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 always nice when you discover a new museum. In all my years of walking around the Upper East Side, I had never noticed the Society of Illustrators, nor had I heard of it, but I am glad I have now. The museum is home in a stylish brownstone on a residential block away from the traditional “Museum Row” on Fifth Avenue.
The exhibits were on the main and lower floors of the main building with the special exhibitions on the third and fourth floors. The museum also had a very nice restaurant with an open terrace when it got warmer on the fourth floor. The restaurant has been closed since COVID closed the museum, but the bar is open for a drink.
On the first floor and lower level, the exhibition “Illustrators 64: Advertising, Institutional, Uncommissioned, Surface/Product Design categories”. The exhibition is a presentation of outstanding works of the year by leading contemporary illustrators worldwide. This exhibit had all sorts of interesting pieces ranging from advertising art to pastels and drawings of all sorts of subject matter. There was everything from animals skateboarding to commercial portraits. There were also unique works based on national brand companies and New York City themed works.
The second floor was the “Eric Godal: A Cartoonist’s Fight for Human Rights” exhibition that had cartoons that are still prevalent to today. As I read and admired the works by the illustrator, I can safely say that his works are just as contemporary now as they were then dealing with antisemitism during WWII in Europe. His works ridiculed the party and the Third Reich’s power over people who they deem “unsatisfactory”. He also showed the rise of the labor movement and big businesses reaction to it.
Artist Eric Godal’s works on social justice
In the fourth-floor restaurant, was the “Kent State: 4 Dead in Ohio” exhibition on the May 4th, 1970, incident on the Kent State campus. The college students there like college students all over the country were protesting the war and there had been many incidents over the months leading to the shooting.
The illustrated story boards tell the whole story of the four people who had been killed and how the whole incident had happened. It was fascinating to see how each of the people involved how their lives came about during that time and how it led them to that horrible day.
The “128 Bar & Bistro” is currently only open at certain hours and the bistro part of the restaurant is currently closed and according to the bartender being revamped. It has not been that busy before the pandemic, so they have the bar section open only.
The outdoor terrace with its breathtaking views and planted edges will make for a nice place for a cocktail in the warmer months. The space is a nice place to relax after a long afternoon of touring the museum.
This is one of those rare museums in New York City that is fun to find and explore.
The Dining Room/Lounge that is a bar area for now
The History of the Society of Illustrators:
(From the Museum Website)
The Society of Illustrators’ mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community at large.
The Society of Illustrators is the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of illustration in America. Notable Society members have been N.C. Wyeth, Rube Goldberg and Norman Rockwell among many others.
On February 1st, 1901, nine artists and one businessman founded the Society of Illustrators with the following credo: “The object of the Society shall be to promote generally the art of illustration and to hold exhibitions from time to time.” This simple dictum has held true for over a century.
At the time when illustration was in what has been called its Golden Age, the first monthly dinners were attended by prominent artists including Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parish, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dana Gibson, Frederic Remington, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and special guests such as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie.
Our museum of Illustration was established in 1981 under the stewardship of them president John Witt. We offer year round themed exhibitions, art education programs and annual juried competitions. Our Permanent Collection houses 2,500 pieces that are cataloged for scholarly use and displayed periodically. In 2012, we created the MoCCA Gallery with a focus on curated exhibitions of comic and cartoon art.
The Society of Illustrators is an organization of many layers, one which provides illustrators a center to discuss, demonstrate and exhibit their work, contributes to future artists and to the community at large, honors its preeminent practitioners, takes a stand on legal and ethical issues affecting the profession-and has a great dining room to boot!
As it faces the challenges of a swiftly changing future, the Society will continue to “promote generally the art of illustration,” as its founders dictated.
I love coming to the Central Park Zoo when I am visiting the Upper East Side. The zoo is a nice to just relax and reflect from the hustle and bustle of the City. On a quiet midweek day, there is nothing like going to the 2:00pm seal feeding at all times of the year. The seals get so excited and the humans like seeing the seals in their playful mood.
The zoo is small so touring it will only take about an hour or so to see all the exhibitions. You have a choice of seeing the monkeys, the birds, the seals and the penguins. They finally moved the polar bear out of the zoo a few years ago and he always looked so bored with his life. He would give you a look like ‘get me out of here’.
The smaller animals like the monkeys and the penguins look like they are having more fun in their enclosed homes with more room to move around. They always look at us as visitors in an amusing way like why are we so interested in them. It is an interesting interaction with the animals there to see their reaction to us.
There is also more birds, amphibians and bats to see in other exhibitions around the zoo and smaller outside areas to view the smaller animals such as pandas and leopards that have finally been given space to roam around.
There is also a nice gift shop just outside the zoo and the Dancing Crane Cafe is the zoo restaurant which is over-priced and the food the few times I have tried it was mediocre. It is not like the cafe up at the Bronx Zoo that was pretty decent.
Don’t miss the hourly concert at Delacorte Clock when the animal sculptures dance to the music played. It is such an enjoyable experience.
History of the Zoo:
The Zoo was not originally part of the layout for Central Park when designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. A small menagerie developed on the edge of the park with exotic animals that had been donated to the park starting with a bear cub tied to a tree in 1859 and a monkey in 1860. Other animals came later including cranes, a peacock and a goldfish.
In 1860, the American Zoological and Botanical Society wanted to create a zoo somewhere in New York City. In 1864, the zoo received a formal charter, making it the second publicly owned zoo behind the Philadelphia Zoo. Though a formal zoo had not yet been created, the menagerie, with its free admission and good location made it the most popular attraction in Central Park.
By the 1930’s, the menagerie had become run down and was not sufficient to hold the animals. In 1834, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia hired Robert Moses to head the unified Parks Department and a new more formal zoo was created. The new zoo was opened on December 2nd, 1934 and by 1936 over six million people had visited the zoo.
By 1967, the zoo was again falling apart due to years of negligence and budget cuts. New York City’s fiscal crisis had affected the Parks System and conditions had gone downhill. In 1980, The Wildlife Conservatory (the former NY Zoological Society) signed a fifty year agreement in April of that year and started a renovation of the zoo from 1982 to its opening in 1988.
When the Zoo opened in August of 1988, the concept of the zoo had changed. The Wildlife Conservation Society had taken over the Queens Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn and already had possession of the Bronx Zoo and the direction of the society was toward conservation and care of animals while the Prospect Zoo was to be used as a Children’s Zoo and the Queens Zoo would concentrate on North American animals. The Children’s Zoo next to the Central Park Zoo went through its own renovation in the late 1990’s and is now called the Tisch Children’s Zoo after businessman, Laurence Tisch who had donated most of the money for the renovation.
(This information was taken from both Wiki and the Central Park Zoo History)
Open: To Groups on Fridays and Saturdays and to individuals on Saturdays 10:00am/12:00pm/2:00pm
Fee: Free to Individuals/Donations welcome-Groups tours are $100.00 for up to five people with an additional $15.00 fee per person. There is also an administration fee of $25.00 for groups over 20 people.
It is amazing what you discover when you are walking around the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I was exploring the Streets of the Upper East Side for my blog, ‘MywalkinManhattan’ and when walking around the Hunter College Campus came across the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House at 47-49 East 65th Street.
This beautiful brownstone was built as a wedding present to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor and their future family by his mother Sara Delano Roosevelt. It was their New York City residence until they moved to the White House. His mother continued to use the house until her death in 1941 when the home was sold to Hunter College.
Tours are available when the building is open (Hunter College is currently closed) and you can tour the whole house. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
History of the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House:
The Neo-Georgian townhouse was designed by architect Charles A. Platt for Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt in 1907. It originally held “two mirror-image residences with a single facade and entrance. Each floor had its own front reception room with a welcoming fireplace. Rear parlous could be combined through sliding doors
The mansion at 47-49 East 65th Street on the Upper East Side
The house was given to the Roosevelt’s by Franklin’s mother as a wedding gift for them. The house originally two homes and Franklin’s mother had doors put in place so she could enter their part of the home whenever she wanted. The house was used by Sara Ann Delano Roosevelt from its completion in 1908 to her death in 1941 and intermittently by the Roosevelts until the sale to Hunter College in 1943.
The house historical marker
After his mother’s death in 1941, President Roosevelt and his wife placed the house up for sale and a non-profit consortium was organized to purchase the house on behalf of Hunter College.
The Extended Roosevelt family
The house was closed in 1992 and reopened in 2010 after an $18 million renovation. Leslie E Robertson Associates was the structural engineers on this renovation. The building is currently used by Hunter College as the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College or just known as the Roosevelt House.
The inside of the house’s museum
(Disclaimer: This information was from Wiki and I give them full credit for the History of the Roosevelt House).