MoMA PS1 is an institute for Contemporary Art
Everyone knows about the MoMA in New York City. In fact, if you think of the museums in New York, the first ones you would name are probably the Metropolitan and the Museum of Modern Art. What you might not realize, however, is that the Museum of Modern Art has an annex in Queens, and it is well worth your trip out of the city to visit P.S. 1. In fact, it is one of the oldest and largest contemporary art institutions in the United States.
P.S.1 is located in an old school building in Queens just past Queensboro Plaza going into Manhattan. When I first arrived, I was a bit confused about where to enter, as you have to pass through a small building where they sell tickets, and then you go through the yard of the school to get to the front door. Sitting there, in the space between the spot where you bought your ticket and the front door is an old mobile home sort of caravan, a steel torpedo looking thing that is actually a book co-op. This is your first clue that this museum is way cooler than anything you might find on the “main tourist track.”
Inside, you will wander through the wooden hallways, boards creeking with memories of tiny tennis shoed feet padding along the halls, and air smelling just the way you remember grade school. This is a place of ghosts. In fact, the building itself gives me a strange feeling. I should confess that I am a teacher by trade, and the idea that this art space used to be a school hits close to home. There is something unsettling about seeing modern art in a space that was once occupied by desks and chairs.
The day I visited, there was a very interesting exhibit from artist Surasi Kusolwong (Thai 1965). The artist filled a huge pit with rags and scraps of cloth, among which were hidden gold necklaces. You were invited to take off your shoes. And walk into the pit. On the brick wall he had hung a huge mirror with the words “Golden Ghost (The future belongs to Ghosts.)” I walked into the pit, and although I didn´t find any necklaces, the experience reminded me of those pools of plastic balls from when we were children. You never knew the other kids who played in the pit with you, but it was kind of an unspoken bond that you had as you all played together.
Another exhibit featured live animals. As I wandered in and out of the little rooms on the second or third floor of the school, I saw cats roaming around, a lizard with a pizza drying on top of an oscillating fan, and other scenes that spoke to the problem of people mistreating their animals, and perhaps not thinking of the consequences when they acquire a pet. In another area, there was a huge open space with classical music playing. The room, silent apart from the music, had large windows where you could see the freeway in the distance, cars, billboards, and inside this room, this open space void of children, teachers, desks or tables was a gorgeous, cathedral like music. These are the sorts of experiences you have at P.S. 1.
There are, of course, exhibits of paintings and photography, as well, although P.S. 1 is the perfect space for installation art, reminding me of the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, PA. Downstairs, there is a small café and book shop with all kinds of interesting art books, as well as books for children. The café is open and connected to the book shop, and while I did not stop in, it looked inviting with its café tables and wood floor with the late afternoon sun streaming in.
I ruskommend a trip to P.S. 1 with 5 boquerones. This is a museum that is not often mentioned when we talk about the great museums of the city, perhaps for its relatively short life in comparison to others (founded in 1971), perhaps for its content (contemporary and modern art might not be everyone´s cup of tea), for whatever reason, I think this is a museum that is worth visiting and is sure to provide a unique art experience for all.