I love coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Private Members Nights. It is one of the perks that I enjoy of being a member for the last thirty years. The museum closes at 5:30pm to the general public and we as members get to roam certain parts of the hall on our own for almost three hours. It gives us a chance to visit halls that we have not seen or have not visited in a while and have special discounts in the restaurants and gift shops. There are also special lectures and talks in all the galleries and it is nice to talk to the curators and docents.
I just like the time that I can stroll around the museum at my own pace. We have the same thing when it is open to the public but here you are with other members who really are…
It is amazing to be in a building a record number of times and miss a small gallery that makes an impact on a visitor. This is how I felt when I entered Grand Central Station recently and discovered the New York Transit Museum Gallery. This little gem is tucked into a corner away from the ticket booths and Grand Hall and is free to the public.
The Gallery is a branch of the larger New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn. This smaller space can be toured in about an hour which is perfect in case you need to spend some time in the terminal before your train.
The Gallery was showing an exhibition entitled “Transit Sketches” by six artists who were based in New York City over the last 100 years. It was nice to see different perspectives of the artist though the overall theme was still the same.
“Transit Sketches” at the New York Transit Gallery
Video by Burning Hammer Productions
Tired people going to and from work. Works featured were from artists Ebony Bolt, Marvin Franklin, Naomi Grossman, Joseph Solman, Amy Tenenouser and Hank Virgona. Each artist represented a different time in the subway system, and it was nice to see that nothing really has changed over the years with the exception of the iPhone has replaced the newspaper as a place to do your work on the subway.
Each artist had their own mini gallery show in each section of the museum gallery and all the works showed people after either getting to work in the morning or after a long day at work. It showed the human side of riding the subway and just wanting to get to our destination.
Artist Ebony Bolt created a series entitled “The Bolt Dairies”, where she drew sketches of people either reading or sleeping on the subways and most of the faces were looking down. I took this that she was secretly drawing them while they were content being distracted by whatever means possible from the other riders and the books were full of overlapping faces.
Artist Ebony Bolt on her work on the inspiration of the people on the subway
Artist Naomi Grossman show her works with an interesting approach of capturing the moods of the passengers as they spent their time on the train almost wishing to get off at the next stop. It was a way of looking at the patrons and capturing them after a long day at work.
Artist Marvin Franklin was an MTA worker who worked the lines as a track worker who died on the job in 2007. He was on the job with another worker picking up a non-working dolly on the track whose lights were out and the train operator who hit them did not see them (NY Times.com). His vision to see the people who disappeared after work and became part of the fabric of the City. He showed their stories in his art.
Artist Amy Tenenouser’s work also gives the patron a Birdseye view of average people living their lives and capturing them in a moment in time. She has a good view of the riders on the subway and a whimsical approach.
Hank Virgona’s work shows people in a state of mind
Hank Virgona’s career goes back to the Great Depression, and he captures like many of the artists in the exhibition the everyday person on the subway. Being a native New Yorker, he looks at the riders keeping an uncomfortable position keeping their space. I liked his work on the written word.
In the corner of the gallery there is a very extensive gift shop that features hats with subway numbers and letters representing the routes they take, games, puzzles and books that are all railroad themed catering to both children and adults. It has a nice selection of products to choose from.
The best part of the New York Transit Gallery is that it is free and a nice way to spend the afternoon while waiting to get on your train.
The History of the Transit Museum:
(From the museum’s website)
Founded in 1976, the New York Transit Museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the stories of mass transportation-extraordinary engineering feats, workers who labored in the tunnels over 100 years ago, communities that were drastically transformed and the ever-evolving technology, design and ridership of a system that runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Housed underground in a authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, the Transit Museum’s working platform level spans a full city block and is home to a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907.
Visitors can board the vintage cars, sit at the wheel of a city bus, step through a time tunnel of turnstiles and explore changing exhibits that highlight the cultural, social and technology history and future of mass transit.
The New York Transit Museum is a self-supporting division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Friends of the New York Transit Museum, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization was established in 1995 to promote and raise funds for the Museum’s operations and programs.
The Ginseng Museum Cafe by CheongKwanJang is a combination small museum of the development of the ginseng root for tea and its history, part cafe for tea and part store. This small store front is packed with information on the history and processing of ginseng.
The Ginseng Museum Cafe at 315 Fifth Avenue
To the right of the store, is the video history of the company and how they process and produce their product which is very interesting. The conditions that the ginseng is processed under may have advanced over the years but not by much. There is still a lot of care that is used to make the tea. There is also a display on the extractions.
The museum section of the store describes the process of producing ginseng
Next to it is the video history of the ginseng from its development to the processing and then the export and business of the product for trade from the 1800’s to today. It is impressive how the product is still very specialized and very expensive to produce and sell.
To the right of the store are all the products that the store sells from the extracts and teas to the roots themselves. Some of these items are worth several hundred dollars telling me that this is for a very particular customer.
The retail section of the Ginseng Museum Cafe
The combination store/museum tells the whole story of ginseng and a nice place to stop and not just sample the product but learn its story and history. There are also beautifully wrapped products for sale for all occasions.
It’s a beautiful little store in the heart of Koreatown in Manhattan.