Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Other Upper East Side Museums

Guggenheim Museum

Visitors to New York City who are museum-minded generally have two in mind: the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side and the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side.

In my mind, they certainly are the two most impressive of New York's many museums, but they're not always my favorites. Both are striking-- the buildings themselves and the collections inside -- but also unwieldy. Too big. I always feel like I'm missing something, and I probably am.

When I feel like getting a jolt of culture, I like the Guggenheim Museum. The primary space is round, and visitors view the main exhibit by walking around and around a giant ramp. A few other exhibits fill up the annexes, but everything is easily accessible. Best yet, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building is dramatic inside and out -- and just a few blocks from the Met if you just have to go there, too.

Paul and I visited the Guggenheim just a few weeks ago, and we decided to make a museum day of it. Instead of going to the Met, however, we went to the Whitney Museum of American Art for the Edward Hopper exhibit. I was excited to go since he's one of my favorite artists, although the setting isn't nearly as nice as the other museums. I find the building blah inside and out; it's easy to miss even if you're walking by.

Whitney Museum of American Art

The Hopper exhibit was crowded. Even still, we got through the bulk of the museum -- all that we wanted to see, in any case -- in about 90 minutes.

To me, the Met and the American Museum of Natural History are like nice, expensive meals -- something to be indulged in and savored, but only once in a while. Most of the time I just want something hearty and filling, but still of good quality. That's what the Guggenheim and Whitney are for me.

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