Long Island City
Directly east of the Queensboro Bridge lies Long Island City. Though largely a dreary industrial area filled with windowless factory buildings, Long Island City has in the last decade or so become home to a growing artistic community.
That fact went largely unnoticed by the general public until June 2002, when the Museum of Modern Art, undergoing extensive renovation, was temporarily located here. MoMA has since moved back to Manhattan, but, in the aftermath, Long Island City’s other museums and galleries are flourishing.
Noguchi Garden Museum
The austere Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (32-37 Vernon Blvd., at 33rd Rd., 718/204-7088, www.noguchi.org, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Fri., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sat.–Sun., adults $10, seniors and students $5) is housed in the late sculptor’s former studio. Its many rooms are filled with stone, metal, and wood sculptures, along with models of many large-scale environments designed by Noguchi.
A side yard holds a peaceful sculpture garden. On Sundays a shuttle bus to the museum leaves from the Asia Society in Manhattan (70th St. and Park Ave., check the website for schedule, round-trip $10).
Socrates Sculpture Park
Across the street from the Noguchi Museum is the delightful Socrates Sculpture Park (31-29 Vernon Blvd., at Broadway, 718/956-1819, www.socratessculpturepark.org, 9 a.m.–sunset daily, free). Dotted with huge outdoor sculptures, the park is the brainchild of artist Mark di Suvero. For 10 years, di Suvero and other area artists worked to turn the once-garbage-strewn lot into a bona fide park.
The city officially recognized their efforts in 1994, and the site is now part of New York’s park system. The park offers great views of Manhattan.
P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center
New York City’s premier center for art on the cutting edge, acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1999, P.S. 1 (22-25 Jackson Ave., at 46th St., 718/784-2084, www.ps1.org, noon–6 p.m. Thurs.–Mon., suggested admission adults $5, seniors and students $2.50) specializes in the avant-garde, conceptual, and experimental art. Housed in a four-story building that was once a public school, it offers artwork in all sorts of nooks and crannies—stairwells, basements, holes in the floor—as well as in large galleries. Two or three shows are usually featured at once, and traveling international shows are showcased as well.
To reach P.S. 1 from Manhattan, take the No. 7 train to 45th Road/Court House Square, or the E or F train to 23rd Street.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition