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This article by Pat Summers was prepared for the December 4, 2002
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
MoMA: Mother of Modern Art
Who knows how widely "MoMA" — the nickname for New
York’s Museum of Modern Art that rhymes with "coma" —
has been seen or thought of as "Mama" or "Momma" —
as in mother. With me anyway, that’s been the case ever since my first
brush with the place.
It can also be argued that the 73-year-old MoMa is in fact the
"Big Mama" of museums specializing in modern art. After MoMA
came the deluge of countless other institutional iterations,
of modern art.
Given that MoMA-the-museum is to some the fountainhead of modern
art, if not the mother of such institutions, maybe we can be indulged
in this take on MoMA’s temporary new location, in Queens, New York.
Because with or without layers of meaning, the good news is that MoMA
is easy to visit and worth the trip. (But isn’t that what your very
own momma always claimed anyway?)
Come to MoMA, little art lover. Even though your MoMA
has left West 53 Street for a few years, and settled in Queens, you’ll
love the new place. It’s much more manageable than the old one, which
is now being massively renovated and enlarged.
MoMA closed in Manhattan in May and "MoMA QNS" — a
building that was once a Swingline staple factory — opened in
Long Island City, Queens, at the end of June. The Queens facility
allows 160,000 square feet of space for exhibitions and operations,
and after "MoMA Manhattan" reopens in 2005, this site will
continue to serve.
Designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, the new and expanded MoMA on West 53
Street will be an entirely new museum, with more than double the space
for its exhibitions and programs. Two buildings, one whose first seven
floors will become the main exhibition galleries, and the second,
a first-time stand-alone education and research center, will frame
the enlarged sculpture garden.
If you have been a little nervous about visiting — as what grown
child of a MoMA occasionally has not been — you’ll especially
love to visit your MoMA on weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays, MoMA
will pick you up at her old place and deliver you close to her new
door, then afterwards, drop you off where you began.
That’s the easiest way to get to MoMA’s new digs: the free Queens
Artlink shuttle. On weekends, on the hour between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.,
a plushy bus pulls up in front of MoMA’s once and future 53 Street
building. Those who are waiting simply climb aboard to be driven,
in about 20 comfortable minutes, to MoMA QNS. On the half-hour, buses
transport visitors from Queens back to Manhattan. Another bus travels
from MoMA QNS to its affiliate, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, and
four more Queens art destinations.
A taxi is another drive option, as is getting there via private car
or bus; specifics are available on the museum’s website
). The subway, No. 7 Local from Grand Central Station (a 15-minute
ride) or Times Square, is another quick and easy way to reach MoMA
in Queens. As you near your stop, 33 Street Queens, look out of the
windows on the right side of the train: a three-dimensional MoMA logo
forms atop the museum’s low blue building. Maybe not as grand as it
looks in the museum’s publicity, but ingenious nonetheless.
You have to visit your MoMA if you want to see your dear old friends,
comfortably ensconced at the new place. Not only that, MoMA has
some newcomers for you to meet.
They’re all easy to find in MoMA’s new one-floor building with 20-foot
high ceilings. Smooth ramps connect most levels of polished concrete
floors. Except for a few steps near the entrance, in fact, most every
part of MoMA is accessible by ramp. For instance, you go down a long
ramp to check your cloak or to powder your nose in a capacious women’s
room — the sort of modern design MoMA’s old place never offered.
And you will be thrilled to see once again Miro, van Gogh, Mondrian,
Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, Rousseau. Matisse and Picasso are there
now too, of course. They are all part of the ongoing show "To
Be Looked At," a rotating selection of masterworks from the
permanent collection. Beginning in February, these two favorite
artists will be the subject of the blockbuster, "Matisse
a 140-work show examing the complex relationship between the two
Duchamp can be found in Queens too, and besides his other
he must win the all-time art title contest with "To Be Looked
At (From the Other Side of the Glass) With One Eye, Close To, For
Almost an Hour." Among other milestones and curiosities you’ll
see again at MoMA, there’s Joseph Beuys’ "Iron Chest" (1968),
a relic of his performance days. In 1968, he filled it with fat and
100 bicycle pumps, then welded it shut. And here it is.
Richard Serra, whose art statements were writ comparatively small
in the late ’60s, weighs in with "Equal (Corner Prop Piece),"
in lead. And one of Britain’s bad boys, Chris Ofili, is there with
"Prince Amongst Thieves," with ingredients that include the
once-incendiary resin-coated elephant dung.
Near the lobby is a fascinating multi-modal area is devoted to
about MoMA’s building project. On two video screens, you can watch
"The Modern Procession" to this site last June, when
of works from the collection were ceremonially carried from 53 Street,
Manhattan, to the new site in Queens. There are a half-dozen PCs for
the electronically inclined, and a graphic wall display about Yoshio
Taniguchi’s design and the $800 million capital budget for its
And of course, MoMA would like you to stay for a bite to eat —
you know how mommas are about feeding the family. But, if you insist
on junk food, MoMA might sigh, but won’t try to stop you.
The fare available at MoMA QNS can be summed up as minimalist and
pricey. So it depends on whether you’ll pay the price for the somewhat
crowded ambiance — the cafe is cheek-by-jowl with the museum shop,
one level up from the entry ramp. Street vendors’ alternatives —
hot dogs, pretzels, soda, and so on — can be had right outside
in the fresh Queens air. There’s also a well-worn diner at the corner
between the museum and the shuttle bus stop where you can buy coffee
and a danish for less than "masterpiece" prices.
As usual, MoMA will invite you to take home some books to read, and
maybe a little memento of your visit. The museum shop is a small,
elbow-to-elbow version of the two floors of selling space on West
53 Street. Its biggest surprise is the panoply of MoMA QNS souvenirs
celebrating this building, from Metro card holders to compact folding
maps. The facility will stay in the family for future use as storage,
research, and other behind-the-scenes uses after the grand new MoMA
As suggested by myriad publications, MoMA was nothing if not
about decamping to Queens. The site is excitingly unconventional —
a design paradigm itself — and will probably win MoMA new friends
and patrons in the long run.
Yes, MoMA’s temporary home is accessible and welcoming. You will feel
wanted there. Elaine certainly did. She was easily heard exclaiming
to the museum guard in the first room of paintings: "As soon as
we turned the corner, I got interested. This is a real van Gogh? Now
I’m getting the chills!"
Elaine Hyland Peary, 45, had never been to an art museum before. On
the same day I got to MoMA QNS for the first time, she got to her
first museum. Walking around with her husband, Bill, and his uncle,
composer Angelo Musolino — both native New Yorkers and museum
habitues — Peary shared her impressions with everyone in earshot.
"I saw an Andy Warhol ("Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times,"
1963) — I’m really excited!" Not everything had that effect:
that bowl of water. I could do that," she said, dismissing
Aquarium," a glass bowl filled to the brim with water.
Let’s just say Peary preferred the works from the permanent collection
to those in the changing exhibitions. Or that she loved her MoMA,
although not uncritically.
Visit MoMA soon and there will be no guilt trips or embarrassing
— "where have you been?" and "who have you been
— you never call, you never write. And you needn’t come alone;
feel free to bring others with you. You’ll find MoMA more welcoming
Altogether, it’s like a MoMA-makeover — and you’ll just love your
Queens Boulevard, Long Island City, Queens, 212-708-9400. Monday,
Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m.
to 7:45 p.m. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday. $12; students and seniors
(65+) $8.50. Www.Moma.org. For Queens Artlink, call 212-708-9750
or visit www.QueensArtlink.org.
19. The $20 ticket ($15.50 for students and seniors) includes entry
to "Matisse Picasso" and "To Be Looked At: Painting and
Sculpture from the Collection." A limited number of same day
will be available during the show. Purchase at MoMA, the MoMA Design
Stores, or from Ticketmaster, 866-879-6662;
of decorative and functional weavings by Princeton artist Armando
Sosa. A native of Salcaja, Guatemala, Sosa weaves his dreams on
looms creating scenes of soccer games, bullfights, and kite flying.
Open by appointment during school hours; to December 20.
"One World, One Love," a vibrant show of art, crafts, and
jewelry featuring work by two area artists: ceramics by Erica Barton
Haba and glass art by Ed Steckley. Also on exhibit, hand-painted
silk, paintings, ceramics, and other arts from the Caribbean. Open
Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 6 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m. To
Jorge Armenteros, owner of Little Taste of Cuba, introduces
Cuba," an exhibition of contemporary Cuban folk art presented
on the walls of Triumph. Show is on view through December.
609-298-6970. Group show by new gallery artists Eugene Maziarz, Joe
Kassa, and Ed DeWitt. Open Thursday through Saturday, 4 to 8 p.m..
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To December 15.
"Sky Flowers," paintings by Hartini Gibson. Open Tuesday to
Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To December
in Focus: Watercolors from the Henry and Rose Pearlman
an exhibition of 16 rarely-seen works on paper by the precursor of
modern painting. Organized by Laura Giles, associate curator of prints
and drawings, the exhibition celebrates the publication of the first
scholarly catalogue on these watercolors which span the entire range
of Cezanne’s career. On long-term loan to the museum since 1976, the
works are rarely shown due to their sensitivity to light. To January
Also "Beyond the Visible: A Conservator’s Perspective;" to
January 5. "Lewis Baltz: Nevada and Other Photographs," an
exhibition of recently acquired photographs and series by Lewis Baltz;
to January 19. "Earth’s Beauty Revealed: The 19th-Century European
Landscape;" to January 12. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Highlights tours every Saturday at 2
609-258-3184. "Unseen Hands: Women Printers, Binders, and Book
Designers," a Milberg Gallery exhibition curated by Rebecca Warren
Davidson. To March 30, 2003.
609-771-2198. "A Painting for Over the Sofa (that isn’t really
a painting)," an invitational exhibition curated by the Bernice
Steinbaum Gallery. Artists represented by paintings and inflatable
sofas include Louise Bourgeois, Rico Gatson, Hung Lui, Pepon Osorio,
Miriam Schapiro, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Deborah Willis. Open
Monday to Friday, noon to 3 p.m.; Thursdays 7 to 9 p.m.; and Sunday,
1 to 3 p.m. To December 11.
609-586-4800, ext. 3589. "Line of Inquiry: Artworks that celebrate
the element of Line." Invited artists are Joy Kreves, Elizabeth
McCue, Helen Mirkil, Paul Mordetsky, and Harry Naar. Artists gallery
talks December 4, at 7 p.m., and December 11, at noon. Gallery hours
Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Wednesday evenings 6 to 8
p.m.; Thursday evenings 7 to 9 p.m. To December 19.
609-620-6026. In the Hutchins Gallery, "David FeBland:
Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon; and 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday
and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. To December 10.
609-895-5589. "This and That: The Art of Michael Ramus," a
retrospective show featuring the paintings, drawings, and
of the Princeton-based artist. Gallery hours are Tuesday through
11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. To December 17.
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. Exhibitions include: "Paul Signac: A
Collection of Watercolors and Drawings"; to January 19.
Cover Design, 1920s to 1930s: The Graphic Face of the
and Stalinist Periods"; to March 30. "Sonia Delaunay: La
celebrating the accomplishments of the key figure (1885 to 1979) in
the development of 20th-century abstraction; to December 28.
Also "Yurii Dyshlenko: Abstraction, Modernity, and Mass
to January 12. "The National Association of Women Artists
at Rutgers," to December 8. "Ben Shahn: The Rilke
to December 31. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to
4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight tours every
Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under 18 free; and free
on the first Sunday of every month.
Annual holiday show featuring paintings by Katharine Steele Renninger
and watercolors by Barbara Watts. Gallery hours are Wednesday to
noon to 5 p.m. To January 12.
609-397-7774. Holiday jewelry show. Open Sunday to Friday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To December 31.
908-996-1470. Holiday invitational show of gallery artists including
Ed Baumlin, Ed Bronstein, W. Carl Burger, Christian Corey, Nessa
Carol Ross, Rhoda Yanow, and Frank Zuccarelli. Open Wednesday &
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday,
noon to 5 p.m. To January 30.
Recent paintings by Ellie Wyeth Fox and ceramic work by the gallery’s
resident artist Jim Webb. Gallery open Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m., Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. To December 22.
New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "From the Old World to the New
recent additions to the collection featuring works by nine Hungarian
Americans who emigrated to the U.S. between 1920 and 1957. Artists
are Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Bertha and Elena De Hellenbranth, Sandor
Emil Kelemen, Willy Pogany, Tibor Gergely, Zoltan Poharnok, and
Korda. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. $5 donation. To April, 2003.
732-745-4177. "Uncommon Clay: New Jersey’s Architectural Terra
Cotta Industry," an exhibition of artifacts and written and oral
histories of New Jersey’s once booming architectural ceramics
Open Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
On view to May 30, 2003.
732-745-3030. National touring exhibit, "Preserving Memory:
Monumental Legacy," telling the stories behind America’s outdoor
"Robert Sakson: Alone at Last," a solo show by Trenton’s
watercolor artist, part of the Trenton art scene for over 40
Saxon is a member of the major watercolor societies; his work is in
the permanent collections of Princeton’s Firestone Library, the
Shearson-Lehman, Avon Corporation, AT&T, and others. Museum hours
are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
To January 5.
215-340-9800. "Earth, River, and Light: Masterworks of
Impressionism," an exhibition of notable and rarely exhibited
Pennsylvania Impressionist works drawn from the private holdings of
regional collectors. The touring show originates at the Michener and
is accompanied by a new, comprehensive study of Pennsylvania
by Brian Peterson; to December 29. $6 adult; $3 child.
Also "The Berenstain Bears Celebrate: The Art of Stan and Jan
Berenstain," the storybook authors’ first museum retrospective,
organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum and curated by David Leopold.
The show coincides with the publication of "Down a Sunny Dirt
Road: An Autobiography" by Random House; to January 12. $10 adult;
Also "Retreating to Ideal Environments," works from the New
Hope colony by Daniel Garber, Fern Coppedge, Robert Spencer, and
to February 2. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday
and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9 p.m.
Route 1, North Brunswick, 732-249-2077. "Barnscapes: The Changing
Face of Agriculture in New Jersey," photographs of New Jersey
barns and farmlands, with 42 images by New Jersey landscape
Louise Rosskam. On view to January 17. $4 adults, $2 children.
609-292-6464. "100 New Jersey Artists Make Prints," an
celebrating 15 years of the New Jersey Print and Paper fellows program
at the Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper (RCIPP). Judith
Brodsky, Rutgers professor emerita, is founding director of RCIPP
which is currently directed by Lynne Allen. Museum hours are Tuesday
to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To
Also "Cultures in Competition: Indians and Europeans in Colonial
New Jersey." Show traces the impact of European settlement on
the native Indians’ way of life after 1600.
from the Collection;" "New Jersey’s Native Americans: The
Archaeological Record;" "Delaware Indians of New Jersey;"
"The Sisler Collection of North American Mammals;" "Of
Rock and Fire;" "Neptune’s Architects;" "The
"New Jersey Ceramics, Silver, Glass and Iron;" "Historical
Archaeology of Colonial New Jersey;" "Washington Crossing
West State Street, Trenton, 609-292-6464. "A Decade of Collecting:
Works from the Museum’s Archaeological, Ethnographic, and Natural
History Collections." Open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.,
to January 5, 2003.
Bronze sculptures by LaRue Harding. Gallery hours are Monday to
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To December 12.
609-586-0616. Fall/Winter Exhibition. In the Museum, new work by glass
artist Dale Chihuly, to April 6, 2003. In the Domestic Arts Building,
work by winners of 2002 Outstanding Student Achievement in
Sculpture Award, to January 10, 2003. Regular park admission $4 to
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday
is Members Day. Adult admission $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7 Friday
and Saturday; and $10 Sunday. Memberships start at $55.
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