March 16, 2009

March 16, 2009


Dear LoMA Family,


Something that really impressed me in Mexico was how many young people visited the museums while I was there. In fact, nearly half of the people in the art and archeology museums on the weekend seemed to be high school kids visiting with their friends or on dates. I really should not have been so surprised. In places as diverse as Africa, Spain and Cambodia I’ve seen young people visit museums without teachers or families. It seems ridiculous that in the United States museums are seen as “boring” or “expensive.” By taking the entire tenth grade class to the Met over the course of three Fridays this month, I am trying to show them that museums are both fun and cheap.


New York is home to some of the greatest museums in the world, and if you know the secret, they are virtually free. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the vastest art museum on the world. Its collection includes a weapons hall with armored horses and Samurai weapons; a musical instruments exhibit includes hundreds of weird and fabulous instruments from around the world and galleries full of billions of dollars worth paintings by Picasso, Rembrandt and van Gough. Four blocks long, the Met stretches along 5th Avenue from 78th St. to 82nd. Across the park, past Cleopatra’s Needle, the Turtle Pond and Belvedere Castle, is the Museum of Natural History at Central Park West and 79th. The largest single museum in the nation it has a collection of mammoth gems and diamonds, a gargantuan suspended blue whale and the largest dinosaur collection in the world.


Brooklyn and uptown are also well represented. The Brooklyn Museum, next to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and Prospect Park, has a fantastic collection of Mummies, a magical fountain and a fully built 300-year-old house on the third floor. The Cloisters, located right up the hill from Washington Heights has a treasury full of jewels, pieces of ancient churches and a unicorn room.


With so much to see and many of the most beautiful objects in the world, museums are more interesting places to chill with friends than most apartments and romantic date spots where you won’t struggle for conversation. They are all located near beautiful parks, and because these museums are so huge and constantly changing, you can go back again and again. I have been to the Met hundreds of times and always see new things.


Now for the inside New Yorker secret: While these museums have big signs announcing $10, $12 and $20 admission charges. In the small print, they all say, “suggested admission.” For all four museums, you can get in by paying just $1 or even 1c. So you have no excuse not to go to some of the most amazing places in the world.


Do something different with your friends,,



John Wenk