Posts Tagged ‘MOMA New York’

MoMA NYC: Still Pretty Dim

November 30, 2012

On a recent trip to New York City, we stopped in at the Museum of Modern Art. An otherwise interesting exhibition on the work of the Brothers Quay was marred by a series of ridiculously unreadable labels in a gallery that featured the artists’ dioramas.

bros q dim label

Yes, there’s a label in that murk. The image was taken using the available light in the gallery.

If a visitor came equipped with night-vision goggles, a flashlight, or the eyes of a nocturnal creature, a label might look like this:

q b lit

For most of us, however, it looked like this:

bq black

This is the opposite of access, comfort, and common sense. There is no excuse for it.



MOMA: Oh, not much, just visiting some Abstract Expressionists

November 22, 2010

The current Abstract Expressionist show at MOMA in New York has, I am pleased to report, a bench in just about every room of the exhibition.

What interested us, apart from an apparent change in attitude with regard to seating at MOMA (from almost none to more than adequate, at least for this show), was one particular pattern of use that we had not seen before.

Many visitors sat in order to gaze at the work more closely, and/or to rest. But some used the bench as an opportunity to interact with a handheld device.

From what we could see, these were not audio tour players, but smart phones or Blackberry-like devices. Users seemed to be checking messages or texts, or actually texting in at least one instance.

Are these simply visitors who are unable to be out of touch for more than a few minutes? Or is it another form of leaving the room and chilling out – changing gaze and focus not by looking out of a window, but into a window? Or both?

MOMA New York – Please be seated in front of the Monets

November 16, 2010

On a recent visit to MOMA in New York, we were pleased to discover that the gallery with the huge Monet water lillies had seating once again.

The water lilly seating went away when the museum was redesigned and rebuilt a few years ago. Now it’s been restored, and visitors were using it eagerly on the day we visited.

MOMA seems to be doing better on seating in general. More on that in a future post.

Ticket price as a barrier to museum access, Part 1: Art museums

December 28, 2009

How can museums, zoos, and other cultural institutions stay in business while serving visitors whose finances are limited? When does the price of admission become a barrier to access?

Anyone who’s worked in and around museums can tell you that free days generally bring in not only a larger crowd, but people who seem to have less disposable income than the usual run of visitors.

When I worked at the Exploratorium in the early 2000’s, the contrast between free first Wednesdays and the rest of the month was striking. It was the busiest day of the month, hands down; the crowd was much more racially mixed and on the whole looked much less affluent. There were more couples who looked to be in their teens and early twenties, as opposed to the usual parent/guardian types with children. There were also busloads of kids and their chaperones from schools and day camps all over northern California that likely couldn’t pay the museum’s group rates.

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and get involved with the exhibits as much as any other set of visitors, though. To my eye — and I must emphasize that I have no research to back this up — this was a crowd that stayed away from the Exploratorium on every other day of the month not out of lack of interest, but because they couldn’t afford it.

I suspect that this is true for museums, zoos, and aquariums across the United States. To get a sense of whether this might be the case, I did a quick survey of admission prices at a small sample of leading art and science museums across the country.

Some provisos: I did not include pay-what-you-will museums (the Met in New York, although you wouldn’t know it from their signage or website), or free ones (the Smithsonians in Washington, the Gettys in LA, which do charge for parking but even then are a bargain). I did not take into account free/reduced admission times, package deals, or membership deals and prices. These are just basic, walk-up retail prices.

Based on the general admission price for adults, seniors, and students, I calculated the cost of admission for a family of four,: two adults, one senior, one youth/student. Here are the results for my sample art museums:

MoMA, New York: $68

Guggenheim, New York: $51

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: $65.50

Art Institute of Chicago: $48

Philadelphia Museum of Art: $58

Denver Art Museum: $31 (Colorado residents), $41 (non-residents)

LACMA, Los Angeles: $32

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: $39

Average cost of admission, family of four: $50. Not including parking/transit, food, special exhibits, museum store, etc. 

We’ll look at science museums in Part 2.

MOMA New York: Lobby follies

December 1, 2009

One of the more annoying aspects of a visit to the old, pre-renovation Museum of Modern Art in New York was the coat check: a narrow, dim, corridor that could only hold a few people at a time. On a cold, rainy day, with most visitors checking something, it was crowded, confused, and chaotic.

Comes the much-heralded renovation, and voila: the old coat check experience has not only been replicated, but made even more unpleasant.

This was what it looked like on a mild mid-autumn day. Crowded? Yes. Dim? Check. Confusing? You bet. Hmm –what’s missing? I know: narrow! 

It’s not even clear how you’re supposed to get there from the lobby proper.

A popsicle stand at the coat check exit directing visitors to the entrance: a sure sign of intrinsically confusing design. Many visitors ignore this sign and enter here anyway, inadvertently jumping the line.

Meanwhile, out in the lobby, an example of dichotomous, able-bodied vs. handicapped thinking: a separate “handicapped” ramp.

Perhaps this is a naive question, but if a ramp and handrail arrangement works for so-called handicapped visitors, why would it not work for all visitors? Or if a large proportion prefer stairs, why not split it fifty-fifty? Why create a narrow cattle chute for the people with the wheelchairs and walkers? And strollers? And rolling luggage? Or who feel unsteady on stairs? Etcetera. This is really backwards thinking for the mid-oughts.