Making The Most of Manhattan’s Mid-Sized Museums


While we wait for NYC's cultural heavyweights to launch their blockbuster fall exhibitions–Matisse at MoMA; Cubism at the Met–there are plenty of gallery openings and smaller, more specialized museums putting on interesting shows to keep us culturally active. Recently I cruised through a pair of fun shows at two of Manhattan's mid-sized museums, the MAD Biennial in Columbus Circle, and Nam June Paik at the Asia Society on the Upper East Side and, for different reasons, enjoyed both, even though, in the case of the Paik, I left feeling like I wanted more. 

An array of artwork at the Museum of Art and Design's exhibition, NYC Makers.

NYC Makers at the Museum of Art and Design

The first such exhibition organized by MAD's new director, Glenn Adamson, showcases the work of artists and designers currently living and creating within the five boroughs. With a full 100 "makers" contributing recent projects, there's plenty here to look at, interact with, be delighted by, or dismiss. Some of my favorite objects/environments include The DepthKit's 3-D wireframe imaging system (basically, stand in from the camera and go whoa…); the wall of Jason Polan's inimitable line drawings of museum goers (by the way, if you're an Instagram user, you should definitely follow Polan); Ralph Pucci's line up of bright red mannequins; and the over-the-top glittery wall (and elevator) decor courtesy of ConfettiSystem. Two of MAD's main exhibition floors are crammed full with such items, making the NYC Makers a solid value for your museum-going dollar. Note: this is a holdover from the summer; ends October 12. 

Three large robots designed by artist Naim June Paik line the walls of the Asia Society Museum in NYC.

Becoming Robot at The Asia Society

Over on the east side, on Park and 70th, The Asia Society just opened Becoming Robot, a retrospective of video-art pioneer Nam June Paik. Although Paik was born in Korea and spent much of his youth in Germany, it wasn't until he moved to New York City in the mid-1960s that his artistic career really started to blossom, and he spent the better part of the next 40 years here. The exhibition Becoming Robot has some great stuff, particularly his iconic TV-robots which, though familiar, are pretty fantastic live, and much larger than I expected. The old clip of Paik's K-456 robot walking through NYC streets in 1982 is also fun, especially when it gets hit by a car. And I even liked Paik's later pieces, the paint-spattered televisions in the exhibition's final gallery.


Museum-goers taking in one of the robots at the latest exhibition at the Asia Society Museum

 For Museum Hours and More Information

 NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial, will be at the Museum of Art and Design through October 12th. MAD is located at Columbus Circle at 59th Street, and is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., expect for Thursday and Friday, when it's open until 9:00.  Becoming Robot: Nam June Paik will be at The Asia Society through January 4. The Asia Society is located on Park Avenue between 70th and 71st Streets, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except for Fridays, when it stays open until 9:00.  

A few of the hundred of pieces of art on display as part of the new exhibition NYC Makers at the Museum of Art and Design

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