Splayed across the green lawns of historic Snug Harbor, Staten Island Children's Museum's main brick building houses a four-level wonderland of kid-friendly fun. Tykes learn about nature in exhibits such as Bugs & Other Insects, which lets explorers crawl through a human-size anthill, don shiny beetle carapaces, and sign peace treaties with hissing cockroaches. Portia's Playhouse puts visitors in charge of their own theatrical productions, complete with costumes, a working curtain, and an interactive soundboard, and House About It beckons youngsters over to pick up real drills and make boxes under careful supervision. Outside, a quiet garden offers visitors a place to wind down, and the Sea Of Boats gives life to nautical fantasies on a springy, outdoor play area that cushions inadvertent falls.
In 1899, program directors at what is today's Brooklyn Children's Museum decided to transform an old family mansion into a museum geared toward children. Anna Billings Gallup headed up the first crew of curators, who transformed the space into the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the world's first youth-geared institution of its kind.
Today, the museum preserves Gallup's world-renowned passion for educating children along with more than 30,000 objet d'anthropology, from shark jawbones to tribal masks. Eight standing exhibits, a greenhouse, and a garden aim to entertain kids and families and include an exploration of world culture. The Sensory Room provides an interactive experience for special-needs children, with visual, auditory, and motor-skills-related activities. The museum also teaches future generations about sustainability with a curriculum based on the building's own inner workings, which are certified green by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
One of the Brooklyn Historical Society’s current exhibitions, “Inventing Brooklyn: People, Places, Progress,” traces the forces that transformed the area from its Native American origins to its present state as a thriving metropolis. That exhibit reflects the society as a whole, which was founded in 1863 to celebrate Brooklyn’s history and evolution. The museum also houses exhibits that extend beyond pure history, such as “Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics,” a record of family portraiture that includes vintage daguerreotypes, detailed Etch-a-Sketches from the 1960's, and modern digital snapshots.
To complement the exhibits, the society also runs the Othmer library, a nationally recognized research library with archives of local photography, manuscripts, and oral histories from more than 300 narrators, many of which focus on specific themes such as Brooklyn Navy Yard Workers or the Williamsburg Giglio Festival. The society’s staff also takes their expertise out into the community to helm walking tours that criss-cross the borough, host off-site exhibits, and work extensively in local schools.
Once every three years, the curators at New York's International Center of Photography set out on a mission to encapsulate the world. They scour every corner of the globe to collect the most interesting video and photography. The end result is an exhibit that reveals the Earth at present—its economic conditions, political instabilities, and social mores. The museum's other gallery spaces surround their visitors in works from the 19th century to modern day, offering windows into every era since Santa invented cameras as a new Christmas toy. These ever-changing exhibits showcase everything from evolving fashions to countries in the midst of full-blown revolution.
Hidden behind theses photographs' imagery, lies the minds of brilliant visual artists. Some of these masters speak at the The Photographers Lecture Series, a staple of the museum's research center since 1974. During these events, distinguished photographers discuss their work and how photography fits into the worlds of art, fashion, and journalism. The ICP's Library delves into these worlds even further with thousands of photobooks, periodicals, and digital files.
ICP's faculty also nurtures emerging artists. Together, they lead more than 400 continuing education courses, exploring areas such as digital photography and video. And for the most serious students, they offer a one-year certificate program and an MFA program.
Housed within a complex designed to resemble a mountainside monastery, the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art immerses visitors within an environment intended to foster a widespread appreciation for the artistic and cultural creations of the Himalayan peoples. The fieldstone buildings were inspired by photographs of the Potala Palace?the historic seat of the Dalai Lamas?and the surrounding landscape features terraced gardens, lotus and goldfish ponds, and secluded nooks for meditation or high-stakes staring competitions. This connection to Himalayan architecture is also apparent in the structures' architectural details, such as a flat roof crowned with a four-sided pagoda, the trapezoidal windows, and the slate-capped doorways. When taken together, all of these architectural and landscaping features allow visitors to lose themselves in the setting while viewing the collection of artwork and culturally relevant artifacts.
The museum's permanent collection focuses on rare and sacred pieces from Tibet and nations influenced by Tibetan Buddhism, such as Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and northern China. Featuring works from the 12th?20th centuries, this selection includes everything from bronze sculptures and silk-backed scroll paintings to furniture, photographs, and ritualistic objects. Allowing guests to view these items is only one aspect of the museum's mission though. Additionally, the staff members encourage visitors to engage with Himalayan culture by participating in tai chi and guided-meditation classes that the instructors lead on select days.
In 1929, three highly regarded patrons of the arts joined forces to found an institution that would break away from the conservative archetype of an art museum. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss, and Mary Quinn Sullivan could hardly have guessed that their mutual brainchild—The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMa—would someday transform into an archetype all its own. The museum’s original director, Alfred H. Barr Jr., moved to create the first-ever multidepartmental structure, with various departments devoted to architecture and design, film and video, and photography. These were in addition to the standard painting, sculpture, and visual-arts exhibits found in nearly every other museum to date. The public's response was overwhelmingly positive. After outgrowing two spaces, MoMA moved to its Midtown location, where it stands to this day. MoMA's initial gift of eight prints and one drawing has exploded to encompass a collection of more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photos, and design pieces. This collection continues to offer a wide-angle view into modern art and has spilled over into a massive library that houses more than 300,000 volumes. Every day, art lovers from around the world make their way through the museum’s structure, stopping at galleries that house iconic works by Picasso, Bourgeois, Warhol, Rauschenberg, and others. A constant influx of exhibitions keeps MoMA's many walls alive in the spirit of its progressive founders.