Torah Animal World and MoCADA

Torah Animal World was everything we thought it might be and more. In the living room of a Hasidic Rabbi (well, three living rooms) it is a museum devoted entirely to taxidermy (to Allison’s horror) of all the animals mentioned in Leviticus. Sharks? Yup. Giraffe from chest up? Yup. Snake made into belt with snake head still on? Yes.

What a Facade!

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Duncan gets friendly with a coelacanth.

Also in attendance that day was a family of Yiddish speakers (who could actually understand the welcome video, which was in Yiddish, natch) and National Geographic, doing a photo essay on… what else? Taxidermy. And Jewish World News 1, the television station you’ve never heard of who interviewed Allison as she wore the snake belt and waxed poetic about the impending closing of the museum and its contribution to the impoverishment of the outer borough cultural scene under the watchful gaze of the Rebbe.

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A writer, a rabbi, and a boom mic operator walk into a bar…

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Best museum ever.

After that amazing spectacle, we went to the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (“MoCADA”). It was closed. Again. The last time we went Duncan and Katherine were pulled over for running a red light on their bikes and fined $200 apiece only to find out it was closed for inventory.

Closed again

This time, we arrived via subway, only to find out it was closed for inventory. At the cost of $410, fuck it, we’re calling it visited.

Torah Animal World       3 stars

MoCADA     3 stars

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Allison (and friends Jessica, Andrew, Siena, Maia and Jessie’s parents).

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is very far from the subway. Like, far. And they won’t let you in without a child, though they are apologetic about it. So Allison  waited for friends and their two children before exploring the premises. It contained, unsurprisingly, both taxidermy and fake food, but also a water park for toddlers. Children’s museums are petrie dishes, and Allison clutched her bottle of hand-sanitizer like a rosary during a demon attack. Kids seemed to like it; the older one cried, “Ancora!” as we left. Allison’s friends are Italian.

Sandbox

Sandbox

Brooklyn Children’s Museum     3 stars

Girl Scout Museum and the Korea Society

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The mercury was hovering near 60 degrees when Allison and Katherine met up at the Girl Scout Museum. Our frigid welcome by the security guard (really, it’s your job to let us in; sorry if that’s inconvenient for you) was counteracted by the exceedingly warm embrace of the Girl Scout Museum docents. When they found out about our project, their joy knew no bounds, and our visit was live-tweeted. We’re now totally famous to those who follow the Girl Scout twitter feed.

We forgot to partake of the free cookies, but they weren’t thin mints, so….

Since it was so warm, we Citibiked it over the Korea Society. The one-room exhibit area showed traditional Korean boxes, which instigated a conversation about the free Korean pillow-making event being held that evening about which Allison and Duncan give no fucks.

Girl Scout Museum: 3 stars

Korea Society:            3 stars

bldg92

Today, we visited bldg92 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It’s housed in an awesome space and offers three floors detailing the history of the navy yards. On the first floor, one side of the space is dedicated to a massive timeline running from the mid-1700’s to the present. The other side is dedicated to the navy yard and its inhabitants today, with a big case exhibiting wares from some of the artisans and manufacturers that currently work out of navy yard. Accompanying the case was a wall of interactive narratives about select artisans, like woodworkers, metalworkers, artists, and device manufacturers, working in the navy yard, giving flavor and character to some of who’s keeping the area running these days. 

The historical narrative was tied closely to US history, broadening the perspective on a lot of the stories. It’s interesting to see how much it’s transformed and revived since 2000, particularly with the advent of cash cows like Steiner Studios.

Queens! Louis Armstrong, New York Hall of Science, Queens Botanical Garden

Louis Armstrong Museum + New York Hall of Science + Queens Botanical Garden

What’s hotter than hot? New York in July. What’s hotter than New York in July? A heat wave in New York in July. Who decides to visit museums in outer boroughs on our bicycles during a heat wave in New York in July? Allison and Duncan, that’s who.

After a decent slog over the Queensboro bridge, Duncan and Allison arrive at the Louis Armstrong Museum. “You are avid Louis fans?” the docent asks. Not exactly. The informational video is… informational. Then we are led upstairs to a house that looks uncannily like Allison’s deceased grandparents’ house: marble bathrooms, shag carpet, stand alone ashtrays. Inside of closets are wallpapered (in metallic palm frond prints), and hairbrushes, colognes and dirty cocktail novelty glasses are left as-in. The kitchen has a blender built into the counter.

The tour is led by a young black man, from the south, who is an opera major and a homosexual here for a junior year of college internship. He is much more interesting than a house from the 70s, though Louis Armstrong was indeed a virtuoso. Duncan bought Louis’ favorite laxative, and was upsold a postcard of Louis on his ornate john.

Louis Armstrong Museum:                           3 stars

On to lunch, which, since it is Duncan’s birthday weekend, he is allowed to choose. He picks, of all places, Pollo Campero, where he receives a free birthday flan. It is officially too hot for Allison to eat, that’s how hot it is.

Pollo Campero Esta Aqui!

The New York Hall of Science is everything the Museum of Math tried to be and failed, which is to say, in working order. A very cool place to take your tykes. The second floor is full of competitive physical challenges, which Allison and Duncan, competitive by nature, enjoyed, especially in the wake of Allison’s victory over Duncan at tennis the previous weekend. (Duncan won at most things; Allison won the reaction time challenge). The mini golf course looked like fun, but was, of course closed because of heat.

Duncan rode a bike

Sadly, there was taxidermy. Why is there always taxidermy????

Taxidermy...Why?

Taxidermy…Why?

Also, rhetorical questions got their own billboards.photo 4

And there was a very flattering hall of mirrors.

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New York Hall of Science                  3 stars

The Queens Museum of Art was closed for renovations. Hallelujah!

The Queens County Farm Museum is misnamed, we decided, and is actually on Long Island. Evidence that backs this assumption would be greatly appreciated.

The Queens Botanical Garden was approached over a steep bridge (Duncan had a bursitis abscess on his knee and no third ring on his bike, so when the road dead ended in a locked gate, Allison stuck her foot inside it, they admired it from afar and crossed it off the list. It was lovely. In fact, it was……. 3 stars.

photo 5Louis Armstrong House………….. 3 stars

New York Hall of Science………….3 stars

Queens Botanical Garden………….3 stars

Museum at Eldridge Street

Katherine and Duncan had visited this museum previously, but Allison went for the first time to the restored synagogue. Saved from dilapidation by a group of wealthy donors, it is now a working synagogue, but serves more as a museum of the history of Judaism on the Lower East Side (see also: The Tenement Museum). Some lovely friends from Potion are responsible for the interactive exhibits in the basement. Beautifully done, and the gift shop had a Passover coloring book. You can’t find those just anywhere. 

Looking forward to the event partnering Eldridge with its Chinatown neighbors: Egg Rolls and Egg Creams.

Museum at Eldridge Street: 3 stars

The Jewish Museum

One perfectly delightful thing about the Jewish Museum is that it’s free on Saturdays because Jews aren’t allowed to collect money on Saturdays. Hurray.

The Sagmeister and Walsh exhibit was stellar, each of the things an a gesture representing a  statement from Sagmeister’s diary that the artist believes has increased his personal happiness. They all look like they were a blast to create. Here’s one:

if We went for the Six Things: Sagmeister nd Walsh exhibit; we stayed for the sacrifices and offerings.

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photo6Here is something that  looks like  a nice  armoire (but is in fact a piece of furniture that has some significance to the Jewish faith), and a picture of me expressing my appreciation of the Star of David.

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Jewish Museum: Three stars of david.