What to Do on Rainy Days in New York: Museums (II)

Yes, the rainy season is here again! Or rather, has never stopped due to our extremely mild winter for the past 4 months. Which is even better, I think. What a great occasion to fill you in on the latest excursions I have made after What to Do on Rainy Days in New York: Museums (I).

So lately I have been having some time on my hands again. Time to check out two more gorgeous museums the City of New York offers.
As promised, I made it to the Museum of Modern Art. The MoMA is a pretty neat spot for exhibitions and galleries. Like many other large museums, it also offers free entrance when you go at certain times. I know Friday past 4 PM is one of them. So one Friday afternoon I made my way out to Midtown again. The MoMA is not located on the Museum Mile but close to the Rockefeller Center. It took me some time to find the right side, but once I made it there, a long long line of people was awaiting me. “Of course, “I thought, “Whenever something is for free you can never expect to be the only one with the “bright” idea to go there by yourself.” But surprisingly it didn’t take as awfully long to get in as I had fearfully anticipated. A good 15 min wait of shoving Italian and Asian tourists out of my way (who always wanted to get ahead of the rest), until I found myself inside. The MoMA is beautifully build up with a small yard and fountains in a secluded outside area. Inside, you can climb up to six open floors. Each floor hosts one to three different topics. I was fascinated by the photo section, naturally, and quite taken in by the paintings, too. And then, on the upper level, you find an array of items modeled and invented by contemporary “artists. “ Such as a bicycle tire stilted on a kitchen stool, taking in the entire room. Or a mask drinking an old bottle of Coca-Cola. Or a hamburger wrapper on golden stone. Well, the last one was my idea, I am just kidding. It would fit into the other dubious pieces of art. Don’t get me wrong, I thought the sculpture of the runner and the three red pieces of plastic quite brilliant. But a broken down bicycle tire? Next! Use the space for something more unique, please.

Is this art?

The runner

Overall, the Museum of Modern Art is great to fill you in on what contemporary wizards have come up with. I am sure they always have nice exhibitions going on but it must also be hard to find competitive artists who are worth to exhibit here. They must all still stand in the shadow of artists from a different decade…

Next was the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum. That was actually yesterday, as it was cold and windy outside – most ideal time to finally make my way out to the Museum Mile again. Right next to Central Park, on 88th St and 5th Avenue, you can walk into the Guggenheim Museum almost every day except for Thursday. Or at least that is what I thought. But yesterday from 5:45 PM to closing time was a give-by-donation entrance fee. Meaning a long line of culture-hungry people was awaiting me here again. I am starting to see a pattern! Luckily, even though the mass wrapped around the building and almost to Madison Avenue, it only took us ten minutes to get inside.

And here another surprise was waiting for me: Picture-taking forbidden! Yes, that’s right, the Guggenheim is so far the first and only museum in which you are not allowed to shoot nice photos. Pictures are my passion and I like to keep some for the sake of my memory. However, I sadly had to discover that as soon as I put my Canon out and shot one memorable photograph on the second floor, a security guard came barfing at me, ordering me to pack that camera away. But after walking up the steep hill leading to the fifth floor, if you can call it so, because the museum goes up in a continuous flow, I also started noticing that some guards did not care at all if you snapped souvenir pictures right in front of them. Mind me, but once I made it to the very top, a huge group of tourists/locals/ who knows what were standing there and having quite a photo session. It was actually hilarious to see how most people were rebelliously posing for the best shot before the guards came and put an end to it all.

The Guggenheim right now has the John Chamberlain exhibition going on. It opened up three days ago. In addition, it is quite sad to know the background story as John Chamberlain passed away just two months ago. Either way, the exhibition was scheduled to take off now and they couldn’t or wouldn’t interrupt the installation, as they were already in the process of building up his art. Therefore, you can regard this special exhibition as a homage to the artist Chamberlain, who never got to open up his own work of a lifetime.
In addition to the contemporary pieces, you find paintings sponsored by the Tannhauser Gallery in a side section, featuring Picasso, Pisarro, van Gogh, Rousseau, and many, many more. What I found interesting were the paintings themselves. They were not the famous pieces you learn about and get to know in school or history books, but rather pieces of art you didn’t even know existed. A colorful painting from the 19-year old Picasso, for example, before the time his work became more and more blurred up.

Chamberlain Art (taken with iPhone 4S)

The Guggenheim is a museum I had always wanted to check out and I now finally got the chance to do so. Albeit its small size it does offer some true masterpieces and is definitely worth the visit. Take advantage of the free Saturday evenings, as they are not too crowded after all.

Me and my forbidden picture!

[For more pictures on the MoMA, go here.]