Category Archives: Museums

At MoMA: Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde

Last November, we went to the opening of the Diego Rivera murals exhibit at MoMA.  The line to get into the exhibit was so long that we didn’t even get to see the art – we just stood around, drinking (free) wine and people-watching.  Not so bad, especially considering the people-watching at these MoMA openings is pretty top-notch, but still kind of a let-down.1

Last Tuesday, we went to a MoMA opening and were actually able to see the art.  (This is not to say that we didn’t enjoy the free wine and the people-watching.  The people-watching was especially great: some guy was going around with a fake flower/tree sprouting out of his jacket shoulder.)

We saw  Tokyo 1955–1970: A New Avant-Garde, which opened to the public yesterday.  It’s a collection of some interesting stuff, but the exhibit itself seems too cramped.  Because so many of the pieces are so intense, I would have liked to see more white (or green, as the case may be) space between them – but pictures were stacked atop each other on the walls, and sculptures were crowded onto the same platform.  Case in point: three separate sculptures/mixed media pieces are displayed on the same platform in such a way that we thought they were all part of the same work.

What I consider to be a sloppy presentation aside, there are some interesting pieces there (including something described as molted human skin), and the exhibit is worth a view.

1 We did make a return trip to see the murals!


at MoMA: Talk to Me

On Tuesday night, we went to MoMA to preview the upcoming exhibit Talk to Me. The place was packed. We gave up on getting drinks upon arrival and headed straight into the exhibit – which turned out to be a good plan. As we were leaving the exhibit, we saw that a huge line had formed at its entrance.

Talk to Me features “communication between people and things,” and, as you might expect, was very interactive. There were things to smell, things to listen to listen to, things to touch … and even things to vend you working Metrocards! We both agreed that we want to come back and explore the exhibit at a more leisurely pace. On Tuesday night, it was a bit of a madhouse.

We finally squeezed our way out of the crowded gallery and spent the remainder of the evening sipping wine in the sculpture garden.


night at MoMA

It was a pretty nice little Tuesday night.

cherry blossoms, the founding documents, and Bo

As I mentioned on Friday, we headed down to the DC for the weekend. After a rocky start (in which the Q decided to run local … slowly … and then stop between stations, causing us to dash blindly for a cab with ten minutes to cover ten blocks and two avenues), we arrived in our nation’s capitol and had a fantastic time!

White House

the White House (taken with Vignette on my phone)

We stayed with one of Marc’s good friends and her boyfriend, and they were fantastic hosts. We all went out for sangria and tapas after we arrived on Friday, and it was delicious. I hadn’t had tapas probably since before I left Chicago, and I had missed it!

The next morning, we headed off to the Cherry Blossom Festival and then walked around the Tidal Basin to look at the cherry blossoms themselves. Most of them were past their prime, but there were a number that were still quite beautiful.

cherry blossoms in bloom!

cherry blossoms

After lunch (and a sighting of the Presidential motorcade), we separated from our hosts to do some touristy things. We stopped first at the Renwick Gallery, a small museum with some interesting art. We then moved on to the National Archives, where we waited in two long queues: one to get inside and one to the see the founding documents. It was worth it; it was really neat to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights up close. We also popped inside the American Art Museum for a few minutes. There’s some really neat stuff in there, including the fascinating Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii.

We then grabbed bottle of wine and headed over to visit my good friend Johanna and her husband CJ. They shared some (much better) wine and cheese with us, and then we went out for Ethiopian food.

The next morning, we joined Johanna and CJ for the White House Garden Tour. The tour lets you up right by the White House, and we even caught sight of Bo, the First Dog, hanging out by the White House steps. The grounds are, as expected, beautiful, and it was fun to see the Kitchen Garden and the honey bees.

with the White House

in front of the White House


Bo, the First Dog

Bo, the First Dog

White House Kitchen Garden

White House Kitchen Garden

We said goodbye to Johanna and CJ and hit the American History museum, where we saw the flag that inspired the national anthem, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Julia Child’s kitchen, and Kermit the Frog. We took a lunch break at the Pavilion Cafe in the sculpture garden, and then strolled up the mall. The weather had turned sunny and warm, and it was a perfect time to just walk around. We stopped into the Museum of the American Indian and then hung out up by the Capitol.



Then it was time to gather our stuff and make it back to the bus! We watched a few episodes of The Wire on the ride, and we were in New York before we knew it. It was all in all a very successful weekend!

… and in New York

I’ve been so busy recapping my trip to Italy that I’ve forgotten to blog about the awesome things Marc and I have been doing in New York!

Last week, we went to the opening of German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse at MoMA. I knew nothing about German Expressionism before we went, and it was interesting to see the progression of subjects from nudes to prostitutes to war-ravaged skulls. The exhibit runs through July 11, so there’s plenty of time to check it out. The exhibit website provides a great first look, grouping pieces by styles, themes, and techniques.

On Monday night, we went to see a film at BAM. Shortly after we moved into our apartment, we received $20 coupons for BAM as a reward for taking a building-related survey. Our coupons were expiring on March 31, so we decided it was time to finally cash them in. We decided to use them to see Certified Copy, a trip of a film about a French woman and an English man spending an afternoon in the Tuscan countryside. It was certainly a well-done film – the distractingly beautiful lead actress (Juliette Binoche) won Best Actress at Cannes for the role, and much of the camera work was interesting – but I spent so much of the film trying to figure out precisely what was going on that I think I’ll need to see it again. Every time I thought I had a handle on what was happening, something would happen to make me question my interpretation. It was particularly interesting for me, having just returned from a trip to Italy myself.

Last night, we were able to visit Pompeii: Life and Death in the Shadow of Vesuvius at Discovery Times Square. We really weren’t sure what to expect, but it was really neat. I imagined it would be a gallery-style presentation, with artifacts displayed, but it was much more like a museum. The exhibit was laid out in five basic parts: (1) a short introductory film, (2) artwork, (3) a film about the eruption of Vesuvius complete with a vibrating floor and flashing lights, (4) casts of the bodies from Pompeii, and (5) miscellaneous objects from daily life. The artwork was my favorite part: the frescoes were so colorful and spirited, and I loved the small bronze household gods. The price tag for the exhibit is pretty steep, but there’s a lot of really interesting stuff in there, and it’s all presented with enough context to make it really captivating.

Motion Pictures at MoMA

This post is more than a bit delayed, but I got busy with holiday preparation, and then the holidays, and then the snow, and … well, you see the pattern.

A few weeks ago, we went to the preview of the Andy Warhol: Motion Pictures exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.  The exhibit is primarily composed of twelve of his Screen Tests arranged in one room, and it also includes the silent film Kiss.  It was kind of wacky to stand there and watch these looping films run on huge screens, but it was wacky in a good way.  We had a great time, despite the crushingly long line for drinks.

MoMA has encouraged people to submit their own screen tests through Flickr and is collecting them on its exhibition site.  I, being bored in Illinois one afternoon, did this, and you can see my screen test by visiting the exhibition site, selecting “view all” (by hovering over the current screen), and scrolling until you find me (I seem to be about fourteen rows from the bottom).  The idea is to remain as motionless as possible, but about forty seconds in, I started feeling awfully silly and began giggling.

screen cap of my screen test

The exhibit runs until March 21, so check it out if you get the chance.  It’s pretty cool.

rewind, part 3

We left off with the first part of my brother’s NYC trip … and here’s the end of it!

My brother and I spent the entirety of Tuesday in the American Museum of Natural History. If you’ve never been there, I would classify it as a must-do. The museum is a pay-what-you-wish museum, so, while I advocate supporting museums and always paying the full fare, if you are overwhelmed by the size, it seems reasonable to pay a portion one day and come back another day and pay another portion. It’s easy and fun to spend the whole day there, though – and the cafeteria in the basement makes for a perfectly legitimate lunch!

moose fight in the museum!

We concluded Tuesday with a trip to the gym, dinner at The Smith, and a stroll through Times Square.

On Wednesday, we started at Columbus Circle and popped into the Time Warner Center, where Dave got a shirt at J. Crew and I got some fun Illinois notebooks. We then explored Central Park until we realized we were so hungry that we had to split a pretzel. We left the park in search of sandwiches, and then moved on to take in Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the Lego Store, and the NBC Store. (It was in the NBC Store that, after some perserverence, Dave found a Bayside Tigers t-shirt.)

We then paid a visit to the Empire State Building! I had never been up there, and I was blown completely away, so I’m planning on making that a post all of its own. Here’s a sneak peek:

view from the Empire State Building

After the thrilling Empire State Building, we relaxed at the Southwest Patio in Bryant Park. After a couple of drinks, we walked over to Times Square to check out a Halloween store, and we ran into Casanova from Project Runway! Even though Dave had no idea who he was, he got him to pose for a picture with me! Yay! Thanks, Brother!

with Casanova!

We concluded our evening with pizza from Lombardi’s. Aside from later introducing my brother to Teen Mom on the DVR, that was pretty much the end of the visit. He had to leave my apartment just after 10 the next morning to make his flight. I’m so glad he came! I had a great time, and I’m looking forward to visiting him at Thanksgiving!

The rest of the pictures from his visit are on Flickr!

rewind, part 2

As promised, here is part 2 of my busy week recap! My brother came to visit me on his fall break last week. He arrived last Sunday and stayed through Thursday morning. It was Dave’s first time to New York, and we had so much fun!

He arrived on Sunday afternoon, and I almost immediately dragged him down to the Brooklyn Flea. It turns out that the Flea, while one of my favorite things to do, did not impress my brother! When describing it to Matt, he said, “Have you ever been to a garage sale?” Ha, I guess it’s not for everyone! We saw Liz and Matt off, and then we headed into Manhattan.

At this point, all three of us (myself, my brother, and Marc) were all pretty tired. We were also hungry, so we got $1.99 falafel sandwiches at Eva’s and ate them in Washington Square Park while people-watching. We strolled through the Village and up into Gramercy, wandering through the enormous and completely overwhelming Eataly before deciding to head home and get Thai from the new place in our neighborhood.

On Monday, as I mentioned, Dave and I visited the Statue of Liberty. We had tickets to go as far as the monument base and, let me tell you, my heart was in my throat just on my way up those stairs! I think my brain remembered the spiral staircase up to the crown and was trying to prevent me from attempting that again! Despite our inability to escape a group of unruly German (or possibly Dutch) teenagers, we had a great time. It was a beautiful day to visit the statue.

We then took the ferry over to Ellis Island and toured the museum there before heading back to Battery Park and visiting the National Museum of the American Indian. I wouldn’t waste your time with that museum. It’s a Smithsonian museum, but most of the collection is down in Washington DC. We kept thinking we were missing something – like a whole wing – but the museum there is really very tiny. It is free, though!

After that, I took Dave on a tour of Lower Manhattan: we visited Alexander Hamilton’s grave at Trinity Church, walked over to Wall Street and the NYSE, walked over to Ground Zero, and then walked up to the NY Supreme Court. That was when we decided that we needed some frozen margaritas, so we headed home to check out Habana Outpost. We returned home shortly after that, and that was when the hail started. We waited it out and then went to Pequena for dinner.

I’ll finish my brother’s visit in the next post! Until then, you can check out the pictures from his trip on Flickr!