Saturday, January 23, 2010

Miniature things are always better!

As a budding museum professional, you might assume that I enjoy spending time in museums. You would be correct. As previously mentioned, I also love theme parks, and the intersection of museums and theme parks is, arguably, World's Fairs! The day we leased our apartment, we had to drive across Queens to get cash out of the bank, and we drove past the Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of both the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World's Fairs. From the highway, you can see the Unisphere, the New York State Pavilion (which is basically in ruins), and the Queens Museum of Art, which was the New York City building, served as the meeting place for the UN General Assembly for a while, and also housed an ice skating rink, which was apparently decommissioned last year.

Immediately, I was stoked. We went for a visit in August before E started school, checked out all the remnants of the fairs, and went to the Queens Zoo, where the aviary is a geodesic dome that was the Winston Churchill pavilion at the fair. Insanely cool. The whole park is full of recognizable things. It was built on an ash-dumping ground that F. Scott Fitzgerald called "a valley of ashes" in The Great Gatsby. The observation towers on the New York State Pavilion were the alien spaceships at the end of Men in Black. The US Open is played there, and the Mets play at Citi Field on the grounds. The Unisphere is one of the most recognized symbols of Queens.

And, tucked inside the Queens Museum of Art, is one of the coolest things I've seen in a museum: an amazing scale model of Manhattan and its boroughs. We decided to have a cheap daytime date today ($2.50 per student!) and go check it out. The photos on the museum's website do not convey the scale of this thing. At over 9000 square feet (that's like 10 of my apartments, FYI), it takes up most of the sizable building, and features nearly 900,000 (THAT'S 90% OF ONE MILLION!) individual structures. I found our apartment! I found Coney Island! My school! E's! A thousand other awesome things! And all in one very large room!

The viewing platform is a ramp around the perimeter of the panorama, mimicking the original simulated helicopter ride in glass-bottomed cars from 1964-65. We spent a ton of time in there, taking everything in, though the rest of the museum is pretty cool as well. Afterwards, we went outside and enjoyed the January thaw by meandering around the Unisphere (and spent about 15 minutes trying to get the perfect picture of me playing Atlas with the Unisphere on my back). With another museum (the New York Hall of Science), a theater (Queens Theater has taken up residence in the usable parts of the former NY State Pavilion), and several sports arenas on the grounds, I anticipate spending more time at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the future. Especially since I am now intent on bringing every visitor we have to see the amazing panorama at the Queens Museum of Art. SO. COOL.

1 comment:

  1. Well, now I have two reasons to come back:
    1. eat gyros at 1am
    2. go check this out!