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End of Summer Museum Round-up: Part 2

A. E. Colas, Contributing Writer, August 28, 2017

As we were saying last week (Museum Round-up: Part 1), New York’s small museums are a welcome change from the super colossal blockbuster art event. Unusual subject matter plus ingenious displays add up to an experience that speaks to both the novice and the sophisticated visitor. In the second of this two part series, ZEALnyc gives you five additional places that consistently provide opportunities to meet a subject or idea on an intimate level. We think they’re terrific and hope you’ll take some time to visit them.

‘La Cena’ Collograph (1991) 138 x 300 cm Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate; courtesy of El Museo Del Barrio.

El Museo Del Barrio (1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street) showcases the wide ranging art and culture of Puerto Ricans as well as all Latin Americans in the United States. This summer’s exhibits include NKAME: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón, OCCUPY MUSEUMS: Debtfair and uptown: nasty women/bad hombres (all on view until November 5). Ayón was an innovative artist in Cuba, in using the technique of collography printing (a format that uses textural materials to create the print instead of a plate) as well as in her subject matter of an all male secret society with roots in the 19th century slave trade of the Caribbean. Her art has many references to gender, social, and political ideas even though she was working within the restrictions of the communist regime of Cuba. OCCUPY MUSEUMS: Debtfair continues a dialogue that began at The Whitney Museum of American Art’s biennial show. In this chapter, various artists discuss the effect of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis with an emphasis on the artistic community of the island. uptown: nasty women/bad hombres is part of a new initiative in the New York art world called Uptown Triennial. Anchored by The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, the Triennial exhibition focuses on the artists living and working in the upper Manhattan region. El Barrio’s contribution is a group show of artists discussing social and political issues, with no topic off limits. For details about all the exhibitions click here.

The Neue Galerie (1048 Fifth Avenue at 86th Street) presents Richard Gerstl (until September 25), an Austrian Expressionist unlike any other. His strong portraits pack an emotional punch – and look as though they could have been painted yesterday, not one hundred years ago. The museum has over fifty pieces on display, many on view for the first time in the United States. The other show here this summer is Austrian Masterworks from the Neue Galerie New York (until September 25), a fifteenth anniversary celebration of the museum. The many gems of this exhibit include a large collection of Gustav Klimt drawings and paintings, including two portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer done five years apart. For more information click here.

E. G. Renesch: ‘Colored Man Is No Slacker’ (1918); The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.

The New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West at 77th Street) is one of the most interesting small museums in New York. Innovative displays of their extensive collections bring local and national history to life, sparking conversations and new ideas with every exhibit. World War I Beyond the Trenches (until September 3) is a collection of artworks and objects, contemporary and modern, created in response to the war. It’s an excellent survey of the war period with many issues having parallels in today’s world. On a lighter note, don’t forget to visit the delightful Eloise at the Museum (until October 9), about one of New York City’s most famous residents. Original designs, portraits, and sketches by Hilary Knight and manuscript pages by Kay Thompson bring The Plaza Hotel’s most notorious tenant to life. For everything you need to know about these exhibits, click here.

Illustration by David Claypoole Johnston; courtesy of the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum.

The Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden (421 East 61st Street) may be the most charming museum in New York City that you’ve never heard about. Besides the excellent guided tour for the permanent installation of period rooms, there is a small exhibit called The Rise of Newspapers in the 19th Century (until October 22) about the growing power of the press at that time. With many social and political questions being debated throughout the United States in the early 1800s, newspapers seized the opportunity to gain attention and gather support for various causes – very much as websites do today. To read all about it click here.

The China Institute (100 Washington Street, entrance at 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor) is offering a unique opportunity to see archeological treasures from a regional Chinese museum. In the exhibit Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou (until November 12) visitors can learn about the Chu Kingdom, part of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 8CE). Objects include statues, items to be used in the afterlife, jewelry, and more. The centerpiece of the show is a jade burial suit, used to protect the deceased. It is an astonishing work of craft and design consisting of 4,248 tiles and made from Khotan jade, one of the most precious forms of the stone. For more about the exhibit click here.


Cover: Exterior view of the Mount Vernon Hotel and Museum (1836); courtesy of the museum.


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