Listen. We love culture as much as the next guy. The editors here at Joonbug enjoy rolling out of bed at noon on a Saturday (or one, or two) and heading to our favorite fine art institution. But we are not about to waste our hard-earned weekends on New York tourist traps. And as it turns out, staring at paintings is a favorite activity of the Times Square-loving, Ray's Famous Pizza-eating, crisp white tennis shoe-wearing museumgoers...so the MoMA and Guggenheim will have to wait. Rather than shelling out to bump shoulders with a stroller-toting family of four, consider some of these exhibits that have been happily forgotten by the fannypack crowd:
Remember the Tim Burton exhibit at the MoMA last year? Neither do we. That creepy goth guy with the 9 inch platforms kept finding his way in front of us. But there's mythical land out there where an even greater exhibit is taking place -- no, not Wonderland. We're talking about Queens.
The Museum of the Modern Image unveiled its acclaimed exhibit "Jim Henson's Fantastic World" this summer, and it's still going strong. The show features hundreds of artifacts from Henson's workshops, including drawings, storyboards, and the Muppets themselves. You can also see the evolution of Henson's process through photos of his first projects and videos of his early work. The exhibit covers everything -- from Sesame Street to Fraggle Rock, from his 1960's commercial work to features like The Dark Crystal. Tickets are $12, and the exhibit closes in January.
The museum at FIT is the only one of its kind in America -- that is to say, it's the only American museum dedicated solely to fashion, with over 10,000 pieces in storage and a partnership with European collections like Musée de la Mode. Unlike the Met, whose recent Alexander McQueen exhibition (the first fashion collection in the museum's history) sold over 150,000 tickets, the museum at FIT sees less than 100,000 guests per year -- making it the perfect underground destination for the couture-conscious. Best of all, admission is free.
While the museum often curates collections of those who design the clothes, this time around they're featuring someone who wears them. Daphne Guinness -- "the most stylish woman living," according to designer Tom Ford -- opened her closet to FIT on September 16. Guinness (yes, she's related to that Guinness), is known for having one of the most to-die-for set of garments in the world, featuring custom-made pieces by Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Valentino. In addition to showing off some killer shoes (seriously, there are at least two pairs of McQueen boots that could be used as weapons), the museum hopes to draw attention to fashion consumers -- Guinness, along with the likes of Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama -- who have shaped what we wear.
Exhibits range from the naturist ("The Sex Lives of Animals") to the freaky ("Kink"), but the most titillating of the current collection might be "Comics Stripped." The full-floor exhibition explores the relationship between comics and sex. Whether subversively suggestive ("The Little Mermaid," anyone?) or sexually explicit, the range of pieces should satisfy your lust...for an informative, educational afternoon. Admission is $17.50, but you can get a $3 coupon at the museum's homepage.
The biggest draws here are the trains themselves. You can step inside a car from every era of the New York City subway, from the classy (pictured) to the psychadelic (here). Nearby is the "Steel, Stone & Backbone" exhibit, which chronicles the building of the world's first subway system in the early 1900's. Even if you're not a history buff, it'll do you good next time you're dealing with "scheduled construction" -- you can remind yourself that the MTA wasn't always such a bunch of jackwads.
We know, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is not exactly off the beaten path. But the roof is as far from any path as the Met gets, and this fall it's hosting a new exhibit by sculptor Anthony Caro. Plus, it's much easier to ignore the tourist crowd with spectacular views of the city skyline Central Park. Even if the immense steel pieces aren't your cup of tea, step over to the rooftop martini bar for a cup of something else. And don't forget the best part -- admission to the Met is by suggested donation.