not JUST like being there but I have to be honest – in some ways, I like it better. No crowds, no worry about whether I can get to the lecture in time.

I’ll still be heading to these places when I get back but I don’t have to miss them quite so much thanks to the links below.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – yes, one of the most famous and most often visited museums in the world. Also just a short walk from home for much of my time in Manhattan. For two years, I was 2 blocks from this iconic spot and even when I moved, I was only 12 blocks or so. I was there constantly and I still am in many ways, thanks to the Met’s array of online outlets.  Quite apart from their presence on the social media channels – for the virtual visitor, the wonderful MetMedia section of their website is NOT to be missed.

The New York Public Library not only houses one of the most beautiful reading rooms in the world, they stage some of the best exhibits in the city and do it extraordinarily well. I’ve given their YouTube channel a big thumbs up previously and it’s still awesome. But the truth is that they have made the library, its spaces and its collections accessible across so many channels that I’ve seen and experienced more of the NYPL since I left than I did when I lived in NYC.

The Guggenheim in New York has an impressive array of online communities and channels to keep folks informed about exhibits, to engage in conversations about art in public spaces, demonstrate a bit of what goes on “behind the scenes” – even keep note of changes on their cafe menus. A full list can be found here on their website. I encourage you to check them out. Not only because the Guggenheim is worth a visit, virtual or otherwise – but because it’s great to see a venerable institution go full throttle with robust use of social media . In the meantime, some of the outlets for the main museum are:

The High Line, which I first walked the day after it opened and which I have walked many days since, really owes much of its existence to the social media savvy folks behind it. They shot videos, showed the potential, spread the word and got people excited. People became invested with the idea being presented and updates and progress reports were regularly put up so the folks who were excited stayed that way. Now – with the opening of the last segment, the High Line’s online presence remains strong so while I can’t always be there to wake in the changes and the views in person – I can keep up with what they are doing, who they are hosting and take a “stroll” of my own.

Another of my favorite parks is Hudson River Park. It is, according to its website, at 5 miles the longest waterfront park in the United States – a fact I didn’t know but my feet probably could have told me as I’d walked the length of it several times.  It used to be a string of decaying piers, municipal storage areas and parking lots on the west side. Now it is a place to walk, picnic, play, explore, cycle, kayak, run, eat, visit and enjoy. There are has rarely been money SO well spent on a public space.

Even places like the Empire State Building (a regular stop for me whenever showing guests about town), have taken to a bit of online outreach. Bonus? Looking on their facebook page, I now know what the various colors on various nights means. I knew the OBVIOUS ones but sometimes you can’t help wonder.

More to come soon – including more parks, restaurants, and other places one might find me on any given weekend in NYC

Behind Normally Closed Doors

I’m very much enjoying exploring me new stomping grounds here in the UK (more on this later) but it does means that I am missing the 2012 edition of Summer Restaurant Week. For those of you who are on the ground to take advantage of it, it’s been extended through September 3 so if you thought you’d missed your chance to try that new pricey place you’d always wanted to try – go for it!  I’m also gonna miss openhousenewyork (OHNY) in Oct 6 but I shall make a point of checking out the event that inspired it – Open House London (Sept 22-23).

It’s not just NYC and London that have this type of event. According to information on the OHNY site, Open House Worldwide is a sort of umbrella network of similar efforts, including (apart from Open House London and OHNY) Open House Dublin, Open House Tel Aviv, Open House Jerusalem, Open House Melbourne, Open House Galway, Open House Barcelona, Open House Slovenia, Open House Chicago, Open House Rome, and Open House Helsinki. New cities seem to be getting added all the time (Perth, Lisbon and Adelaide were just getting underway from a planning standpoint recently) so keep an eye out – you just may get a chance to grab a peek at otherwise hidden local architectural gems near you.

 

 

Spatial Relations Around Town

Growing Governors Island: well, it’s true that NYC cares more than the state and will do more, move faster etc. I do have concerns about some of these ideas however.  For some reason, I thought the city already had control of the island which is why they were doing all that stuff on the far end. Oh well – I was wondering when the Island opening was and looks like it will be: Friday to Sunday from June 5th to October 10th this year. Is ti just me or does that sound like a late opening?

More Whitney, more better? What? Wait – so they really are planning a building right next to the southern tip of the High Line? Bleah. Look, I’m all about them dealing with their space problem (and it IS a problem as anyone who has visited the Whitney in the past – oh – decade can say).  I don’t even think a second location is a bad idea but does it have to come smack up against the High Line? There’s nothing else – no other building – down there (and I see why the Whitney would want a location in that area) they could use? And yes, I know the early illustrations of the park had a building indicated there but when the park opened, it wasn’t there and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Bloomberg, Brooklyn, Books, Boris

mayoral debate this evening – Bloomberg advised not to roll his eyes in annoyance or sigh in frustration. Thompson advised to wear name tag.

fleshNew York author Laura Anne Gilman has a new title out. Flesh & Fire is the first in the exciting new Vineart series. Wine, magic, history – a highly potent mix and bound to be heady fun. You can get your own copy (and get a jump on holiday shopping – books are easy to wrap too!) at any of the following:

Museums facing tough choices: I’ve been thinking about museums lately as I prepare a new installment of Gotham Girl in London.

Have you checked out the previous “episodes?” If not – go on over to Boris’ site and see what I have to say on traffic and transit in NY and in London, or the street food experience or the trip from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

Wow! I’m not sure how one paints a house this size this color “by accident” – surely as soon as one opens the paint can, the color is apparent. And yet – it IS bold.

pink_house

Musuem of Munchies?

I have thrown open the windows of the apartment and am enjoying the cool, relaxing temperatures of the morning. But that’s not what I am here to discuss today. Actually, it’s not so much a discussion as a drive by hot tip.

I have just discovered that there is a NY Food Museum. Now, you might think – hello? you have two blogs – one on food and this one on NYC. How could you not have known there was a NY Food Museum. Well, in my defense – um – well, look. It’s only 10 or so years old and has no permanent home. No? Not buying it. Never mind. I’m telling you now.

NY Food Museum. Great stuff. Their mission is to “To encourage people to think about the food they eat.” I love that mission.  One of their upcoming events:  9th Annual NYC  International Pickle Day  (10/4/09). OK, I admit to not being a pickle fan but it sounds like a blast.

There is also a New York Museum of Water that can fill you in on what’s in that water you are drinking.  Do I want to know? I mean – after years of drinking the water in Houston (where ice cubes periodically ended up smelling like sulfur), I’m finally able NOT to think about it too much.

Romping With Rogues

grossI love a good local history and at the moment, I am current reading Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret History of the Mogul and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum by Michael Gross.  Gross’ name may ring a bell if you read 740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building (which I didn’t but which a lot of people did).  I gather that 740 Park (much hyped) underwhelmed a lot of people andit seems, from the reader reviews I’ve read and some of the actual reviews – that those people went into the book expecting something else.  I don’t know what.  I mean – I know the book is touted as “social history” but come on – something like that is bound to be more hardcover gossip column in the end.

So it didn’t surprise me that this was the distinct impression I am getting from Rogues’ Gallery. And that’s fine because that’s what I expected. I didn’t expect a detailed, scholarly work on the history of the Metropolitan Museum. After all, Rogues’ is only 560 pages long. How on earth could you do a thorough job of such a subject in only 560 pages. Even the Met can’t do it. They have volumes and volumes. And though many of those volumes are worthy and informative, none of them as entertaining.

The thing that strikes me about the negative reviews of Rogues’ that I have seen is that they seem to be disappointed that there isn’t more about the actual ART in the book. I wonder if they haven’t rather missed the point. It’s not about the art. It isn’t actually pretending to be about the art. There are, in fact, some levels at which the Metropolitan Museum isn’t about the art. Read the subtitle again. “The Secret History of the Mogul and the Money that Made the Metropolitan Museum.” Makes it pretty clear that this isn’t primarily about the paintings and the statues

I am enjoying this hardcover gossip romp and I don’t care who knows it. More when I finish.

Gotham Site Seeing

With the job market getting everyone down (especially for my many peeps in the publishing industry who are still reeling), I thought a little break from the real world was in order. Maybe we can’t take a real vacation right now but a little online sight seeing (which I think of as “site seeing”) never hurt anyone and costs nothing.

And so we begin with a quick trip into the past. If you don’t know about Flickr Commons and you fancy yourself a history buff – get on over there and wallow in the image collections.

  • One of my favorites is “Changing New York” from the New York Public Library. It is 160 photos by Berenice Abbott taken between 1935-1938.
  • The Brooklyn Museum is also one of the Commons Participating Institutions and they have a wonderful collection (or series of collections) tracing the evolution of Coney Island — Goodbye Coney Island.
  • And before we leave the Commons to venture further afield, I must suggest checking out the George Eastman House’s collection called George P. Hall & Son. This was a Manhattan based photography studio that operated 1886 through 1914 and this collection is of some of the many views of New York City they produced at the turn of the century.

Maybe delving into the past isn’t your thing or you see yourself more as Design Diva than History Buff. That’s OK. There’s a site seeing to suit you as well. Besides, even the New York Times knows that design thrives in hard times. Design Sponge (one of my favorite design blogs and one I am constantly found to be perusing) has a series of Design Guides to various cities around the world. Their New York-centric guides are outstanding, informative and downright gorgeous. Not one guide. Not two guides. But four! Four guides to design in the Big Apple and surrounding area.

Maybe you want a bit more virtual reality in your site seeing. We’ve got that covered as well. You can try Virtual NYC Tour where they have several neighborhoods on offer or wander over to the The City Parks Department website where they have he Bronx River Virtual Tour or the tour of the John Muir Nature Trail in Van Cortlandt Park.

So if you find yourself in need of a break and want to get your mind off the dour economy, the rising prices or seemingly endless downers from the news media – consider a quick e-vacation to Gotham. Distractions galore, all without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Holiday Giving Gotham-Style

rock_tree.jpgSilver bells
Silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city….

Oops! Sorry. I tend to spontaneously burst into seasonal song these days. Not out on the streets or anything. Just at home when puttering about, folding items to be taken to Housing Works or trying to remember where I put those holiday cards I got such a deal on last January. The reason I tend to carol this time of year, I tend to be caught up in activities I only find myself doing at this time of year.

This is the time of year I gather up my offering for the New York Cares Annual Coat Drive. Each December I take the coats out of the closet and give each one a long hard look. I put them on, facing up to the fact that it no longer fits — or worse that it didn’t fit last year either and despite promises to self, I didn’t lose enough weight to change the truth of the matter. Or maybe it does fit but it is one of three almost identical coats. I can’t help it. I see a great price on yet another single breasted car coat and I think, “Well, it’s not exactly like the others. This one goes all the way down to my knees.”

Anyway, I got the coat cull out of the way this week. Pulled them out, sorted them into two piles (no ‘maybe next year coats this time around): keep and give. The give pile, I am happy to report, was quite substantial this year. So I folded them up, put them in my oversize grocery cart (one of the greatest possessions a New Yorker can have) and trundled off to my local police station (the nearest drop off point for the coat drive). The men in blue are always gracious and entertaining when one enters laden with coats. Last year two of them began trying the coats on – and may I say that it is not every beat cop that can get away with a deep purple swing with dolman sleeves.

Still on the “gently used” portion of the list is packing up my donation for Housing Works I meant to do it earlier – along side the coat sorting – but then it realized that I might want to add a few more things so I put it off a bit. I plan to finish going through The Back Closet (and if you’d ever seen it, you’d know why it was Title Caps) by the end of the weekend. Actually, I’ve got quite a lot of non-clothing things as well and if I can get enough of them sorted out, I may have them come pick it all up. I mean, if it’s just clothes they won’t do a pick up (and frankly I can get them there just fine). But maybe some of these other “Lord, why on earth am I keeping this silly thing” items can be used by someone else. I can’t quite recall why I felt I needed a rice cooker but once the joy of it’s arrival wore off, it went to live in the back of the furthest kitchen cabinet and I haven’t opened it (much less used it) since.

The other reason to get down to Housing Works and donate is to do a little shopping. What? Just a little shopping. It is, after all, the holidays. And they sometimes have really cute stuff. And the bookstore? One of the best! Oh and you can shop housing works online now.

snow.jpgAnother great annual city tradition is the door staff holiday bonuses. Last year, I put together my “Tips on Holiday Tips” to address this ritual – this delicate dance of envelopes, diplomacy, and hard cold cash – that for some reason gives many New York City apartment dwellers an anxiety attack. It became a very popular landing point on the blog. It has been again this year so it occurs to me that people are still struggling with what to give, when to give and of course, how much to give. I suspect in these current economic climes, how much to give the doorman and/or your building super looms large in everyone’s worried mind.

My advice remains the same – you know what these guys have done (or haven’t done) for you all year. I know the economy sucks right now but if these guys went out of their way for you back in April when that couch you ordered almost didn’t fit through the doorjamb – they deserve more than a holiday card with a “Maybe Next Year” where the cash used to be. Did they look the other way all summer (while your wife and kids were out in the Hamptons) each time you came home accompanied by your “niece?* “Consider that your wife and kids are now home and have much more face time with these Up To Know Silent Gatekeepers.

I don’t mean to say that your building staff will turn on you or anything if you stiff them. But you might notice the dry cleaning takes a little longer to get to you or your packages might end up under something else for a day or so. Such a shame when that happens but what can you do? It’s a busy time of year.

But let’s not end on what nervous note. Let’s consider some of the best and most holiday-infused of New York’s great holiday traditions

  • the Rockefeller Center Tree: all lit up and waiting for you to come and shove your way through the massive crowds to gaze upon it. Not only that but on December 13th, a mass of tuba players will be there as well
  • The Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Sitting gorgeously in the Medieval Hall, surrounded by Gregorian chants and bathed in warm light, the tree and its surrounding wait to welcome those who thought better of going to the Rockefeller Center Tree and who have a more delicate design sensibility (besides, the gift shop at the museum has some great holiday stuff and this year the discounting has started earlier than usual).
  • The Ceremony of Carols at St. John the Divine: I know this piece of music is not for everyone but there are times during the piece that it is like listening to a vocal version of renaissance tumblers. It falls on the ears in a cascade and sweeps over you. Marvelous. And in such a magnificent space, the sound is even more impressive.
  • The Nostalgia Train – yes, go back in time riding in Vintage subway cars along the V line. With luck, you’ll get on one of the cars from the 1930s! Depression era subway cars. Just what the doctor ordered with recession looming. Hmmm. Maybe that’s not the way to look at it. Oh I know. Think of the show Annie. Yes, the one where she sings about ‘Tomorrow’ and the orphans are mysteriously well fed. After all, it all takes place during the Depression and right around Christmas.  So go on! Deck your kids out like orphans, teach them the words to ‘Hard Knock Life.’ I’m sure your fellow riders will love it.

* what? oh, come on. you know it happens. or if you don’t you’ve never been down in the lobby when these guys come in – a hilarious combination of slinking and cock-walking. Or maybe it’s like people having affairs with the doorstaff. It may be more an East Side thing than a West Side one.