By Lavanya Sunkara
Some go on dates to museums, some go with their families or groups, but I go to spend alone time, to find a new perspective. An afternoon in a museum is like getting lost in history or looking ahead into the future or simply being present in the moment. A trip to any one of the museums in the city that is a melting pot of traditions and cultures is guaranteed to leave one changed.
Here is a selection of some spring exhibits in the city.
Tent Life: Haiti
Now - March 31, 2011
A year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, American photographer Wyatt Gallery brings us glimpses of Haitians and their lives in makeshift tent cities. Inspirational portraits show Haitians surviving, living, and working to rebuild their lives. The Umbrage Gallery has also published the photographs along with an essay by award winning Haitian American novelist Edwidge Danticat that will release in April. 100% of royalties from the book go to Haitian charities: J/P Haitian Relief Organization, Healing Haiti and the Global Syndicate.
111 Front St., Suite 208, Brooklyn, 212-796-2707;
Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography
March 7- April 4, 2011
In celebration of Women’s History Month, MoMa, a museum established in 1929 by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and her friends who were known as “the daring ladies”, presents a selection of over two hundred photographs by women artists. This exhibition features masterworks and new acquisitions by such figures as Diane Arbus, Berenice Abbott, Claude Cahun and Imogen Cunningham among others. The exhibition, which is made possible by the Modern Women’s Fund, is in conjunction with MoMA’s publication of “Modern Women: Women Artists at The Museum of Modern Art” last year.
11 West 53rd St., 212- 708-9400; www.moma.org
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents
March 8 - August 21, 2011
In this unique installation, you will find creative re-imaginings of the iconic African mask from the nineteenth-century, modern, contemporary art by artists from Africa, Europe and America. The exhibition will include works in a variety of media such as a photomontage by German Dada artist Hannah Höch, the iconic photograph Noire et Blanche by Man Ray, a series of photographs by Cameroon-born Angèle Etoundi Essamba and sculptural and photographic works by American artist Willie Cole.
1000 5th Avenue at 82nd St., 212-535-7710;
Rubin Museum: Art of the Himalayas
March 11 - December 31, 2012
Works of art depicting a wide range of Buddhist and Hindu deities as well as the museum’s notable recent collection from the Himalayan and neighboring cultural traditions spanning over a period of thousand years are on display. The collection showcases the stylistic diversity and relationships between these different strands of traditions. Most of the pieces have rarely or never been exhibited. Some of the pieces include- life-size photographic reproductions of an entire sequence of murals from the Lukhang Temple and the Dalai Lamas’ secret temple near the Potala Palace in Tibet.
150 West at 17th St., 212- 620-5000; www.rmanyc.org
Museum of Art and Design
A Bit of Clay on the Skin: New Ceramic Jewelry
March 15 - September 4, 2011
This exhibit presents visually engaging works of ceramics, in particular, of porcelain in jewelry, which varying in color and texture can be modeled or cast, used alone or with metal, wood and stone. Showcasing the work of 18 jewelry artists, including creations by such notables as Peter Hoogeboom, Evert Nijland, Ted Noten, Gésine Hackenberg, Marie Pendariès, and Shu-Lin Wu, the exhibit will surely leave the visitor with an appreciation for porcelain as an alluring material for jewelry.
2 Columbus Circle, 212-299-7777; www.madmuseum.org
Morgan Library & Museum
The Changing Face of William Shakespeare
Now - May 1, 2011
Shakespeare fans have a chance to view a rare portrait painting of the playwright that hung unrecognized for centuries in an Irish country house belonging to the Cobbe family. Due to its superior quality, significant resemblances in costume and design to Martin Droeshout’s engraving of Shakespeare published in the First Foloi (1623), the oil painting is considered to be an original and is claimed to be the only surviving life-time portrait of William Shakespeare. The collection also has on view for the first time in the US a recently acquired “Ellenborough” portrait of Shakespeare, the privately owned Fitzgerald portrait of Shakespeare and the Morgan’s first folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1623) among others.
225 Madison Ave at 36th St., 212- 447-7625;
Museum of the City of New York
Moveable Feast: Fresh Produce and the NYC Green Carts Program
March 22 - July 10, 2011
Green Carts, an innovative NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene program, provides underserved communities access to fresh fruits and vegetables through hundreds of independently owned mobile produce stands. The Moveable Feast exhibition features a collection of Green Carts photographs ranging in styles from portraiture to landscape to street photography that captured not only the carts, but also the stories of the vendors, customers and their communities taken over the course of the year. The exhibition is organized with help from the Illumination Fund and the Aperture Foundation, a not-for-profit devoted to photography and the visual arts.
1220 5th Avenue, 212- 534-1672; www.mcny.org