I came to Columbia University primarily to experience the city of NY which I believed to be a center of cultural energy. I was thrilled most about a laundry list of museums and galleries to explore in an attempt to culturally educate myself. Unfortunately, a graduate education can cause a rapid decline of interests such as these ones that become deterred due to conflicting schedules and overall time constraints. However, this semester has been somewhat revolutionary for me as I have decided to set forth into creating a medley of museum experiences and what I have taken away from it:
MoSex: this museum is both great fun and highly educational (Yes !) on reproduction and mating cultures. Tastefully setup, this 3 floor construct is, for some people scarier than it sounds – but honestly it offers something substantial in eliminating fears about sex and homosexuality especially. On my first visit I noticed several visitors were foreigners that walked through the floors awkwardly but awe struck by the transparency of the subject. The museum devotes attention to gender differences as well, what they are ? why do they exist and why are they important ? This would be quite amazing for groups of 18 year old’s and high school students to experience. The museum makes SexEd greatly interesting and valuable rather than the joke it has become by presenting mindless videos in class sessions.
International Center of Photography: this museum can easily go unnoticed, located bang center in the middle of the Ave. of Americas , close to Bryant Park.. most visitors just sort of stumble into it. The museum is also a school focusing on understanding and appreciating photography. Their exhibits include everything from print journalism, microfilm and expressive poster prints. This place can take you anything from a 20 min run down or a 2 hour visit to walk through depending on the intricacies of the picture that you may feel compelled to know, free to Columbia students you can chose to walk around with magnifying glasses as well. Most of the exhibits in the museum are rotating or seasonal , therefore I think since my last visit I would be eager to see what they have next. It begins with a ‘arty’ feel to it and tracks photographs from the pre-world war II era and moves into light, thought provoking images which were built around the developing economy of China when I visited. The cafe is overpriced – but there is a pretty great McDonalds two blocks down.
The American Folk Art Museum: this museum I have yet to explore but what interests me most about it, is its origin. Through a charter the museum was created to house a collection of folk art – acknowledging NYC as the art capital of the world at the time. “The very idea that folk art could be studied and appreciated as art, rather than as material culture or historical or ethnographic artifact, was a by-product of the growth of modernism as a movement in the history of American culture (as stated on the website).” Furthermore, it started off from a small parlor location with no exhibition halls and today, is presented in two locations with almost 6 floors of exhibits. They currently have a quilt exhibition that I would really like to see.
Other things to take note of while going to museums – chose the right company , go with someone who does not know too much (like yourself) and always look for free events too! Makes the experience completely worthwhile.