Touring an Assyrian Palace at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Since the recent announcement of the travel ban here in the United States, a number of museums in New York City have found several ways to show dissent or show solidarity with people from the seven countries affected by the ban. For example, the Museum of Modern Art has a special exhibition of art by Muslim artists from the countries included in the travel ban. The Museum of the City of New York has focused on curating images of activism in the city, such as the use of the #activistny hashtag on Instagram, as part of an ongoing exhibition titled Activist New York. MCNY also has a new photography exhibition opening soon titled Muslim in New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a rich collection of art from Muslim countries, as well as other art from the ancient world that comes from the countries included in the ban. The Met programming has been more subtle than other NYC museums in this respect, but there is always great art on display from the ancient Middle East and historical Islamic world. And the museum regularly offers a tour of those galleries called Arts of the Islamic World.

Today, I thought I would take you on a tour of one of my favorite galleries in this part of the museum, Gallery 401. This gallery present carved stone reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled over the Assyrian empire (located in modern-day Iraq) from 883 to 859 B.C. Although the reliefs from a variety of locations within the palace originally, they are displayed as a single reception room with a high ceiling.

The first thing you are likely to notice as you enter the room are the statues on either side of the entrance – a winged bull and a winged lion, each with human heads.



There are also some magnificent reliefs along the other walls of the room. Here is just a sample of what you will see.








Although this isn’t a great photo of the reliefs, I thought the view of the group tour would give a better sense of the size of the room and the art.


If you get the chance to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I recommend that you explore this gallery in person – it’s worth the visit. The museum is located on Fifth Avenue at East 82nd Street.

Cooper Hewitt Design Museum’s Interactive Experience


Although most people associate Smithsonian museums with Washington, DC, New York City is host to two very special Smithsonian museums: the National Museum of the American Indian, which we’ve previously explored here and here, and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. Located in what was once the mansion of successful businessman Andrew Carnegie, Cooper Hewitt’s surroundings and ever-changing exhibitions are fascinating and inspiring.

What makes Cooper Hewitt particularly fun to visit is its interactive features. When visitors step up to the ticket counter, they are given an pen that holds all kinds of possibilities. As you tour the museum, you can “collect” information about individual exhibits that interest you. Each exhibit has a special symbol on the sign describing the exhibit and, by pressing your pen to that symbol, it saves that information in a digital file. You are given a unique identifier for your pen and visit that allows you to later go onto the museum’s website and “retrieve” your visit. All saved descriptions are on your own private page, along with photos of the items you were interested in. (Your personal website even allows you to type in notes about what you thought about each exhibit!) At the end of the visit, you return the pen to be reprogrammed for the next guest.

As you go through the museum, there are other places to use your interactive pen. For example, at some stations, guests can design their own furniture or decor, and then save that design to the same private page with the pen.


Here’s a futuristic lamp I designed:


In the Immersion Room, guests can use the pen to choose wallpaper patterns from an electronic library or design their own patterns, which are then projected on the room’s walls. (I didn’t design a pattern myself, but here are photos showing what another visitor designed.)



There are a variety of exhibitions focusing on both historical and modern design, broadly defined. One of my favorite exhibitions is part of an ongoing exhibition series titled Selects. The current exhibition, titled Thom Browne Selects, consists of a room wallpapered in holographic foil, nickel-plated shoes, 50 mirrors chosen by the fashion designer from the museum’s collection, along with a number of other shiny objects. The room makes a real visual impact, and the composition makes it fun to photograph. Thom Browne Selects is the 13th exhibition in the Selects series, and I am interested in seeing what follows it when the exhibition ends on October 23, 2016.




Here are some of the things that really caught my attention in the other exhibitions during my last visit. They are an eclectic mix – interesting, beautiful, though-provoking, unique. I’ve identified the designer in the caption for each photograph. Many of the museum’s exhibitions change regularly – some of these pieces may not be on display much longer, but they will be replaced with other equally intriguing objects.

Snail Brooch designed by Gebrüder Hemmerle and Hemmerle, 2014
Snail Brooch designed by Gebrüder Hemmerle and Hemmerle, 2014
Photograph, Hairstyle 2, 2011, designed by Guido Palau and photographed by Fabien Baron
Photograph, Hairstyle 2, 2011, designed by Guido Palau and photographed by Fabien Baron
Pieces from Atmospheric Reentry Collection, 2013-2014, designed by Maiko Takeda
Wallpaper, 2014, designed by Studio Job, Dutch, founded 1998, Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel and manufactured by NLXL
Wallpaper, 2014, designed by Studio Job, Dutch, founded 1998, Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel and manufactured by NLXL
Chanin Building Pair Of Gates, designed by René Paul Chambellan
Clock Prototype, A Million Times, 288 H, 2013, designed by Humans since 1982, Per Emanuelsson, and Bastian Bischoff
Bubbles Chaise Lounge, ca. 1988, designed by Frank O. Gehry and manufactured by New City Editions
Bubbles Chaise Lounge, ca. 1988, designed by Frank O. Gehry and manufactured by New City Editions
Horseman Bench, from Kassena Town series, 2015, designed by Dokter and Misses, Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin
Horseman Bench, from Kassena Town series, 2015, designed by Dokter and Misses, Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin

This exhibit designed by Jenny E. Sabin, the Polythread Knitted Textile Pavilion, was beautiful – almost magical to walk under, with its soft tones and delicate textures.



I particularly loved these imaginative beaded creatures that are part of the Azeaks series. As the museum’s description of these sculptures explains:

“The beads are assembled by women from the Khayelitsha settlement outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Known as The Haas Sisters, they collaborate with The Haas Brothers on the realization of these remarkable pieces.”

Sculpture, Fartin Odeur, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculpture, Fartin Odeur, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculpture, Evelyn, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculpture, Evelyn, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculpture, Nangamso, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculpture, Nangamso, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculpture, Bill Nyeland, from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculptures, Bill Nyeland (yellow and orange) and Nonzaliseko #1 (pink), from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculptures, Gomer Pyeland (left) and Theodora (right), from the Afreaks series, 2015
Sculptures, Gomer Pyeland (left) and Theodora (right), from the Afreaks series, 2015

Of course, the museum’s past history as Andrew Carnegie’s mansion makes the building itself very interesting. The mansion, built between 1899 and 1902, is on the National Register of Historic Places, both because of its history and its architectural significance. (The mansion’s steel frame construction was the first of its kind for an American residential building, and it also boasted one of the first Otis elevators and earliest central heating systems in a private home.)  If you pay close attention, you will see many fine details illustrating the building’s past use. (Lighting creates some challenging for photographing those details, as you can see!)

Ceiling and wood paneling in the Entrance Hall
Plasterwork and stained glass transom windows in first floor room
Plasterwork and stained glass transom windows in first floor room
Interactive design lab in room with wall and ceiling details
Interactive design lab in room with wall and ceiling details
Upstairs landing, main staircase
Upstairs landing, main staircase

Want to visit Cooper Hewitt yourself? The museum is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 91st Street. If traveling by subway, take the 4, 5, or 6 train to the 86th Street Station. You can also take the 6 train to the 96th Street Station. When you come up from the subway, you will want to walk west three blocks from Lexington Avenue to Fifth Avenue, and then along Fifth Avenue to the museum. You can also reach Cooper Hewitt by MTA bus. If traveling north (uptown), take the M1, M2, M3, or M4 along Madison Avenue to the 91st Street stop. You will walk west one block to get to the museum. If traveling south (downtown), take the M1, M2, M3, or M4 along Fifth Avenue to either the 90th Street or 92 Street stop.

Note: If you are used to the free entrance policy for most Smithsonian museums, it is worth noting that Cooper Hewitt charges an entry fee. Visitors save $2.00 per ticket by purchasing tickets in advance online.

Coney Island Art Walls

Imagine an outdoor museum of street art, open and free to visitors. That is exactly what the creators of the Coney Island Art Walls at Brooklyn’s Coney Island have envisioned. For the second year, an otherwise empty concrete lot has been transformed into a host for a variety of murals. Many of the murals draw inspiration from Coney Island-related themes, such as carnival side shows, amusement parks, and mermaids, but there are many other themes as well.


Each mural has special lighting for evening viewing, and, similar to a traditional museum, each mural has a name plate identifying the artist. For those who don’t regularly follow street artists, the name plates are especially nice, as many street artists do not sign their work.

Here are some photos of my favorite murals from this year’s Coney Island Art Walls.

Artist: Aiko
Artist: Nina Chanel Abney
Artist: The London Police
Close-up of mural detail by The London Police
Artist: D*Face
Artist: Triston Eaton
Artist: eL SEED
Artist: Marie Roberts
Artist: Marie Roberts
Artist: Gaia
Artist: Gaia
Part of large mural by Tats Cru
Part of large mural by Tats Cru
Part of large mural by Tats Cru
Part of large mural by Tats Cru

There are a couple of really interesting 3-dimensional works.

Artist: John Ahearn
Close-up of details of mural by John Ahearn
Artist: Stephen Powers
Artist: Stephen Powers
Close-up of detail from mural by Stephen Powers
Close-up of detail from mural by Stephen Powers

There’s even this poem by Jessica Diamond:


Coney Island Art Walls offers more than street art – there’s also a “food court” of sorts, with several dining options. Each vendor is set up in a converted shipping container, and there is plenty of seating available.



For those who want to revisit their childhood, the Coney Island Art Walls is also host to the open-air Dreamland Roller Rink, which holds two open skating sessions on Sundays (4-7 pm, and 7-10 pm). The theme is roller disco, and skaters are encouraged to dress in clothing from the 70’s and 80’s. Imagine roller skating in the shadows of great street art! As you can tell from the photos above, there’s plenty of other activities nearby as well, including amusement parks and the beach.

To get to the Coney Island Art Walls, take the D, F, N, or Q trains to the Coney Island/Stillwell Avenue station. (While you’re at the station, take a look at the art onsite, which I’ve previously written about here.) Walk down Stillwell Avenue past Nathan’s Hot Dogs towards the beach. You will spot the Coney Island Art Walls after you’ve walked about a block.

Fashion at the Jewish Museum: Isaac Mizrahi Exhibition


The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute has some pretty amazing exhibitions, and as a result most people who decide to go to a museum to explore fashion design immediately think of the Met. But there are other great options in the city as well, including the Fashion Institute of Technology’s museum and a wonderful temporary exhibition at the Jewish Museum. The Jewish Museum’s exhibition, on view through August 7, 2016, is titled Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, and includes numerous beautiful designs, as well as some behind-the-scenes exhibits about his design process.

Here are a few photos showing some of the designs in the exhibition.





I particularly liked this dress from 1994, made of hand-created aluminum “sequins” cut from Coca-Cola cans. I thought the design was innovative and resourceful. The dress has an interesting story behind it as well. According to the exhibition description next to this dress, a charity called “We Can” paid homeless New Yorkers to collect and flatten the Coca-Cola cans, before the cans were then sent to Paris to be turned into sequins for the dress.


I also enjoyed these costumes designed for opera and theater productions.



And here’s one shot of a few of Mizhari’s design sketches. I found this part of the exhibition very interesting.


How can you get to the Jewish Museum? The museum is located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The closest subway stop is the 96th Street station, accessible from the 6 train. You can also take the M1, M2, M3, or M4 bus to the Madison Ave./E. 91st St. stop if heading uptown, or the 5th Ave./E. 92nd St. stop if heading downtown. Note: The Jewish Museum is free to the public on Saturdays, although its cafe is closed on Saturdays in observation of the Jewish Sabbath.

Martin Wong at the Bronx Museum of the Arts

Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts for the first time. I know I’ve said this before about other museums I’ve visited, but I think the Bronx Museum may become one of my favorite museums in the city! On this visit, I explored an incredible exhibition – Martin Wong: Human Instamatic. Chinese American painter Martin Wong (1946-1999) was born in Portland, Oregon, but spent his childhood in San Francisco. After moving to New York City in 1978, Wong spent much of the rest of his adult life living and painting in New York City, and his paintings reflect that influence.

The exhibition is truly magnificent, with more than 90 paintings and other materials that span Wong’s career as an artist. It’s clear from his works that the city, with its complexities, its grit, and its diversity, inspired him. I want to give a small sample of those paintings here, but, if you get the chance, you really should go see the entire exhibit yourself. I know I’ll be back before the exhibition ends on February 14, 2016.

This first painting comes from the first gallery in the exhibition, and was painted in the early years after Wong’s move to New York, while he was living in Meyer’s Hotel in lower Manhattan. It is titled “Tell My Troubles to the Eight Ball (Eureka),” dated 1978-1981.


This second painting, “The Flood,” 1984, has two elements that are repeated in many of Wong’s works: the detailed brickwork, so common in many old New York City tenement buildings, and the firemen. I find this particular painting striking because of the prominent hand of the Statue of Liberty, holding her torch high – but made of brick, like the tenements.


This next painting shows two other elements that Wong often used: American sign language and newspaper headlines about criminal cases.  This painting is titled “Courtroom Shocker: Jimmy the Weasil Sings Like a Canary,” 1981.


And here’s one final painting from the Martin Wong exhibition, utilizing Chinatown as inspiration. It’s titled “Canal Street,” 1992. If you look closely, you will also see Wong’s small self-portrait in this work.


While I was at the museum, there was also another excellent exhibition, called (de)(re)construction. The exhibition includes a number of works from the museum’s permanent collection, but is only on exhibit through January 10, 2016. I’ll leave you with one photo of a work from the (de)(re)construction exhibit, Mary Heilmann’s “Monochromatic Chairs,” 2015. One reason why I love this particular work of art actually comes from the description of the piece, which includes this quote by Heilmann: “Museums are places to hang out.” And these chairs invite visitors to do just that!


To get to the Bronx Museum by subway, take the B or D trains to the 167th Street station. (The D does not stop at 167th Street at all times–double check the MTA website for more information.) You can also take the 4 train to the 161st Street/Yankee Stadium station, but the walk is a bit further. Keep an eye out for the painted murals at the corner of Grand Concourse and 166th Street. The black and white portrait is of DJ Kool Herc, commonly credited as the father of hip hop music in the Bronx in the 1970s. There are several colorful murals as well.

DJ Kool Herc mural

New York Transit Museum

I make no secret of my love of New York City’s public transportation system, which is why I recently had to visit the New York Transit Museum. Part of what makes the museum such a fun place to visit is its location – it’s in a retired subway station in downtown Brooklyn. Here’s the museum entrance. Doesn’t it look promising already?


Once you go below ground, you pay for admission at a vintage station master’s booth before entering the first exhibit. Most of the museum’s exhibits are on the mezzanine level of the historic station. The first exhibit was a fascinating one: “Steel, Stone, and Backbone: Building New York’s Subways, 1900-1925.” I gained a new appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices that went into creating the New York City subway system, as well as the technological challenges and risk to human life. Every time I go through one of the tunnels under the East River now, I remember the exhibit’s explanation of the compressed air chambers used during the construction process.


The exhibit also does a good job of exploring the diverse people who contributed to the subway system’s construction – men and women, immigrants and African Americans among them.

There is also a new exhibit called “Bringing Back the City,” which explores how the transit system has been affected by and responded to times of crisis. There are artifacts related to the September 11 attacks;  the 2003 power blackout in the Northeastern United States, which temporarily shut down the subway system and left riders stranded; Hurricane Irene is 2011; and Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Among the exhibit artifacts, I was struck by this flood bench example. I’ve seen flood benches at numerous locations near the subways, but never knew their purpose or origins. The benches, both practical and sculptural, let air travel into subway vents but prevent rainwater from flooding the subway system.


There are many interactive exhibits for children (and interesting for adults as well). Here are examples of turnstiles (still working) from every period in the subway system’s history.


Visitors can step into a station master’s booth, pretending to help subway riders.


In the exhibit, “On the Streets: New York’s Trolleys and Buses,” visitors can sit in the driver’s seat and pretend to drive models of city buses.


Once you finish the exhibits located on the mezzanine level, head down the stairs to the track level. Although the station is no longer active, the tracks are still there – and full of vintage train cars. (The MTA has a number of these vintage cars, which are sometimes used for special events. I wrote previously about the vintage train rides offered each December before Christmas.) If you’re a fan of vintage trains or simply someone who likes public transportation like me, you will enjoy seeing the train cars. Both car exteriors and interiors are very different from the subway cars in use today, and the vintage advertising is fun to read as well. The museum also offers a highlights tour on the weekends, which includes the subway cars. You will notice one of those gallery talks in progress in the photos below.





What’s the best way to get to the New York Transit Museum? By subway, of course! Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 trains to Borough Hall; the R to Court Street; the A, F, and R to Jay Street-MetroTech (and the C as well, during weekday rush hours only); or the A or G to Hoyt Street-Schermerhorn Street.

Museum of Bronx History


Not long ago I went to the Museum of Bronx History for the first time. Located in the Valentine-Varian House, the Museum is part of the Bronx Historical Society. The house was originally built in 1758, making it more than 250 years old, and is the second oldest house still standing in the Bronx.

Although the museum is small, the exhibits are very informative, and the staff is knowledgeable and engaging. Originally built as a farmhouse, the Valentine-Varian House was occupied by both sides at various times during the American Revolution. You can learn more about the house’s history during a visit, including how the building was moved to its current location during the 1960s.


The other exhibits relate to the long and complex history of the Bronx. I must admit I didn’t know as much about Bronx history as I do about other boroughs, and I learned a lot from my visit. The Bronx’s rich history goes back to Dutch times, and has maintained rich and diverse cultural traditions over the centuries.

Part of that history is represented by this wooden malt shovel, used in a Bronx brewery prior to Prohibition. I didn’t know until I toured the museum that there was strong brewery tradition in the Bronx, primary created by German immigrants who settled there in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The industry grew to 19 breweries before it was disrupted by Prohibition in the 1920s.


One of the most fascinating parts of the museum’s exhibits, at least to me, was the part that traced the economic decline of the South Bronx in the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in the decimation of the population in that area and arson-related property destruction. The exhibit then explores efforts to rebuild the South Bronx – efforts that have complex ramifications, both positive and negative. The museum does a good job exploring this recent part of Bronx history, and I engaged in an informative and thought-provoking discussion with the museum staffer who was working on that Saturday afternoon.

There is also one other thing to see while you’re at the museum, located on the museum’s grounds – the statue of the Bronx River Soldier. The granite statue was created by sculptor John Grignola in the late 1890s to commemorate Bronx soldiers who served in the Civil War.


Although the Museum of Bronx History is small, I really enjoyed it. The exhibits are not extensive, and it doesn’t take a huge amount of time to tour the museum, but my conversation with the museum staffer greatly enriched the experience. And I learned that the Bronx Historical Society also offers popular walking tours of various Bronx neighborhoods – something that I will definitely have to do in the future!

If you’re traveling to the Museum of Bronx History by subway, you can take the 4 Train to Mosholu Parkway, or the D to the Norwood-205th Street station.

“Daze” Exhibit at Museum of the City of New York

Looking for art that is quintessential New York City? Look no further than the art of Chris “Daze” Ellis, currently on exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. Daze’s work is a marriage of street and studio art, drawing upon his subway graffiti art experience as a teenager in the 1970s. The City Museum’s exhibition spans Daze’s career in includes a range of his work throughout the years. Called The City is My Muse, the exhibit really demonstrates how an artist can draw inspiration from New York City life in all its manifestations.

There were several paintings inspired by Coney Island, and those paintings spanned different time periods in Daze’s art as well. Here’s one titled “Cyclone Drop,” painted in 2011. This painting shows the spray painting technique more prevalent in street art, as well as the detailed oil and acrylic work more commonly done in the studio. The result: as I looked at the painting, I felt like I was almost on the roller coaster myself.


Some of Daze’s paintings portray aspects of the character of Times Square, with its feelings of frenetic energy and bright colors. “The Duel,” painted in 2012, is one example of those works. The painting features two things I most associate with Times Square – yellow taxis and neon billboards.


Other paintings seem to draw from Daze’s past as a street artist, such as this one with a subway station setting, titled “Whitlock Avenue” (2010). I particularly liked the technique used on the man’s body, where the paint ran down the canvas.


These are just a few of the pieces that you can see if you visit the exhibit. If you have the chance, I definitely recommend that you visit the Museum of the City of New York before The City is My Muse ends on May 1, 2016. (There are also some other great exhibitions at the museum, all with a New York City connection.)

How can you get to the City Museum by public transportation? To travel by subway, take the 6 train to the 103rd Street Station. You can also get there by bus – just take the M1, M3, or M4 to Madison Avenue and 104th Street, and then walk one block west to Fifth Avenue. While you are in the area, check out the nearby El Museo del Barrio as well. You get tickets to both museums with your entrance price, and El Museo de Barrio has some really good exhibits as well.

Museum of Jewish Heritage

One rainy day not long ago I decided to visit the Museum of Jewish Heritage, located near Battery Park in Manhattan. I’m not Jewish, but many of my friends and neighbors are. Historically, Jewish immigrants and their descendants have been a very important part of New York City’s history. It is impossible to fully know the city without knowing more about its diverse inhabitants, and a visit to the Museum of Jewish Heritage can be one part of that learning process.

I expected that touring the museum would be a moving experience because of its focus on the Holocaust during World War II, and it was. (The Museum calls itself “a living memorial to the Holocaust.”) But I also gained a greater understanding of Jewish life in the United States and Europe before, during, and after the Holocaust, and I left the museum with a real sense of hope for the future–hope because of the resilience of Jews who experienced the Holocaust firsthand and the successes of their descendants, and hope also because the museum also seeks to educate its visitors about how to recognize and battle against injustice today, whether again Jews or other targeted populations.


I really liked the way that the Museum is set up. The core exhibit is in a part of the building that has six sides, like the Star of David. It is three stories tall, and each level has its own role. The first floor focuses on Jewish life in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, looking at Jewish family and community life in both Europe and here in New York City. Most of the museum’s exhibits do not lend themselves easily to photography, so I don’t have many photographs. The core exhibits contain a lot of little “gems,” special artifacts that only have meaning when you pay closer attention. If you listen to their messages, you gain an understanding of the hopes, dreams, and fears of many individuals, as well as the collective spirit of an entire group of people.

I loved this exhibit discussing New York marriage ceremonies and attire. The long shirt on the left is known as a “groom’s gown,” called a kittel. The exhibit explained that, in some communities, the groom would wear the kittel during the wedding ceremony as a symbol of purity. This particular kittel came from Romania and was dated early 20th century. The dress on the right was worn by Sadye Lazarus Bernard during her wedding in Brooklyn on June 19, 1924. It is a beautiful dress that reflects the design influences of that era.


The second floor of the core exhibit focuses primarily on the experiences of European Jews in the 1930s and during World War II, including the Holocaust. These exhibits personalize the Jewish experience during this terrible era, putting names and faces on the many people who were murdered or survived terrible conditions. One exhibit that I found interesting explained how Jews who wanted to emigrate from Germany to other countries during the 1930s would train in particular skills that they hoped would earn them a living in their new country. For example, Else Sachs learned how to make felt flowers, used as trim for hats and other fashion items, while waiting for visas so that she and her daughter could emigrate to the United States. The flowers in the photograph below, made by Else in the late 1930s, accompanied the exhibit.


Other artifacts on the second floor were more poignant, especially some of the children’s possessions. This small, stuffed rabbit grabbed my attention immediately. It belonged to 12-year-old Ludwig Biermann, who carried the rabbit with him when he was deported with his parents from Berlin to the Terezin Ghetto in Czechoslovakia in 1943. The exhibit explained that Ludwig and his mother survived the war, but his father died in the Ghetto.


The third floor core exhibit focuses on Jewish history and culture since World War II, although there is also an exhibit that traces the history of the town of Oświęcim, which the Germans called Auschwitz, in Poland. Among some of the important exhibits on this floor was one that described the experiences of many Jews who lived for years in refugee camps after the war ended, something that I’ve never heard much about before. There were also some interesting artifacts associated with Jewish-American culture in New York. Among my favorites was this brass “Liberty” Menorah, which was made by Manfred Anson for the Statute of Liberty centennial in 1986.


In addition to the core exhibits, there are several other interesting exhibits at the Museum, including a fine exhibit chronicling the Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals in Germany between 1933 and 1945, as well as an exhibit detailing the contributions of Jewish designers to midcentury modernism. There is also a striking outdoor garden, the Garden of Stones designed by Andy Goldworthy. Both interior and exterior architecture contribute to the Museum’s overall atmosphere. This photograph show one perspective of part of the museum, with a small part of the Garden of Stones shown in the lower portion of the image. (Alas, the rainy day prevented me from fully exploring the Garden–another reason to go back again soon!)


On the third floor, I found the Keeping History Center, with its glorious views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty. Part of the Keeping History Center is the Voices of Liberty project, which collects the stories of Holocaust survivors, refugees, and others who choose to make the United States their home. The view from the Center on a rainy day may not be as scenic as it is when the weather is nice (as you can see from the foggy, drizzly photograph below), but on the day I visited it was a quiet, meditative space–exactly what I needed at the time.


The Museum of Jewish Heritage is not to be missed–I learned much during my visit, and it is one of those places where you can return again and again, gaining something new from each trip. If the weather is good, it would be a good day trip to combine with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, as the Museum is close to Battery Park, where you can catch the Statue of Liberty Ferry. Many of the Jews who settled in New York City came through Ellis Island, so it would be a meaningful way to round out your understanding of that immigration story as well.

How do you get to the Museum of Jewish Heritage? As you can tell from this blog, I prefer public transit. The Museum is located next to Battery Park, near the southern tip of Manhattan. A number of subway lines will get you close to the Museum. You can take the 4 or the 5 to the Bowling Green Station, the 1 or the R train to Rector Street, the R to Whitehall Street, or the J or Z train to Broad Street. The Museum also provides additional directions here, on its website.