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A Gem of a Museum in NYC: It is MAD


Most visitors to New York City visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Modern Art. Fewer people visit the Museum of Art and Design, better known as MAD. In failing to notice, visitors miss one of the best museums in the city.

A small exhibit at MAD during March 2015 might suggest a bit of madness.

It featured unique decoration on shoes.

Most visitors to New York City visit the Metropolitan Museum of New York (MET) on Fifth Avenue at 82nd plus the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) on 53rd between Fifth and Sixth avenues. Many fewer venture into the Museum of Art and Design, known as MAD, located on Columbus Circle at 59th. And, in failing to notice it, visitors miss one of the best museums in NYC. This is why.

MAD is manageable. It is smaller than either the MET or MOMA. This means a visitor feels she has seen everything when she leaves. This gives her a feeling of satisfaction.

MAD Museum

A hand embroidery made of cotton, rayon, and wool by Ciudad Frondosa, 2011-2012. It was part of the New Territories exhibit at MAD in March, 2015. For the exhibit, specific cities in South America were positioned as laboratories for collaboration and conversations plus production and experimentation regarding crafts design and art.

Floors 2, 4, and 5 of MAD were devoted to this work in March 2015.

MAD is meaty. The exhibits are intellectually interesting. They aren’t about past great art or modern art. They are about art people can understand and to which they can easily link their own experience and emotion.

MAD Museum

A photorealistic oil on canvas by Richard Estes, 1987. The Hotel Empire is in the foreground and Lincoln Center in the background to the right.

Floor 3 of MAD was devoted to his work in March 2015.

MAD is for the many who like to combine shopping and good food with art viewing. There are both not only within the museum but also across the street on either side.

The restaurant in the museum, Roberts, is on its top floor with a spectacular view. The museum gift shop is on its ground floor. It is either the finest in the city or one of the best. It carries unique items, many of them well priced.

MAD Museum

MAD is on Columbus Circle. The man himself, Columbus, is elevated above the center of the circle, here illuminated by the sun against the shadow on the background building.

MAD Museum

The Columbus Circle shopping center with restaurants is west from MAD just across the street toward the Hudson River. It is in the Time Warner Center above that shell corporations (mostly foreign) are said to be buying high end real estate.

MAD Museum

On the other side of MAD toward the East River and just across the street is Maison Kayser. It is probably the best bet for good food at a more modest price (for NYC). Though it is a pastry shop, it sells meals as well.

Roberts is the restaurant at the top of MAD. The view there is spectacular and a must visit, even if not to eat or drink. It is my personal feeling that the food is better at Maison Kayser.

MAD was originally the Museum of Contemporary Crafts which opened in 1956. In 2008, it moved to its present location and modified its name to the Museum of Art and Design which was cleverly shortened to MAD. The museum encompasses location, stimulating exhibits, and good food plus shopping nearby. For me, it should be on every NYC visitor’s list, but for now it remains our secret.

All photos by the author.

For More:

A Day Trip from NYC: Van Cortlandt House Museum

A Day Trip from NYC: Greek Revival Mansion

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