Guide to MoMA PS1

Gillian Osswald

An abandoned public school lends both a name and a building to one of the country’s largest and oldest contemporary art institutions. Queens’ MoMA PS1, the Long Island City affiliate of Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art, transformed the space with site-specific installations exhibited throughout the classrooms, beginning with the inaugural 1976 group show, Rooms. Since then, the museum has continued to display art with an adventurous, transformative spirit while playing off its site’s origins. Stroll through classroom-size galleries and stairwells that have been converted into art spaces. The schoolhouse vibe even extends to the restaurant, which resembles a cafeteria, although patrons should expect elevated Quebecois cuisine from chef Hugue Dufour.

Instead of housing a permanent collection, the museum acts as an exhibition space, hosting an ever-changing array of works from experimental and emerging artists, in addition to a series of long-term installations. The variable contents of the galleries, as well as a rotating program of special events, make for a dynamic museum experience. Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your visit.

How to Get There
E, M train to Court Square-23rd Street; G to Court Square or 21st Street-Jackson Avenue; 7 to Court Square

Address
22-25 Jackson Ave. (between 46th Ave. and 46th Rd.), Long Island City, Queens

Hours
Thursday–Monday, noon to 6pm

Admission
$10 for adults; $5 for students and seniors; free for kids under 16 and (until October 15, 2017) NYC residents

James Turrell: Meeting. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

Highlights: Long-Term Installations

Fifteen installations are integrated throughout the museum, expanding upon the building’s original architecture. One of the most notable is James Turrell’s Meeting. This “skyspace,” which was commissioned in 1976, centers around a cut-out in the ceiling of an old classroom that reveals the sky above. The lighting system in the room enhances evening viewings, as it is synchronized with the sunset.

Sol LeWitt’s Crayola Square is a crayon drawing that recreates his contribution to the Brooklyn Bridge Event—the first exhibition by the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, as MoMA PS1 was initially known. The piece stands out not only for its dark color against a cinderblock wall but also for its location in a small basement alcove that makes viewing it feel a bit like uncovering a secret.

Saul Melman: Central Governor. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

Central Governor, by Saul Melman, is also tucked away in the basement boiler room of the museum. The artist created this striking work by applying gold leaf to the building’s 112-year-old original furnace. A small section of the pipes and boiler, though, are only partially covered in gold, suggesting that even this monolithic object could be active, its transformation unfinished.

Ernesto Caivano: In The Woods. Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

Heading up the stairways of the museum is more than a functional move; it’s a reminder that the art here doesn’t always play by the rules. Four of the museums site-specific installations spill into the stairwells, including Cecily Brown’s Untitled, Abigail Lazkoz’ Cameraman and Stair Procession, by William Kentridge. Ernesto Caivano’s In the Woods covers Stairwell A with trees painted in black that climb the walls alongside the viewer.

Ian Cheng: Emissary in the Squat of Gods (live simulation and story, infinite duration, 2015)

Highlights: Temporary Exhibitions

These exhibitions are the current stars of PS1’s galleries, but they aren’t permanent. Explore them before they’re gone. 

Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
Rive by Jon Verney

large scale photographs made specifically for the SACI New York Gallery space

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
Made in New York City

This exhibit explores the role of folk art in New York City dating back to the 18th century.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
Jeffrey Gibson: The Anthropophagic Effect

Multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson's work is on display at this elaborate exhibit at the New Museum.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated

Japan’s most celebrated work of literature, The Tale of Genji, tells the story of the “Shining Prince," which serves as inspiration for the Met's new exhibition.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
T. rex: The Ultimate Predator

The American Museum of Natural History's latest dinosaur exhibit tracks the evolution of the world’s greatest carnivore.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
Cycling in the City

The Museum of the City of New York's new exhibit traces the history of bicycles in the City.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
Steve Hiett: Beyond Blonde

British fashion photographer Steve Hiett gets a US exhibition.

More Info
Mar
20

Things to Do
Stonewall 50 Events at the NYPL Branches

The New York Public Library celebrates the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with a series of special events across NYC.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
James Van Der Zee: Studio

Exhibition of 40 portraits from noted African-American photographer.

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
The Value of Sanctuary

an artistic exploration of the role of the Cathedral as a sanctuary

More Info
Mar
20

Museums & Galleries
Ashley Longshore at DVF Flagship

International Women’s Month pop-up gallery at the DVF flagship store.

More Info
Mar
21

Museums & Galleries
Sugar Hill Songbook: Select Work by Faith Ringgold

This exhibit at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling celebrates the work of writer and artist Faith Ringgold.

More Info

M. Wells Dinette. Photo: Jesse Winter

What else?

To fuel your exploration at the museum, be sure to stop in M. Wells Dinette. This eatery is styled like a pared-down school cafeteria and specializes in food almost as adventurous as the art. The menu changes regularly, but expect to encounter items like braised tripe and a steak tartare sandwich.

Advertisement

Photo: Loren Wohl

MoMA PS1’s annual concert series, Warm Up, complements the gallery experience by holding shows within the outdoor sculpture garden. The series, like the museum itself, is committed to featuring innovative and up-and-coming artists. Hear acts like ASAP Ferg, Jackmaster and Actress on Saturdays (3pm) from July 1 to September 2.


Advertisement