Tag Archives: New York

365 Places: Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

Day 62: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY, United States of America

Today I build on my earlier posts about iconic NYC sites, Times Square and the Guggenheim Museum, by exploring another famous New York attraction – the Metropolitan Museum of Art, known affectionately as the Met.

When I travelled to NYC in 1997, I spent two days wandering around the Met  – as one day was not enough to see all the vast collections and galleries of this museum.

Image Credit: http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/visitor-tips-and-policies
Image Credit: http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/plan-your-visit/visitor-tips-and-policies

The museum’s permanent collection is massive, with artefacts from a range of significant periods in human history and a broad spectrum of cultures. There are many objects from Egyptian, Greek and Roman eras, as well as precious objects from Medieval times and paintings from the Baroque, Renaissance and Rococo periods of European art. Most of the cultures of the world are also represented with galleries focusing on Asian, Islamic and Melanesian art and artefacts.

The collection which I found most awesome in terms of size and scale was the Egyptian collection, which has case after case of precious objects. The website says:

The Museum’s collection of ancient Egyptian art consists of approximately twenty-six thousand objects of artistic, historical, and cultural importance, dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period (ca. 300,000 B.C.–A.D. 4th century). More than half of the collection is derived from the Museum’s thirty-five years of archaeological work in Egypt, initiated in 1906 in response to increasing Western interest in the culture of ancient Egypt.

Here is an image of part of a pyramid that has been constructed inside the museum. This object for me was quite confronting as it represented so clearly that this culture and history had been removed from the original source of meaning. Of course, this could be said about so much of the collection at the Met, which leads one to consider whether the collections were founded by ethical means. Perhaps, for me there was a heightened awareness of the ethical dimension of the collection, given the context of the First People of Australia; as so many precious cultural objects and even human remains were taken without permission to be housed in collections around the world.

Image Credit: http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/egyptian-art
Image Credit: http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/museum-departments/curatorial-departments/egyptian-art

In the contemporary 21st century, indeed the role of collections like this are important as educational tools, but it is also necessary to consider how the collections were built in the first place. Ethical questioning aside, a trip to the Met is a very worthwhile day out, if only to be stunned by the sheer scale of this museum and its objects.

365 Places: Times Square, NYC

Day 61: Times Square, New York City, NY, United States of America

In my earlier post about the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, I talked about my fascination for this city.

When I stayed in NYC, I stayed in a hostel on 45th Street, The Big Apple Hostel, which was just around the corner from Times Square, a site that attracted me for its role in so many films I had seen growing up.

Image Credit: Alberto Carrasco Casado  Manhattan-Times square, US (1997) (analog photography) https://www.flickr.com/photos/albertocarrasco/6546098263/
Image Credit: Alberto Carrasco Casado
Manhattan-Times square, US (1997) (analog photography) https://www.flickr.com/photos/albertocarrasco/6546098263/

One of the films that impacted me greatly was a 1980 film of the same name – Times Square. The story is about two girls who become friends and start a punk band. One of the girls is a street kid and the other one is from a wealthy background. At the time, I was a young teenager myself and the energy of the music, the story of the girls and the city itself captured me.

To walk around Times Square is like being in a film, there are people everywhere, the lights flash brightly, yellow taxis flood the streets and the steam rises from the pavement.

Mr Wikipedia says that:

Times Square is a major commercial intersection and a neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at the junction of Broadway (now converted into a pedestrian plaza) and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Times Square – iconified as “The Crossroads of the World”,”The Center of the Universe”, and the “The Great White Way” – is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theater District, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world’s entertainment industry.

According to Travel + Leisure magazine Times Square is the world’s most visited tourist attraction, hosting over 39 million visitors annually.

I understand that in 2009, Times Square is now primarily a pedestrian only area, which would make it an even more entrancing place to visit. Maybe it is time to go back.

For more information check out the Times Square Alliance website, or drop in virtually via the Times Square cam.

365 Places: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Day 60: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, United States of America

Today, I want to share a favourite place from a journey I took many years ago – to New York City (NYC). Back in 1997, I spent a couple of weeks in NYC and Buffalo, in upstate New York. It was my first journey to the USA and the first time I had travelled without my son, who was four years old at the time. For over a week, I traipsed around NYC, discovering the places that already seemed so familiar to me.

When I was growing up, I daydreamed about visiting this city: the colourful lights of Times Square, the steam rising from the footpath, Central Park and the many, many art galleries, museums and theatres. For some reason I was especially drawn to the architecture of the city, which seemed so futuristic, sleek and modern.

Image Credit: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/about/frank-lloyd-wright-building
Image Credit: http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/about/frank-lloyd-wright-building

One of the places that I think is very special in NYC is the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Designed by the great Frank Lloyd Wright, the buildings curved edges and spiral like design reflects both organic forms and modernist aesthetics. This text is from the website:

Even as it embraced nature, Wright’s design also expresses his unique take on modernist architecture’s rigid geometry. The building is a symphony of triangles, ovals, arcs, circles, and squares. Forms echo one another throughout: oval-shaped columns, for example, reiterate the geometry of the fountain and the stairwell of the Thannhauser Building. Circularity is the leitmotif, from the rotunda to the inlaid design of the terrazzo floors.

To walk through the building certainly makes you aware of the spiralling, circular nature of the structure. As you wind your way up the walkway, you can look at the art along the walls while being absorbed by the beauty of the geometrical forms of the building itself.

Image Credit: http://media.guggenheim.org/
Image Credit: http://media.guggenheim.org/

The art collection at the Guggenheim has all manner of modernist artworks and started out as the combination of a number of private collections. Over the years the collection has continued to grow, incorporating works from the 20th and 21st centuries. The website tells this story about the history of the collections development.

The story of the Guggenheim Museum is essentially the story of several very different private collections. Central among these are Solomon R. Guggenheim’s collection of nonobjective painting premised on a belief in the spiritual dimensions of pure abstraction; his niece Peggy Guggenheim’s collection of abstract and Surrealist painting and sculpture; Justin K. Thannhauser’s array of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early modern masterpieces; and Count Giuseppe Panza di Biumo’s vast holdings of European and American Minimalist, Post-Minimalist, Environmental, and Conceptual art. These collections have been augmented over the last two decades by major gifts from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and The Bohen Foundation, as well as by the series of contemporary art commissions that was made possible by the Guggenheim’s unique partnership with Deutsche Bank for the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, the distinct but complementary acquisitions program of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative. Together with numerous other important purchases and gifts secured by the Guggenheim’s directors and curators over the years, these acquisitions have contributed to the formation of a richly layered, international collection dating from the late 19th-century to the present.

Unlike most institutions dedicated to the visual arts, the Guggenheim does not divide itself into departments devoted to specific mediums or eras. Rather, the collection is conceived as an integrated whole that may be continuously enhanced in response to emerging talent as well as a mandate to fill in critical historical gaps.

Located on the upper east side on 5th Avenue (at 89th Street), it is worth walking up from mid-town just to check out the swish apartments and lifestyles of the rich and famous along the way.