Vacation

I took this week off from work, as a little summer vacation. I didn’t manage to get a ticket for Comic-Con this year, and there wasn’t really anything else going on over the summer that I was too enthusiastic about, so I just picked a week that nobody else was taking off. Of course, this wound up being a very hot week here in the NJ/NY area, so now I’m regretting not having made plans to get out of the area to someplace cooler.

I spent the earlier part of the week in NYC, mostly visiting museums. I was successful in getting to all the museums I wanted to visit, plus a couple more. I actually visited six museums over three days, which isn’t half bad, considering the difficulty of getting around in the heat. I’m going to list out all my museum visits below. I’m not sure I’ll have much that’s terribly insightful or useful to say, but I’d like to list everything out, for my own future reference, if nothing else.

Sunday
I started out on Sunday with a visit to the Guggenheim. I’d never been to the Guggenheim, but of course I’m familiar with the iconic architecture. The main exhibit running right now is a “re-imagining” of the main space in the museum by James Turrell. It’s interesting, but I wish I could have seen the main space in it’s usual configuration; maybe I’ll go back in the fall, after the Turrell thing is gone. There wasn’t much else going on that was interesting to me, though the Kandinsky exhibit was nice.

I also visited the Whitney on Sunday, another museum I’ve never been to. I actually really liked the Whitney. The Edward Hopper exhibit was really cool. I’ve always liked “Nighthawks”, in particular, and they had some of the preliminary drawings for that on display. The Whitney is scheduled to move to a new building in 2015, so I don’t know if I’ll likely get back to the old one again before they close it. But, I’m going to keep an eye on their site, and if they have any more exhibits that sound interesting, maybe I’ll go back.

And I also made a brief stop at the Met on Sunday. I’m a member there, so it doesn’t cost me anything to get in. The Sunday visit was brief. I went back Monday and Tuesday, so I’ll post more about those visits below.

Monday
On Monday, I returned to the Met, and spent a bit more time there. The Met used to be closed on Mondays, and I suspect that many people still don’t know that they’re open on Mondays now. I got to the museum just after 10, and had no problem walking right in. Many of the areas I visited were empty (or nearly empty) of other visitors. It was nice to be able to stroll through certain sections and enjoy them quietly, without anyone else there to distract me. I checked out the Punk exhibit, which really didn’t do anything for me. I understand why they do these kinds of exhibits, and I guess some people find them interesting, but I’m just not one of them.

Later in the day, I went to MoMA, which was a lot more crowded than the Met was. I avoided the rain room, which is apparently crazy hard to get in to see, though it sounds like it would be fun. (I should also mention that I did not buy a cronut while I was in NYC, or attempt to bring one into the rain room…) Oh, and to illustrate a bit of the difference between the Met and MoMA that day, I had no trouble standing in front of the Met’s big Jackson Pollock painting for a minute or two, alone, in quiet contemplation, but MoMA’s big Pollock had attracted a crowd, including one guy who was posing for a photo in front of it. There was quite a bit of photo-taking going on at MoMA, actually. The crowd in front of Starry Night was impressive, many of whom were taking photos, to the point that you really couldn’t just get in there are get a good look at the painting. I don’t see much of a point in taking photos of a painting like that, given how easy it is to find good images of it on the net.

Tuesday
On Tuesday, I hit a couple of smaller and less well-known museums. I first went to the Frick. I’d been wanting to go there for a while now. As a comic book nerd, I was curious to see the building that was used as the model for Avengers Mansion. And as an art nerd, I was interested in seeing their collection of paintings, including a Monet, Manet, Renoir, and a few Rembrandts. The building itself is quite nice, and though their collection isn’t huge, they do have some very nice paintings. And their exhibit of clocks was pretty cool too. (It would have been nice to see the bowling alley too, but alas that’s closed to the public…)

After that, I went to the Morgan. The original building, including the impressive library room, is quite a thing to see. I honestly didn’t get much out of the current exhibitions though. Maybe I was just suffering from museum overload at that point, but I’m really not keen to go back there again.

And finally, I went back for one more visit to the Met. The Met really is a big enough museum that you can make three visits there over three days, and see different stuff each day. On this last visit, I took in the “Birds in the Art of Japan” exhibit, which I’d managed to miss on the first two days.

So, overall, I managed to stay (mostly) out of the heat for a few days, and visited a few museums I’d never had the chance to visit before. I do wish I could have had some nicer weather for my vacation, as I would have liked to have done a lot more walking around this week. But, as it was, I did a good job of getting around via subway, bus, and taxi, with a fairly minimal amount of time spent outside in the sun.

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