In a city with more than a thousand worthwhile places to go and things to see like New York, it’s important to create a list of them before you arrive or shortly thereafter so that your time is well-spent. Ruth & I like to mix the old, Fraunces Tavern, with the new, Gulliver’s Gate. This doesn’t guarantee success. Today I’m writing about the last place we visited that, unlike Gulliver, was an unqualified success, the museum of arts and design, sub-named “The FUTURE OF CRAFT”.
The museum of arts and design (MAD) was founded in 1956 and moved to its current building at #2 Columbus Circle in 2008. Its red, white and blue exterior is appropriately factory-like because inside are many laboring craftspeople. This is the only venue in New York City that lets visitors watch and talk to artists thanks to its Open Studio Program. Ruth & I tried to ask a couple of the younger ones about their projects, but they were engrossed in their crafts and not especially welcoming. This was OK because of the dedication they exuded. Beyond their workstations were 5 floors of temporary exhibits. None of them are still there.
All exhibits were very contemporary. I liked Sonic Arcade: Shaping Space with Sound. In it, several artists explored sound as a substance with lots of color resulting. Another exhibit that continued the sound theme was Audiowear, which was described as “a porcelain musical jewelry collection that showcases the acoustic quality of clay by replicating idiophone and aerophone instruments”. Huh?
We both liked MAD’s store that featured one-of-a-kind craft items. Part of this museum will usually be used to display items from its collection. If I had to do it over, I’d go to madmuseum.org before going there and look at several pages of what it owns. It currently uses 218 pages to show 2,616 items in its permanent collection, which is more than 95% of it. Many of the items are both truly stunning and beautifully representative of this artist-centered institution. On their website, I also like the way MAD treats exhibits. It features pictures of and info about current, future, and past exhibitions.
If you thinks that American craft and design are in the doldrums, pay a visit to MAD and see that we are a nation of serious artists in a creative frenzy. 5 Compass!