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Concierge.com

NYC

NYC

By russlaw1
Trip Plan Tags: 
arts + culture,
educational,
romantic
Destinations: 
Chelsea,
Chinatown,
Midtown West,
New York,
New York City,
North America,
Soho,
United States,
Upper East Side,
Upper West Side

Fourth of July fun.

ITEMS

See + Do

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side
New York City, New York 10028
Tel: 212 535 7710
Website: www.metmuseum.org

Philippe de Montebello, who was the director of this epic museum for 31 years, once said that you can tour its highlights in an hour if you look selectively and walk very fast. Not to argue with the man, but we're not sure we believe it. You could spend weeks here admiring the collections. Among the highlights: a European painting gallery packed with masterpieces (Rembrandt, Giotto, Caravaggio, Raphael, Goya, El Greco, Turner, Vermeer, Degas, Renoir, and Cézanne are all represented); a trove of Egyptian art and artifacts, including the showstopping reconstructed Temple of Dendur; an impressive selection of Greek and Roman statuary; American paintings and sculpture from colonial times through the present day; and prehistoric artifacts from all over the globe. Our suggestion is to pick two or three small sections you'd like to see, and then return another day for a few more. Or browse some of the less-appreciated and less crowded—but no less stunning—collections, such as the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, or the smallish but exquisite galleries of Modern Art. The museum's Costume Institute displays portions of its extensive collection of clothing from around the world in themed exhibits twice a year. Also make time to sit and people-watch in the common areas, such as the space by the American Wing Café, overlooking a fountain—you'll rarely hear as many languages spoken in one place. And if you're looking to actually meet one of those people, let us suggest the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden (closed in winter), accessed by the southwest elevators on the first floor. It has amazing views of Central Park, hosts sculpture exhibits, and serves up simple drinks such as beer and wine. The Met is pretty much always buzzing, but the crowds thin on Friday and Saturday nights, when the museum stays open until 9:00 p.m.; members can get into some exhibits half an hour before they open to the public in the mornings.

Closed most Mondays.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

1071 Fifth Avenue at E. 89th Street
New York City, New York 10128
Tel: 212 423 3500
Website: www.guggenheim.org

The unique spiral building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—reluctantly, since he thought New York was too overbuilt—tends to overshadow the collections within. Designed as a reverse version of a Babylonian temple, the Guggenheim completely changed museum-going, sending visitors to the top floor first and then allowing them to wind their way down along a corkscrew ramp. What they see as they go are special exhibitions, like the 2008 installation by Cai Guo-Qiang that saw cars suspended from the central atrium—an exhibition described by Guggenheim director Thomas Krens as one of the "best artistic transformations of the Frank Lloyd Wright space we've ever seen." There are also rooms devoted to selections from the Guggenheim Foundation's eclectic collection, including sculptures by Brancusi and Arp and paintings by Picasso, Pissarro, de Kooning, Klee, and Jeff Koons. There are frequent traveling exhibitions, and since the museum has outposts in other cities such as Bilbao and Venice, pieces may circulate from other locations.

Open Saturdays through Wednesdays 10 am to 5:45 pm, Fridays 10 am to 7:45 pm (admission is by donation after 5:45 pm).

See + Do

Neue Galerie, New York

1048 Fifth Avenue
New York City, New York 10028
Tel: 212 628 6200
Website: www.neuegalerie.org

Between the Met and the Guggenheim sits the Neue Galerie, the most recent (2001) addition to Museum Mile. A former home of society grande dame Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III, it displays a modest but focused collection of early 20th-century Austrian and German art and design—Egon Schiele's disconcerting studies of male-female relationships; Gustav Klimt's dazzling first portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, with its luminous patchwork of gold and silver; an elegantly simple table fan by Josef Hoffman. The museum's founders, Austrian art dealer Serge Sabarsky and cosmetics mogul Ronald Lauder, have put in a tiny design shop and Café Sabarsky, which evokes a Viennese café, in fitting with the theme (212-288-0665; kg-ny.com).

Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

See + Do

Frick Collection, New York

1 E. 70th Street
New York City, New York 10021
Tel: 212 288 0700
Website: www.frick.org

A real find among the city's museums, this collection housed in an exquisite Beaux Arts mansion on the Upper East Side represents the personal holdings of Henry Clay Frick. The 19th-century industrialist had excellent taste: Among the exhibits are rare collections of Limoges enamels, Chinese porcelains, French 18th-century furniture, and a who's who of painters from Rembrandt to Gainsborough to Vermeer. Proust scholars will enjoy Whistler's dark-hued portrait of Robert de Montesquiou, Arrangement in Black and Gold, the inspiration for the Baron de Charlus in Remembrance of Things Past. The quasi-residential setting—the antithesis of the Metropolitan Museum—lets you imagine living amongst this exquisite art.

Closed Mondays.

See + Do

The Cloisters, New York

Fort Tryon Park, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Upper West Side
New York City, New York 10040
Tel: 212 923 3700
Website: www.metmuseum.org/cloisters/events/

A branch of the Met devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, the Cloisters is a series of medieval passageways reconstructed from French monasteries and incorporated within a modern museum. Situated in Fort Tyron Park at the northern tip of Manhattan above 189th Street, the museum exists largely thanks to a generous endowment from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who helped the Met purchase not only the collection but the new building and 700 acres of land in New Jersey, which preserves the bucolic views across the Hudson. The collection includes tapestries, stained-glass windows, illuminated manuscripts, and sculpture, mainly from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The Cloisters is a popular destination on sweltering summer days, when strolling the cool, calm passageways and gardens is a heavenly respite from the urban madness.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9:30 am to 4:45 pm (November to February), 9:30 am to 5:15 pm (March to October). M-4 bus, with stops along Madison Avenue above 34th Street, is best direct transit to the park. You can also take the 1 train on the subway.

See + Do

Soho

This area, bounded by Houston Street to the north and Canal Street to the south and stretching from Lafayette Street to Varick Street, has gone from a manufacturing center to an artists' haven to an upscale shopping area. Unfortunately the quirkier designers have been elbowed aside by big-ticket international brands, though sometimes with designer architecture to match—don't miss the undulating magnetic staircase at Longchamp or Rem Koolhaas's over-the-top design for Prada. Despite the crowds of shoppers on weekends, parts of Soho are still very New York: The grande dame of downtown bistros, Raoul's, has been turning out its signature steak au poivre since the '70s—its peppercorn excellence must be tasted to be understood. Not far away is Bar 89, infamous for its single-occupant bathrooms upstairs: The doors are glass, but they frost over as soon as you close them. Stop in for a drink at Soho Grand, get a bowl of exceptional homemade soup from the stand on the corner of Mercer and Spring, and note the historic cast-iron buildings and the feeling of an older New York (except for the apartments that rent for $3,500 a month). On the southern stretches, around Broome, Grand, and Howard streets, you'll still see holdover individual boutiques mixed in with the Vuittons and Chanels; Mercer, Wooster, and Greene streets host a number of high-end furniture shops, and throughout the neighborhood street vendors hawk everything from handmade greeting cards to jewelry to vintage dresses. After hours, hit Blue Ribbon for late-night comfort food or La Esquina for haute-Mexican in a speakeasy setting.

ALT HERE

See + Do

Museum of Modern Art, New York

11 W. 53rd Street
New York City, New York 10019
Tel: 212 708 9400
Website: www.moma.org

The world's preeminent museum for modern art reopened in November 2004 on its original site in a new building designed by architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The new structure extensively expanded gallery space and added a soaring light-filled atrium 110 feet high. The walls themselves were designed to seem as if they float in space, reinforcing the idea that the building itself is an attraction. (Curiously, the new design also seems to bring in a lot more ambient noise than before, so on crowded days the resulting roar can be very distracting.) Then of course there's the art: The masterpieces in the permanent collection are too numerous to mention—among them Van Gogh's The Starry Night, Dalí's The Persistence of Memory, Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon—and the collections of contemporary architecture, design, and photography could fill museums of their own. There's so much, in fact, that visitors are advised to keep their eyes peeled at all times—a very important piece, Matisse's Dance (I), hangs unceremoniously over the back stairwell, for example. If your schedule allows, avoid the steep $20 admission fee by attending "Free Fridays" from 4 pm to 8 pm (although it can get very crowded); the ever-present crowds dwindle a bit on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. Inspired to take a piece of art home but don't fancy getting involved in a heist? The MoMa Design Store (there's also a Soho outpost) is a must-see, with everything from Frank Gehry stools to Banksy books to delicate metal light fixtures by Tord Boontje.

See + Do

Chinatown, New York

New York City, New York
Website: www.explorechinatown.com

The largest Asian community in North America has expanded its territory over the years, reaching into the Lower East Side and Little Italy; Manhattan's Chinatown now extends from Worth St. to Broome St. between Broadway and Madison St., but the main streets are Canal and Mott. The area is packed with markets overflowing with vegetables and fish, restaurants and noodle shops, stores selling everything from silk robes to discount luggage, and basement massage parlors where you can get a good, cheap shiatsu. If you don't like crowds, though, beware: It's a virtual mosh pit of humanity down here, and challenging to negotiate on foot. But there's also a spiritual side, particularly in the Eastern States Buddhist Temple on Mott St., where golden Buddhas are lit by candlelight.

See + Do

Chelsea Gallery District, New York

W. 13th to W. 29th Streets from 10th Avenue to the West Side Highway
New York City, New York

There's no better place to survey the most buzzed-about names in contemporary art than in west Chelsea. On Saturdays, these blocks crawl with curious onlookers and art investors on the prowl for the next Jeff Koons. Though some critics carp about Chelsea's increasing predictability (yes, that's another Warhol), there's still plenty of cutting-edge fare on display. The area is home to 230 venues, from the not-for-profit, contemporary gallery CUE Art Foundation (511 W. 25th St.; 212-206-3583; www.cueartfoundation.org) to blue-chip dealers such as PaceWildenstein (545 W. 22nd St. and 534 W. 25th St.; 212-989-4258; www.pacewildenstein.com) and the Gagosian Gallery (555 W. 24th St. and 522 W. 21st St.; 212-741-1111; www.gagosian.com). When planning your stroll, keep in mind that galleries often keep limited hours or are open by appointment only; www.chelseaartgalleries.com provides a good overview of the area. Art critic Merrily Kerr runs excellent tours of the neighborhood, taking you to a range of galleries and helping to put the pieces into context with what's going on in the larger art world.

Puzzling over video installations and abstract paintings is bound to leave you hungry—luckily, the district happens to be flanked by Tenth Avenue's excellent swath of restaurants, like Cookshop's locally sourced American cuisine (156 Tenth Ave.; 212-924-4440; www.cookshopny.com). After lunch, wander above it all on the High Line, a former elevated train line that has been converted into a park overlooking the city and the Hudson River.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.