If you haven’t gotten your fill of spring showers, head over to the Rain Room at the MoMA, a magical place where you can walk through a rainstorm without getting wet. Picture a pitch black room with a singular bright light source illuminating millions of drops of water falling from the ceiling into the grates below your feet. The collective sound of those drops is surprisingly loud, masking your own footsteps, making you feel disconcertingly invisible. But it doesn’t compare to how otherworldly it seems to calmly walk through the spigots of water only to have them cease above your head, to be surrounded by the rainfall literally in all directions.
The Rain Room is the brainchild of design studio rAndom International, who first debuted the installation last October at the Barbican in London. The British unsurprisingly glommed onto the spectacle of indoor rain, with queues reaching a record-setting twelve hours in length by the time the exhibit ended in March. Just a few weeks into our run across the pond, lines are already approaching serious commitment levels—anywhere from 2.5-6 hours on weekends. Museum members have priority access and a special members-only hour from 9:30AM – 10:30AM, but even they are looking at multiple hour waits. Regular visitors should add an additional two hours. Reason for the outrageous wait time? The exhibit admits anywhere from 8-10 individuals at once with no maximum stay length. Most people leave in under 15 minutes, but you can see how this can easily add up.
Pro tip #1: follow the MoMA on Twitter (@MuseumModernArt) for the most updated wait time estimates; don’t bother trying to call the switchboard.
Pro tip #2: Check out the the live stream photographs of the Rain Room at MoMAPS1.org/expo1.
Pro tip #3: If you get there and give up on the line, we highly recommend hopping on the E train for a quick 12-minute subway ride to the MoMA PS1 across the river. Even though the Rain Room is housed at the MoMA—or, more accurately, a lot next to the MoMA—it is part of the PS1’s well-curated Expo 1: New York, which ambitiously includes a school, cinema, colony, pool, and much more, all tied together under a common environmental theme.
Or, pack a book and a lunch and wait in the midtown line. Either way, it’s shaping up to be a great summer for contemporary art in NYC.
The Rain Room runs from May 12 to July 28.
Get in touch with the author @plainjanehu.
If the shopping hordes in Soho start to trample all over your feet and spirit, duck into the Evolution Store on Spring Street just a few short blocks from Broadway. Self titled “NYC’s premiere retail outlet for science and natural history collectibles, artifacts, gifts, and home furnishings,” the Evolution Store is one part natural history museum and one part some collector’s musty attic, the kind that’s the opening scene to some heartfelt children’s adventure movie about a board game coming to life.
And comparisons to Manhattan’s own American Museum of Natural History abound; both are packed with dried and taxidermied animals in life-like repose. But you can’t walk out of the AMNH with your very own shrunken head. Or glimpse the rare northeastern squirranha, a part-squirrel, part-piranha monstrosity. Or maybe you just want to buy some brain-shaped soap for a housewarming gift or further cement your “favorite uncle” status buy bringing your nieces some scorpion-encased lollipops. In any case, the Evolution Store could be a worthwhile stop for you.
The Evolution Store
120 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
Get in touch with the author @plainjanehu.
It all started one afternoon when I was making the trek out to Flushing to meet a friend for some good Chinese food. As the 7 train emerged above ground from Manhattan to Queens, out of the left side of the train appeared this factory-like building covered all over with colorful graffiti. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And, being above ground, I didn’t hesitate to immediately google my location: 5Pointz.
Once appropriately known as the Little Theatre, the Helen Hayes Theatre is the smallest Broadway theatre with just over 600 seats. In fact, when it first opened in 1912, it had half the seating capacity, and its intimate productions led the way for what became known as the Little Theatre Movement in the early 20th century. The theatre is also unique for its Neo-Classical faÃ§ade, standing out among a sea of other Classical or Beaux Arts theatres on Broadway.
The theatre changed hands””and names””a few times in the hundred years of its existence. In 1931, it was sold to the New York Times and converted into a conference hall. CBS used the theatre as a radio studio, ABC as a television studio. Notable filmings and broadcasts include “The Dick Clark Show”, Johnny Carson’s “Who Do You Trust?”, “The Merv Griffin Show”, and “The David Frost Show”, so basically a who’s who of early twentieth century television. During this illustrious period, the theatre was renamed four times, twice of which were the Little Theatre.
The theatre was finally christened the Helen Hayes Theatre after the original Helen Hayes Theatre on West 46th Street was bulldozed to make room for a Marriott hotel. Because Ms. Hayes was still alive at the time, the powers that be decided to rename the Little Theatre in her name rather than have her outlive her monument.
Since 1979, the theatre has been privately owned and operated, and home to over twenty Broadway productions, including current production “Rock of Ages.” In 2008, it was announced that Second Stage Theatre, the fifth largest NY non-profit theatre company, was planning on acquiring the Helen Hayes. With a projected first season starting next year, Second Stage Theatre’s Helen Hayes will become the only Broadway theatre dedicated solely to plays and musicals written by American playwrights and composers.
Second Stage is requesting support for the restoration of the faÃ§ade of the theatre, including repair of the entranceway, surrounding columns and cornice, signage, windows, shutters, lighting, and masonry. However, a bit ironically, management did not allow this photographer to take photos of the exterior faÃ§ade for this article. For those curious, please feel free to Google Image Search the theatre.
Helen Hayes Theater [Map]
240 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
Untapped Cities is an official blog ambassador for Partners in Preservation , a community-based initiative by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to raise awareness of the importance of historic places. Stay up-to-date with Untapped’s coverage of all 40 sites by following our Partners in Preservation category.
The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum in idyllic Pelham Bay Park is not an easy destination to reach (you can take the Metro North or take the #6 all the way to the end of the line). But once you’re here, it’s a real gem””the only standing historic mansion in Pelham from the mid-20th century.
There’s a term in Japanese called hanami, which means “enjoying the beauty of flowers.” And last weekend at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I fully understood what that term meant. The cherry blossoms (sakura) are in full bloom, casting a gorgeous pink canopy above the heads of picnickers fortunate enough to venture there.*