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New York’s Museum of Art and Design

NYC - Museum of Arts & Design
Image by wallyg via Flickr

New York City’s reputation as the destination for the visual arts is legendary. With major museums, art galleries and exhibition spaces, I could spend every Sunday visiting each one and not see everything on display. So I have to be strategic.

Last weekend, I decided to visit the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in its new home at Columbus Circle. The brainchild of Aileen Osborn Webb, it was opened in 1956 as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, with its stated mission to celebrate the work of American craftspeople. The museum was renamed the American Craft Museum in 1979 and finally the Museum of Art and Design in 2002 to reflect its focus on the broader interplay between craft, design, art, architecture, interior design, technology and the performing arts.

My goal last Sunday was to catch the final day of an exhibition called the Global Africa Project, a sweeping look at contemporary African art, design and craft worldwide. Pieces were drawn from the works of over 100 artists working in interior design, fashion, sculpture, photography, paintings, furniture, jewelry, ceramics and textile from Africa, Asia, Europe, the United States and the Caribbean.

I wished I hadn’t waited until the last day as I felt rushed to take it all in but I’m glad I didn’t miss it. It was a great opportunity for me to learn about these artists, the majority of whom I hadn’t heard of before.

My next stop was to view the collection of tapestries documenting the collaboration of the feminist artist and educator, Judy Chicago and weaver Audrey Cowan and her husband, Bob. This is an impressive collection of work designed by Ms. Chicago and interpreted by Ms. Cowan.

The museum has an extensive collection of jewelry, the majority of which is housed in drawers which visitors are encouraged to check out. Most people, however, seem to miss the the sign.

Visit the Open Studios on the 6th floor to watch artists working in jewelry, ceramics, sculpture. Stop by the restaurant for lunch or visit the museum store on the main floor for gifts.

Museums tend to be overwhelming for me so I tend to select one exhibition and soak it all in. Though MAD is smaller than say, the Metropolitan, it’s possible to view all the exhibitions in a day.

One feature that I like is the ability of visitors to the museum’s website to view its collections and curate their own show, like I did here.

The Museum of Art and Design is located at 2 Columbus Circle. Open Tuesdays – Sundays from 11:00 – 6:00 p.m., Thursdays 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., closed on Mondays and major holidays. Entrance is free to members, high school students with ID and children under 12. General admission $15/$12 for seniors/students. On Thursdays from 6:00-9:00 p.m., you can pay as you wish.

A Partial List of Museums in New York

So for your next visit to New York City, make sure to add at least one museum to your list of things to do. Pack comfortable shoes and enjoy!

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