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Will’s Adventures in NYC

July 20, 2009

While spending time with family on Long Island, I took advantage of my proximity to NYC to do some scouting for this year’s field trip.  First stop was the new Museum of Chinese in America at 215 Centre St.  Although not officially open yet (the grand opening is scheduled for September 22), the new building is hosting previews through July.  I was impressed with the space, although there really isn’t much in it at this point.  Here are some photos:

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In addition to offering brief tours of the space, the museum was running short films about Chinatown by some fairly well known filmmakers.  They also had a special program, which Kristin and I attended, with a Chinese-American spoken word artist and a Korean-American singer-songwriter.  The performers were so-so, but the room was full and the audience young and enthusiastic.

Next stop (a few days later) was the Center for Traditional Music and Dance for a conversation with a former Smithsonian folklorist/curator.

Then on to the NYC branch of the National Museum of the American Indian, which is across the street from the Center and housed in the old Customs House.  I had been here a couple of times before but not since NMAI opened on the Mall in Washington.  One thing I hadn’t really paid attention to on previous visits were the sculptures by Daniel Chester French that loom over the building’s entryway.  Fascinating and compelling pieces of public art, if tinged with a healthy dose of racism and imperialism.  The museum stands as a nice counterpoint to these classic pieces of late nineteenth-century ideology.DCFrench_sculptures

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