Friday, March 2, 2012

Tourist Trappings

My New Year's resolution was to see more in New York City. In essence, to become a tourist. I spend far too much time in our place in the Bronx, and I've been trying to branch out a bit more. I decided to start with museums, since I have a museum volunteer badge that gets me, and a guest, in free to practically every museum on the east coast. Besides Paris, NYC is probably the best place in the world for museums (lucky me!). Here are the highlights:

Discovery Times Square, where I volunteer, is one of the coolest museums in the city. Or the world. It only hosts two temporary exhibits at a time: one interactive and one educational. Basically this place fills the niche for all those cool exhibits that don't have a home. In addition to the Harry Potter, Pompeii, and Titanic exhibits, CSI has a been a popular one this year, especially with school groups (not where I'd choose to take my kids, but whatever). In this exhibit, visitors don CSI vests and take a walk through a crime scene, stopping at various stations to examine evidence before solving the case. As avid fans of the TV series, this was perfect for us. Next up at DTS: Terracotta Warriors and Spies.

Ahh, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One of the best museums in the world, it is extremely overwhelming. I've been three times already and only seen a tiny portion. This place is the Louvre of the Americas. Andrew and I have decided to attack it systematically, visiting one wing each visit. Our last visit was to the American Wing, where we saw the wonders of Louis C. Tiffany, who designed some of the most beautiful pieces in our favorite art style, Art Nouveau.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Tiffany stained glass
Tiffany fountain

While it isn't technically a museum, FAO Schwarz should be. It's the world's greatest toy store, complete with a choose-your-color crayon section and the infamous Giant Piano. It definitely feels like a museum inside, with display cases scattered throughout the store which showcase the history of a different classic toy (Silly Putty, Mr. Potato Head, etc.). Though it feels very commercialized, it's still a lot of fun. But I'm glad I don't have kids to take in there right now. As Andrew noted, "How could we afford to buy them anything in there?" (The Giant Piano costs $250,000).

The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, was a big let-down for me. First, I really dislike almost all modern art. I just can't bring myself to consider a single red line on a canvas or a cereal box as "art." That said, I do enjoy some contemporary art, like Picasso, Diego Rivera, and Monet. Anyway, I wasn't expecting to really like the museum, but I expected it to take more than an hour to see the whole thing. They only had three Van Goghs, two Monets, and one Picasso!! The Met had a much better collection. I just couldn't believe that for a famous modern art museum they had such a poor collection.
For my Nana

I can't really make any remarks on the Guggenheim, since it was closed the day we tried to visit. Boo.

Even without paying an admission fee, there are lots of cool things to see and do in NYC. Just down the street from us is the Kingsbridge Armory, which is "possibly the largest armory in the world" according to Wikipedia. I just think it looks cool.

In addition to being home to the Met, MoMA, and the Guggenheim (and a ton of other famous places), 5th Ave also has some great sites. I love the library, famously depicted in movies like "The Day After Tomorrow." Weirdly, it's not really a working library. If you want to check out any books, you have to go across the street to a much uglier building.
And then there's St. Patrick's Cathedral, the most famous church in New York City. Really, it seems unfair that 5th Ave gets to hog all this cool stuff. But very convenient for tourists, as most things are all in one place!