www.brooklynmuseum.orgHave you been to the Brooklyn Museum recently? Why not? You need some joy, and this is the place to find it. Inside the grand classical facade (McKim, Mead, and White), lies the foundation of a spectacular day trip—perhaps even a weekend. Located near the source of a grand parkway (New York’s rival to the Champs Elysées, with side roads, century-old trees, and modest apartment houses that keep the area flooded with the kind of light so rapidly disappearing in Manhattan), its immediate neighbors include the Botanic Gardens, the Brooklyn Public Library (an Art Deco landmark), and Prospect Park. And that’s only on the outside.
Inside, Gustave Caillebotte is the current headliner, with many paintings held privately by his family seen for the first time — along with a series of model hulls for the sailboats he designed (when was the last time you found art and hulls by the same artist in the same space)?
Then, move on to the world-class collections and friendly, knowledgeable guards (who act, and sound, suspiciously like former curators at the Hermitage). Here’s some of what you can get: Egypt, America, Africa, Asia, contemporary art (including Judy Chicago’s entire Dinner Party), all carefully edited and displayed, the better to take it in. And there’s more: some nifty industrial design, and yes, a terrific shop.
And the joy comes not only from the art itself: on a recent visit, there were children everywhere — sitting on the floor entranced by a docent describing long-ago Brooklyn, running enthusiastically through the Luce Design Collection, drawing everything in sight, and posing proudly for photos in front of the objects that inspired them.
It can be done in one day but—if you’re smart and curious—leave time to walk around Park Slope and sample some local cuisine. Traveling is easy, with a parking lot in back and a subway in front: the 2 and 3 trains make it back to Midtown in under half an hour. The station itself (Eastern Parkway/Brooklyn Museum) has been turned into a gallery, with sculptural fragments embedded in its walls. (More full disclosure: I spent part of my childhood, and many delerious hours, exploring this treasure from cellar to attic. The big news: it hasn’t gotten older — only fresher, brighter, and exponentially better.) See, and love, it for yourself! www.brooklynmuseum.org