BY JOE MARVILLI
After two years of construction, the new Queens Museum will open its doors this weekend.
The $69 million expansion took over the adjacent ice rink, doubling the size of the museum to 105,000-square-feet, adding a significant amount of performance and exhibit space. The museum took the opportunity of the ice rink moving to expand, as it had reached capacity for school trips or special events. Besides the new galleries and displays, the museum is also cultivating an image of openness.
“We are embracing the history of the site and contemporary multi-cultural Queens. Our one-word mission statement is openness,” Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of the Queens Museum, said. “The idea is to really bridge across the different parts of Queens, different languages, different cultures, embracing old Queens and new Queens.”
While there have been two and a half years of construction to put the new museum together, it only had to close for the summer. In those couple of years, the ice rink has been transformed into galleries, classrooms and a giant open space that will hold exhibits, performances and activities for patrons to enjoy. The main lobby has three giant see-through windows, offering those inside a view of the Unisphere.
The famous Panorama of the City of New York has been given a more visible space and will be joined by a long-term display of the City’s watershed.
“I believe the place is going to look open. You’d drive past on the Grand Central in the old days and it looked like kind of a relic,” Finkelpearl said. “That’s really not going to be the case now.”
For its opening, the main floor space will display two exhibits of differing viewpoints. Peter Schumann’s “The Shatterer” is his first solo museum exhibition. Schumann’s display will include two large-scale immersive installations that combine painting, drawing, papier-mâché sculpture and handmade books, rendered in black, white and grey. At the same time, Pedro Reyes’ exhibit, “The People’s United Nations (pUN),” will bring together 195 New Yorkers who are immigrants or have roots in the 195 UN member countries. On Nov. 23-24, these creative individuals will try to solve the world’s problems through theater games and social science techniques. Sculptures that address social issues will be on display. Those two exhibits will be open until the end of March.
Once the museum opens, there will still be some work to do for phase two, which will include a branch of the Queens Library and educational classrooms. That will take place a year and a half from now.
“People will walk in the door expecting something excellent and not be disappointed,” Finkelpearl said.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.