Transportation Note: For the East Side museums, the best thing to do is start at the Neue Galerie (Fifth Avenue and 86th Street) and take the Fifth Avenue bus downtown to the other museums. They are never more than a few blocks away from a bus stop. It would require a lot of endurance to do all the East Side museums in one day; it’s possible, but not desirable.
Neue Galerie, 1048 Fifth Avenue (at 86th Street)
Warning: their website can be very slow sometimes.
Hours: Thursday - Monday, 11 am - 6 pm; (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
Admission: $15 General; $10 Students and Seniors. The museum is free from 6 - 8 pm on the first Friday of every month.
Photography is only permitted on the ground floor and lower level of the building; you are not allowed to enter the museum with bottled water - they make you throw it away!
|Installation view, Vienna 1900: Style and Identity, Neue Galerie|
|Cafe Sabarsky, Neue Galerie.|
Currently on view (only until August 8th) is an ambitious exhibition, Vienna 1900: Style and Identity,
that aims to: reveal a common thread running through the fine and decorative arts in turn-of-the-century Vienna: the redefinition of individual identity in the modern age. The show explores the newly-evolving attitudes about gender and sexuality, and it's especially interesting in that it includes clothing, accessories, and even a pornographic movie of the period.
|Egon Schiele (1890-1918), Reclining Semi-Nude, 1911, Watercolor, gouache, and pencil (Private Collection)|
One of my favorite works in the show, and it’s part of their permanent collection, is a self-portrait by the little-known Richard Gerstl. Little-known because Gerstl, at the age of 25, after a disastrous love affair with Schönberg’s wife, killed himself and destroyed most of his work. Fewer than 100 pieces survive.
|Richard Gerstl, Self-Portrait in Front of a Stove, 1907, Oil on canvas on board, 27 x 21 ½ inches|
(Neue Galerie, New York).
The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street (at Fifth Avenue)
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm; Sundays, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm.
Admission: $18 General; $15 Seniors; $10 Students. Pay what you wish Sundays 11:00 am - 1:00 pm.
Photography is not permitted.
The Frick is simply the BEST small museum in the country -- maybe the world! Visiting the Frick is like walking through the pages of Janson’s History of Art (is this still used for Art History Survey classes?). They have some of the best art, by some of the best European artists, displayed under the best conditions — installed in the Henry Clay Frick mansion. The only problem is that people have found out about this treasure so it can get crowded. It's best to get there when it first opens.
|Screen shot of the Living Hall from the Frick virtual tour.|
|Screen shot of the West Gallery from the Frick virtual tour.|
Here are some of my favorites:
The Frick has three of the thirty-five paintings now accepted as being by Vermeer. (The Met has five, the showoffs, but the Frick’s are better.)
|Johannes Vermeer, Officer and Laughing Girl, c. 1657, oil on canvas (lined), 19 7/8 x 18 1/8 in. (Henry Clay Frick Bequest, Accession number: 1911.1.127).|
|Piero della Francesca, St. John the Evangelist, c. 1454-1469, tempera on poplar panel, 52 3/4 x 24 1/2 inches (Purchased by The Frick Collection, 1936, Accession number: 1936.1.138).|
Asia Society Museum, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street)
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm.
Admission: $10.00 General; $7.00 Seniors; $5 Students; free for persons under 16.
Admission is free on Fridays 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Photography and electronic recording of any kind are not permitted anywhere in the building.
The museum is an uninteresting modern building, but at least it doesn’t intrude on the art.
|Exterior, Asia Society Museum|
|Bottle, North China; Northern Song period, 12th century, Stoneware with sgraffito design in slip under glaze, 12 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches (Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art, number 1979.141).|
The museum is in the process of installing a long-delayed exhibition of Buddhist art from Pakistan (opens August 9th).
The Morgan Library & Museum. 225 Madison Avenue (at 36th Street)
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, 10:30 am - 5 pm; Friday, 10:30 am - 9 pm; Saturday, 10 am - 6 pm; Sunday, 11 am - 6 pm
Admission: $15 General; $10 Children, Seniors and Students. Free on Fridays, 7 pm - 9 pm.
Photography is not allowed except for the ground-floor public spaces.
The old Morgan Library and Museum, before the 2006 Renzo Piano expansion and renovation, was a Mecca for connoisseurs of drawing. Almost every time I went I would overhear educated and intelligent discussions about the drawings on view. Not anymore. What’s surprising is I don’t think attendance has increased since the renovation, at least not in my experience. I don’t know the numbers, but the place sure looks empty every time I’ve been there.
The Renzo Piano expansion and renovation added a lot: a nice welcoming entrance on Madison Avenue, two restaurants, greater handicapped accessibility, a beautiful new performance hall (see photo below), a better reading room, and better storage for the collections.
|Gilder Lehrman Performance Hall, The Morgan Library & Museum.|
|The Morgan Library & Museum’s new lobby.|
|Eastroom - Pierpont Morgan's library|
|Westroom - Pierpont Morgan's study|
|Etruscan Cista with cover, c.300 B.C., Palestrina, Bronze, Height (from foot to top of handle lid) 14 1/4 inches; diameter (at top of cylinder) 8 11/16 inches; (at base of cylinder) 8 1/8 inches (Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907; AZ046a-b).|
|Hans Memling, Portrait of a Man with a Pink, ca. 1475, Tempera on panel, 10 3/4 x 15 inches (Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1907; AZ073).|
|Pietro Vannucci, called Perugino, Madonna and Saints Adoring the Christ Child, ca. 1500, Tempera on wood, 34 1/2 x 28 3/8 inches (Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911; AZ066).|
the sole surviving manuscript of John Milton's Paradise Lost, transcribed and corrected under the direction of the blind poet; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s "autograph manuscript" of the Haffner Symphony; Charles Dickens's manuscript of A Christmas Carol; Henry David Thoreau's journals; Thomas Jefferson's letters to his daughter Martha; and manuscripts and letters of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Lord Byron, Wilkie Collins, Albert Einstein, John Keats, Abraham Lincoln and John Steinbeck.
Wonderful--and welcome--reminders of art's past. I remember my first visit to the Frick, I felt as though I'd been personally invited, as I was about the only one there, and I came away with the impression that all historical works of art were masterpieces. In later years, I'd periodically stop in when I felt the need for a break from the cacophony of the art's contemporary situation.
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