Museum Mania: Special Exhibitions of NYC

As one of the greatest cultural centers in the world, New York City has an extensive amount of museums. From The Metropolitan Museum of Art with expansive European paintings to the American Museum of Natural History popularized by films like Night at the Museum and various smaller and subject -specific museums, New York has got it all. One of the greatest perks about these

renowned museums is that they frequently offer new and exciting special exhibits.

The special exhibit, “Guitar Heroes” which opened in February at the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcases some of the greatest craftsmanship of stringed instruments. From masterpieces of Northern Italy in the 16th century to New York legends, the exhibit offers not only acoustic and electric guitars but less conventional instruments like violas and mandolins.

The Tieffenbrucker family was one of the most prominent crafters and known throughout Europe for their highly decorative style. Other works include archtop guitars and mandolins from John D’Angelico who learned craftsmanship from his father who emigrated from Naples to the Lower East Side of New York.

One of the most decorous instruments in the gallery is the blue archtop guitar by Brooklynite musician, James D’Aquisto. Don’t forget to view some of John Monteleone’s models of acoustic guitars, which gain respect in both aesthetic and sound quality of the guitars.  

If you’ve seen all of the Rembrandts and Vermeers in the European paintings and are looking for a new twist, head to the “Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th century” exhibit on the second floor. This special exhibit which opened on April 5 focuses on the symbolic meaning of unfulfilled longing hidden behind the open window.

Focusing on the Romantic period with paintings and drawings from German, Danish, French and Russian artists, the exhibit offers a refreshing experience from the pretentious permanent European galleries. The paintings include sketched interiors of European homes and artists’ studios while offering breathtaking outdoor views of European cities, castles, and rivers. “The View of Pillnitz Castle” by Norwegian artist Johan Christian Dahl is a painting of a modest open window with a breathtaking view of the landscape and castle during dusk under a multi-colored sky. German artist, Adolph Menzel offers a distinctive touch to the simple paintings in this special exhibit. Especially in “The Artist’s Sitting Room in Ritterstrasse,” he delves into the darkened light with heavy and thick brushstrokes leaving a solemn impression on the viewer.

The American Museum of Natural History located near Central Park West offers a great experience for everyone. With the varied amount of artifacts from dinosaurs to butterflies to subject matters from anthropology to astronomy, everyone can find something to entertain them at this museum. “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs” which opened on April 16 offer the viewers a complete understanding of these extinct creatures. With a life sized fleshed model Mamenchisaurus, the exhibit has gained an assortment of media attention.

The Daily News commented that “small children can ooooh at the massive, 60-foot Mamenchisaurus and play at excavating fossils while their elders can aaaah at the wonders of dinosaur biology.” Viewers can see the heart rate, metabolism and respiration function of the dinosaur at the museum while each function is clearly explained through interactive technology.

“Brain: The Inside Story” is another exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History which opened last November. The special exhibit features the newest discoveries in the field of

neuroscience accompanied by studies to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The interactive exhibit has a three-pound preserved brain and viewers can walk along a tunnel of firing neurons to visualize the brain’s function. The exhibit also offers brain scan images, visuals in understanding the different functions of the brain, and a six-foot human figure showing the brain’s involvement with different sensations in various parts of the body. There is also a glowing eight-foot-tall subcortical brain model that shows how the brain processes language, memory and decision making.

For an interesting twist, visit the National Museum of the American Indian located next to Battery Park. The museum is a branch of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. that offers various artwork, artifacts and resources from native cultures across America. “A Song for the Horse Nation,” on exhibit until July 7 features the influence of horses on American Indian tribes since the 1600s. The exhibit includes decorative horse masks, coats, beaded bags and leggings with various horse designs, photographs of various tribes showing the history and function of horses, and an interactive guide which teaches the history of Native American tribes and their assimilation with Europeans on the new continent. This exhibit shows how horses influenced the social, cultural and spiritual lives of American Indians.

Take a break from studying for finals and writing papers and take a trip to Manhattan to visit these special exhibits. These museums offer various opportunities for students to discover new and fascinating objects. A few hours in a gallery may lead to thought-provoking discussions, unique interests and an appreciation of the world beyond the gates of St. John’s University.