Queens Museum of Art in New York City
The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) is an art museum and educational center located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the borough of Queens in New York City, United States.
The Queens Museum of Art is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York. It is housed in the New York City Building that was constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair and hosted the United Nations General Assembly 1946-50. Founded in 1972, the museum houses the well known Panorama of the City of New York, a scale model of the five boroughs built for the 1964 World’s Fair.
Situated in the most diverse county in the United States, the museum has focused on outreach and access for a wide range of audiences. The Museum is known for international contemporary art exhibitions that reflect the hyper-diversity of the borough. The museum’s Education Department is the first in America to employ art therapists in a dedicated, fully accessible classroom, while the Public Events department has hired community organizers to work on local improvement initiatives.
Employing a multifaceted strategy of outreach, the Queens Museum is simultaneously a fine arts collecting museum, historical site, community center, and educational classroom.
The Queens Museum is located in the New York City Building, the historic pavilion designed by architect Aymar Embury II, and the only substantial structure remaining from the 1939 World’s Fair. From 1946 to 1950, the pavilion was the temporary home of the United Nations General Assembly, and was the site of numerous defining moments in the UN’s early years, including the creation of UNICEF, and the partitions of both Korea and Palestine. In 1964, the building was renovated by architect Daniel Chait and was once again used as the New York City Pavilion for the 1964 World’s Fair, where it displayed the Panorama of the City of New York. In 1972, with minor alterations, the north side of the New York City building was converted into the Queens Center for Art and Culture, later renamed the Queens Museum of Art. In 1994, the building underwent a renovation, with architect Rafael Viñoly reconfiguring the structure into galleries, classrooms, and offices.
Commencing in 2009, the museum will embark on a multi-million dollar expansion project that is slated to be completed in 2012. Grimshaw Architects along with the engineering firm of Ammann & Whitney have developed plans to double the museum’s size to 100000 sqft, as it will take over the entire New York City Building. The ice skating rink that has occupied the southern half of the building for six decades has been relocated to a new state-of-the-art recreational facility in the northeastern section of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Collections and exhibits
The museum’s permanent collection consists of around 10,000 items, over 6,000 of which are documents and objects related to the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, some of which are on long-term display. Recent acquisitions, either through purchase or donation, include works by Salvador Dali, Mark Dion, Andrew Moore’s photographs from Robert Moses and the Modern City, a collection of 20th century photographs from the 1964 World’s Fair Kodak Pavilion, crime scene photographs from the Daily New Archive 1920’s-1960’s, and nearly 1000 drawings by the court reporter and political cartoonist, William Sharp.
Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass
Since 1995, QMA has maintained a partnership with the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany glass. Selections from the collection are on long-term view. They are drawn from a large private Tiffany collection assembled by Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife Hildegard starting in the mid-1930s. The collection consists of windows, lamps, and related objects and also boasts an archive of nearly 300,000 pieces of flat and sheet glass used by the Tiffany Studios. An archive containing representative samples of each type, color, texture and pattern of this material is being established for exhibition and study.
The history of the creation of Tiffany's work is often stressed in the QMA exhibitions, as Tiffany Studios and Furnaces were once located in Corona New York.
Panorama of New York City
The best known permanent exhibition at the Queens Museum is the Panorama of the City of New York which was commissioned by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair. A celebration of the City’s municipal infrastructure, this 9335 sqft architectural model includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs; that is a total of 895,000 individual structures. The Panorama was built by a team of 100 people working for the architectural model makers Raymond Lester Associates in the three years before the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair. The Panorama was one of the most successful attractions at the ’64 Fair with a daily average of 1,400 people taking advantage of its 9 minute simulated helicopter ride around the City. After the Fair the Panorama remained open to the public and until 1970 all of the changes in the City were accurately recreated in the model by Lester’s team. After 1970 very few changes were made until 1992, when again Lester Associates was hired to update the model to coincide with the re-opening of the museum. The model makers changed over 60,000 structures to bring it up-to-date.
In March 2009 the museum announced the intention to update the panorama on an ongoing basis. To raise funds and draw public attention the museum will allow individuals to and developers to have accurate models made of buildings newer than the 1992 update created and added in exchange for a donation. Accurate models of smaller apartment buildings and private homes, now represented by generic models, can also be added. The twin towers of the World Trade Center will be replaced when the new buildings are created, the museum has chosen to allow them to remain until construction is complete rather than representing an empty hole. The first new buildings to be added was the new Citi Field stadium of the New York Mets. The model of the old Shea Stadium will continue to be displayed elsewhere in the museum.
Relief Map of the New York City Water Supply System
For the 1939 World’s Fair, city agencies were invited to produce exhibits for the New York City Pavilion (now the Queens Museum of Art). The Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity (a New York City Department of Environmental Protection predecessor agency) commissioned the Cartographic Survey Force of the Works Progress Administration to create the magnificent Relief Map of the New York City Water Supply System and watershed that you see in this room. Work began in 1938 and a team of map builders toiled over the map with an immense depression-era budget of $100,000.00 (roughly $1.5 million in today’s dollars). At 540 sqft the planners could not allocate enough space for the map in the city pavilion resulting in its elimination from the World’s Fair. Ten years later, it made its first and only public appearance at the city’s Golden Anniversary Exposition in Manhattan’s Grand Central Palace. After decades in storage, the 27- piece map was in desperate need of conservation. In October, 2006, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Queens Museum of Art sent the monumental Relief Map of the New York City Water Supply System to McKay Lodge Fine Arts Conservation Lab in Oberlin, Ohio for restoration. Over the next 18 months conservators and technicians worked on the model full-time, removing over 70 years of accumulated dirt and re-paintings. Clearing away the dirt and debris, they found much of the original geography and painted details to be intact or recoverable. Road maps and satellite images were used to restore lost portions of the model. In time for its 70th anniversary of the model, and the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the Catskill System construction, the map has been restored to its original form and has been installed at its intended home in the New York City Building (QMA) where it will remain on long-term loan.
QMA’s ongoing exhibition schedule reflects the Museum’s identity as a local and international art center—local in its focus on the myriad communities to which it belongs, and international in its embrace of artists from every corner of the globe – the very internationalism that is reflected in the hyper-diversity of Queens.
This internationalism has been a mainstay of the museum’s programming for decades. Examples include Across the Pacific: Contemporary Korean and Korean American Art (1993), Out of India: Contemporary Art of the South Asian Diaspora (1998), Modern Odysseys: Greek American Artists of the 20th Century (2000), and Translated Acts: Performance and Body Art from East Asia 1990-2001 (2001). Perhaps the best known of this series of international efforts was Global Conceptualism: Points Of Origin, 1950s-1980s. Presented at the museum in 1999 and followed buy a national tour, the exhibition, along with its publication, was a groundbreaking look at different approaches to conceptual art. Cai Guo-Qiang (1997) and Yue Minjun (2008) had their first American museum shows at QMA.
Queens International was established in 2002 as the Museum’s biennial survey of the artists living or working in Queens and celebrated the diversity of the borough. The first iteration of Queens International assembled 42 artists, more than half of whom were born outside the U.S. and retain a strong connection with their countries of origin. In 2004 Curator Hitomi Iwasaki culled 51 artists from more than 400 submissions and in 2006 curators Jaishri Abichandani, and Herb Tam selected 53 artists from more than 1000 submissions. Consistent throughout, Queens International has reflected both global influences and the realities of contemporary Queens, representing a full spectrum of generations, ethnic and national identities, career standing, media, and genres. Over the first three biennials more than 60% of the artists were women, and 62% were immigrants.
While the Museum sees Queens International as a vehicle to take the pulse of contemporary Queens, a particular focus is also placed on exhibitions that reflect the history of the site and the diversity of New York City. Examples include Salvador Dalí: Dream of Venus (2003), highlighting Dalí’s 1939 World’s Fair pavilion, a surrealist installation that stood in close proximity to the New York City Building during the Fair; Ralph Bunche: An American Legend (2004), chronicling the life, achievements, and legacy of Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche, an African-American U.N. diplomat and Queens resident who oversaw some of the most important negotiations during the time the U.N. was housed in the New York City Building; Down the Garden Path: The Artist’s Garden After Modernism (2005), using the Museum’s location in a park to feature newly commissioned works; and Robert Moses and the Modern City, the first major exhibition devoted to Moses since his death in 1981, organized by architectural historian Hilary Ballon, presented simultaneously at the Museum of the City of New York, and the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University. The museum has also been involved in commissioning or exhibiting site specific work including Wendy Ewald’s collaboration with Arab-American middle schoolers in Jackson Heights, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao’s photographic series on the number 7 subway line, and Pedro Lasch’s work with the local organizations Asociación Tepeyac de New York and Mexicanos Unidos de Queens.
Education and outreach
Each year, through exhibitions and programs QMA serves about 200,000 visitors. Attendance is drawn from Queens, the other NYC boroughs and Nassau County as well as international visitors. QMA audiences are distinguished by the diversity of visitors, reflecting the variety of ethnicities living in the borough. Over the last 20 years, a demographic shift has transformed Queens into the most culturally diverse county in the nation, according to the 2000 census: 37% of the population is White, 25% Latino, 20% African-American, and 18% Asian. There are roughly 138 languages spoken in Queens, and more than half of the households are run by people born outside of the United States.
The Queens Museum of Art's learning programs annually engage over 30,000 adults and children of all ages and abilities. The majority of its offerings have been created in partnership with cultural, community and educational organizations in the borough. The ArtAccess program, led by three staff art therapists, annually serves children and adults with physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities, as well as varying learning styles and expressive needs. Using such techniques and materials as tactile aids, music, and games, ArtAccess is nationally known and has been honored by Mayor Bloomberg and Very Special Arts. The New New Yorkers program, unique in museums, provides courses to adult immigrants in digital and fine arts in Spanish, Mandarin and Korean, as well ESOL through the Arts, all in collaboration with the Queens Library. Family Programs include free Sunday Drop-in Art Workshops for the whole family and a monthly First Sunday for Families event. School Programs range from single class trips to multi-year museum-school partnerships. Students study art, architecture, design, geography, and history in connection with the museum’s exhibitions and collections. Other ongoing school programs include after school classes in partnership with specific schools and Queens Teens, winner of the 2008 Presidential Coming Up Taller award, a multi-year career training program that immerses high school students in museum administration, museum education, and art interpretation, while building leadership, communication, and organizational skills. Senior Programs include a film series, classical music concerts and slide talks.
The Public Events Department at the Queens Museum of Art was founded in 2002, and in response the museum’s attendance has grown as Queens residence without prior museum-going habits began coming to QMA events in greater numbers. QMA Public Events programs fall into four major categories: Exhibition-Related Events, Community Partnerships, Passport Fridays, and the Heart of Corona Project.
Exhibition-Related Events: The museum offers visitors a range of film screenings, dance performances, musical experiences, and public dialogues to provide a point of entry for understanding exhibitions. For example, the exhibition Generation 1.5 was complemented and contextualized through artists’ talks, a poetry series in the galleries, and dance performances exploring the theme of bicultural identity.
Community Partnership: By developing ongoing relationships with more than 40 community organization (e.g. Asian Americans for Equality, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, and the Latin American Cultural Center) the museum has co-produced and co-presented events and programs to highlight Queens cultural assets while attracting diverse audiences. Programs have included “Think Globally, Film Locally,” the two-day series of films representing the diverse populations and stories of Queens, the South Asian Music & Dance Festival, the Jewish Culture Festival, as well as cultural events such as El Dia del Niño (Day of the Child), Chinese New Year, and Queerin’ Queens. Cinemarosa, (“Queens’ Only Queer Film Series”) maintains its monthly schedule of screenings at the museum.
Passport Fridays: Since its premiere in 2004, this series of movies-under-the-stars every Friday evening in the summer has grown in scope, genre, and reach. Each event features a full evening of dance and music performance followed by an outdoor film screening in front of the museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, all of which are free of charge. QMA dance residency program, Dance in Queens, a partnership with Topaz Arts, attracts contemporary dance companies in who rehearse for free in our gallery space to develop new choreography.
"The Heart of Corona Project" is a multifaceted off-site project in Corona. Comprising large scale community festivals, public art, performances, and clean-up days, the initiative seeks to bring attention to, and help form partnerships around the improvement of Corona Plaza at 103rd and Roosevelt Avenue. The project is a partnership with numerous local groups as well as healthcare providers and Elmhurst Hospital.
- Official website
- 1964/1965 New York World's Fair Website
- New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
- QMA on Facebook
- QMA's photostream on Flickr