It’s fitting that the city’s only museum dedicated to Latino art and culture is in the heart of Spanish Harlem.
El Museo del Barrio
It’s fitting that the city’s only museum dedicated to Latino art and culture is in the heart of Spanish Harlem. Travel through time, starting with art from the Tainos—the pre-Columbus inhabitants in the Caribbean—to contemporary canvases by heavy hitters such as Carmen Herrera, a Cuban who achieved fame only recently at 94 for her abstract paintings. This month, the museum along with the New York Historical Society unveils “Nueva York,” which reflects four centuries of Latino history in New York City. 1230 Fifth Ave. Closed Mon. and Tues. Admission: $6 for adults, $4 for students and senior citizens, free for kids under 12.
This tiny former tenement pays homage to the Lower East Side’s history as a destination for immigrants. A tour guide leads small groups on an interactive trip through six restored apartments from the late-19th to early 20th centuries, weaving in history about labor issues, unions and religious life. You’ll immerse yourself in the lives of the Sicilian, Irish and Polish families who lived there. Also fascinating are original signs of life, such as the Baldizzis’ monogrammed tea towels and romance novels from the turn of the century. 97 Orchard St. Admission: $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors.
The Rubin Museum
The building that houses this Himalayan art museum, which opened in 2004, was once home to Barney’s, but the space has been transformed into a peaceful, almost meditative spot to view the Western world’s largest collection of works from Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia, India and Nepal, spanning the 2nd to the 21st centuries. The majority of pieces are thangkas, or cloth paintings that depict deities such as the Buddha, and dozens of these are mandalas, religious–based pieces used as Buddhist meditation tools. 150 W. 17th St. Closed Tues. Admission: $10 for adults, free for children under 12.
When MoMA attaches its name to a space in Queens, you know your time won’t be wasted. Rather than permanent collections, P.S.1 has changing exhibitions that reflect the world’s emerging and most experimental art. Through the fall, catch the “Greater New York” exhibit, which has crowds lining up to explore NYC’s racial, gender, political and ecological elements. 22-25 Jackson Ave. Closed Tues. and Wed. Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors.
This article has been adapted from the original, which appeared in the September 2010 issue of Sky.