When I was growing up in and around New York, the Huntington Hartford Museum was already an iconic eyesore at Columbus Circle. Lincoln Center, just up the block, was not considered too much better, I might add, for a world that had become used to the graciousness of Carnegie Hall and the cleaner modernist lines of the Seagram Building and Lever House and the first iteration of the Museum of Modern Art in the international style.
But like everything else, including husbands and children who eventually take on a patina of friendly terror, you grow used to the jolie laid quality. So the years of torture getting the new Museum of Art and Design built (architectural selection, public outcry, landmarks status petition, critical drubbing etc, all sanitized from their site but elegantly outlined in the above New York Times recap) make the completion of the project something of a miracle.
Brad Cloepfil and his Allied Works architectural team working with Pentagram for the interactives and curator Dorothy Globus on the installation have done a wonderful job creating and fitting out the newly light-filled spaces with elegant vitrines and pull out drawers that almost literally let you get your hands on the gorgeous merchandise. (In this year of the big necklace, I don't know one girl who isn't going to walk up to the second floor jewelry exhibits and drool.)
It is true that one of my favorite spaces remains the theater downstairs, a delight of sixties decorative architecture which has been beautifully restored and in which everything reminds me of something we had in my split level home in Westchester.
Photo of Zack Davis by Laurie Beckelman
But the biggest treat was seeing Zack Davis, an artist from SoCal down on the floor on his knees in his tux, getting messy with his portable kit of clay on the education floor, proving once and for all that there is no difference between craftspeople and artists in their willingness to throw themselves, literally, into what they are passionate about.