Sunday, May 29, 2011

Queens Museum of Art: Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Ok, so I got turned around going to the Queens Museum of Art (QMA, QMA Info), but luckily it was a gorgeous day yesterday so I just took in the sights and enjoyed the walk.  I had done my pre-visit research online at QMA Directions but had failed to look at the more detailed map that showed that the 111st Street subway stop was much closer and provided a more direct route to the QMA than the Mets-Willet Point stop (and the website's instructions are not clear).  Anyway, after a 20 minute walk meandering through the Shea Stadium parking lot, lots of questions to people passing by, and trekking over NY Parks fields, I got to the iconic Unisphere (see photo above, that huge metal globe from the 1939-40 Worlds Fair), which marks the front of the QMA.

I don't know if Queens residents are intentionally keeping mum about the surrounding park and treasures at the QMA so that they can enjoy all of this without the hoards of Manhattan invading, but WOW.  From afar it looks like the site is fairly abandoned.  The front of the QMA looks like it has not been touched since the 70s (see above) and the Unisphere pond is empty of water.  To enter the QMA you have to go to a small nondescript side entrance by the small parking lot.  Once you do, there is one woman manning a small desk that accepts donations (there are no maps or guides) ($5 suggested donation for adults).

Perhaps it is that Queens folks believe that people should really put some effort into their visit and thereby "earn" the rewards.  In any event, the reduced and currently-shabby QMA (they are renovating and expect to be done in 2013) offers the determined visitor some unparalleled gems.  They have a small collection of modern art from contemporary artists, a unique topographical map of the NYC area (see above), a beautiful small Tiffany art glass collection (see left and right), an interesting exhibit about both Worlds Fairs that took place here, and most famously, they have The Panorama (see photos below).

The Panorama is a detailed 3D map of all the buildings in NYC that was first built by Robert Moses (actually there was a building crew of over 100) for the 1964 Worlds Fair and last updated in 1992 (so it still has the World Trade Center Towers).  The Panorama takes up a huge room lined with walkways so that viewing can take place from all sides, and it is so detailed that photographs cannot do it justice.  This 9,335 square foot architectural model includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs; that is a total of over 895,000 individual structures!  It is built to an exacting detail in a scale of 1 inch = 100 feet.  It is simply AMAZING (and I use that word with its intended meaning, not the way people use it today in every 5th sentence).

PLEASE visit the Panorama and take a look for yourself if you have any interest in architecture, city planning, NYC history, Worlds Fairs, models, or anything of the sort.  You will not be disappointed.

No comments:

Post a Comment