Snapshots of the New Whitney Museum

by Jackie D on November 10, 2015

whitney museum nyc 2The first night that I tried to go to the new Whitney Museum in Manhattan ended up being my worst night in the city to this date. It wasn’t only because of my Whitney Museum attempt, but that’s where the night started going downhill. I’d had a long week, I was exhausted, and the only thing that I felt like doing was wandering around a museum alone with my headphones in. And so I trekked all the way into Manhattan from Brooklyn (after having trekked all the way home to Brooklyn from White Plains, which is north of Manhattan), got to the museum, and saw that the line was seven blocks long. Cool!

This past Sunday, I made a second attempt. It was one of those Bank of America free museum days — the first weekend of the month, you can go to one of the museums on B of A’s list and show your card to get in for free — so I woke up early, made myself some coffee, and set out before anyone else in the city had rolled out of bed.

whitney museum nycThere was still a line — as I knew there would be, New York being the city of perpetual lines — but it wasn’t bad. I had made a nice playlist to keep me upbeat. I got into the museum for free after waiting for about 15 minutes, and then I wandered around for about an hour with my headphones in, and then I left. It was the best.

The Whitney is a collection of American art, and I loved how truly American it all was: there were these stunning woodblock prints by a Japanese-American artist who I’ve now stalked extensively online (they were prints of California landscapes, so, you know, my heart was aching); there was this painting depicting a scene from Death of a Salesman (which is so Hollywood, right? Of course there has to be American art that’s all about Hollywood); there was a collection of work featuring jazz in the 1920s; there were a few of Edward Hopper’s famously sinister scenes (one of the painting’s descriptions described Hopper’s work as “sinister” and I love that and I’ve been calling everything “sinister” ever since); there were black and white photographs of New York City in the 1950s (many by women, to my delight); there was a large amount of Abstract Expressionism (Jackson Pollack & co) which was the art world’s reaction — in the US and abroad — to the devastation caused by WWII.

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Also, major respect to the person who painted that subway painting a few photos up. Most accurate painting in life.
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There are also great viewing decks on the 5th, 6th, and 7th floors that offer pretty views of the Meatpacking District (I say “pretty” lightly — the Meatpacking District is fairly gritty, but I actually really like all of the industrial buildings and trucks driving around).

All in all it was a relaxing morning, and I’m glad I’ve finally discovered the trick to avoiding long[er] lines: just wake up before everyone else! This is also an important strategy for brunch. The more you know.

More museums/art nerding:
Snapshots of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Snapshots of MOMA

Snapshots From MOMA

by Jackie D on May 19, 2015

moma new yorkI feel like so many of my travel stories have involved art museums in some way.

On my first solo trip in Europe, I planned my itinerary around art museums alone: I wanted to see the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the new Magritte Museum that had just opened in Brussels, and the Leopold Museum and Natural History Museum in Vienna. You can maybe see why I couldn’t convince anyone to come along with me — don’t I sound like I was so fun and wild?

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On a family trip through Italy, I broke off from the tour group for an afternoon in Venice and got very lost finding my way to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum (which ended up being awesome once I actually found it, highly recommend). It was also one of the hottest days I had ever experienced, even to this day. I was sweating so much that I literally had to stop and take breaks in the shade with 1 euro scoops of gelato along the way — a more delicious solution than pouring bottled water over my head, as many other tourists were doing.

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I studied art on the French Riviera for a summer and my memories of that place are so tied up in all of the beautiful museums and art we saw during those two months — the seaside castle that housed a Picasso museum, the bright pink mansion built by an art-loving socialite, Matisse’s tiny chapel — totally designed and painted by the artist — on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Just art museums and pretty views, French food at midnight, afternoon parties on the beach, losing my shoe in the ocean, more art museums and pretty views, all day, every day, for two months.

moma new yorkIn Faro, Portugal, I made a new friend in the hostel — she overhead me asking the owner for directions to an art museum in the middle of town and she asked if she could tag along (she was also an art history nerd). We strolled through the museum courtyard together on that sunny afternoon, swapping stories about art history classes and plans for all the European art museums we each still wanted to visit. Our conversation lasted well into the evening, well into a couple hours of sangria by the beach, and through a few scattered emails for months after that.

moma new yorkI am so lucky to have seen in person so much of the European art that I have grown up loving. Even though I’ve really toned it down with the art museum visits in the past couple of years, I still feel like a kid in a candy store when I step inside one.

More Snapshots:
Snapshots from the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Snapshots from My Brooklyn Apartment

Snapshots from Albertine Books on 5th Avenue

by Jackie D on March 4, 2015

albertine2I’ve been dealing with this New York winter the way I deal with most situations in which I am cold: pouting a bit and indulging in wine. This year, however, I’ve upgraded the process to include pretty buildings — I figure that on the off chance that the pouting and wine don’t work, I might as well find a warm, pretty place where I can sit inside and try to forget about how miserable the weather is outdoors.

I came across a photo of Albertine Books on my tumblr feed and knew immediately I had to go. It was a photo of the ceiling that drew my interest — a royal blue mural of stars, planets, and constellations. It reminded me of the turquoise, constellation-lined ceiling of Grand Central Terminal, which never fails to delight me even though I see it almost every single day.Albertine is the only bookshop in New York City devoted completely to books in both French and English, and it’s located within the Payne Whitney mansion on 5th Avenue, right across from Central Park. I love this description of the store’s purpose on its website:

“The space reflects its belief in the power of literature and the humanities to increase understanding and friendship across borders, and in the power of books as a common good for a better world.”albertine1The design for the ceiling was inspired by a Medici villa from the 1500s and was completely hand-painted, and in the entryway to the shop there are statues and busts of important figures from French history. When I first stepped inside from the snow, I made eye-contact with the gentleman at the reception desk and I must have had a really apologetic expression on my face — sorry that my boots were wet and icy, sorry that I had disturbed the perfect quiet atmosphere of this pristine place — but he smiled at me, said something in French, and motioned for me to make myself at home.
albertine4He has no idea how lucky he is that I didn’t act on my instinct to take his welcome literally and set up camp in this beautiful little place forever. It was a pretty close call.

More Snapshots:
Snapshots from a First Trip to Switzerland
Snapshots from The Metropolitan Museum of Art