Surrounded by blossoming cherry trees in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the vast Queens Museum takes up 105,000 square feet. Inside we met our guide Gregory, who was warm, welcoming and as eager to answer our questions as he was to share his knowledge.
Gregory’s goal was to give us a “taste” of the extensive exhibits, so we could get a good overview.
He started with the building’s rich history. Originally created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, it was also the first home of the United Nations, an ice skating and roller rink, a pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, and finally, the Queens Museum in 1972.
And oh, the collections. Our first stop was Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction. We saw a sensual painting of an astronaut in love, and a tapestry with a QR code at its center – a digital/traditional combo.
Next was a contemporary painting on a 40-foot tall wall near the museum’s entrance. Pulsing with color and life, it is the work of Liz Phillips and her daughter, Heidi Howard, called Relative Fields in a Garden. You can hear as well as see the piece: there are sounds of birds, a river, even bamboo (Who knew bamboo had a sound?)
Brilliantly colored Tiffany lamps proved that Tiffany is truly a Queens experience. While most glass lamp artists worked in Brooklyn, Louis C. Tiffany moved his factory to Queens in 1878. Here, for the first time, color was embedded in the glass, not painted on the glass, which is why Tiffany lamps are so exquisite.
The Panorama of New York City’s five boroughs is the museum’s beloved jewel. This 9,335-square foot scale model (one inch equals 100 feet) was created for the 1964 World’s Fair. The 895,000 individual structures include everything from the Brooklyn Bridge to Nathan’s Hot Dogs in Coney Island, from Grand Central Station to Yankee Stadium, and even a moving airplane that lands at LaGuardia Airport. The museum chose to keep the Twin Towers to pay homage to them. Best of all, you can walk around the entire model.
The “taste” we experienced with Gregory made us want second and third helpings. Do not miss this satisfying experience. Call 718-592-9700 or visit queensmuseum.org/