It took years to complete, but now Queens can feel deep pride at the newly enlarged and redesigned Queens Museum. I am proud to serve on its board.
It recently reopened to the public and what an opening celebration it was!
Our mayor, who admitted he hadn’t been to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park since visiting the US Open during the summer, came to cut the ribbon to officially reopen the museum, which is now double in size.
The building was built for the 1939 World’s Fair and then reused in the 1964 World’s Fair, also famous for serving as the first home of the United Nations. For the 1964 Worlds Fair Robert Moses had a Panorama built that has a three dimensional model of EVERY building in New York City.
When the fair was over, the building became a museum, sharing space with the skating rink until a new building was created for it. The Panorama has been updated over the years and the Mets even replaced Shea Stadium with a model of Citi Field. We are still waiting for the Yankees to replace their old stadium.
World-class architect Grimshaw, hired after a worldwide competition, designed the now-stunning building, which you can literally see shining with neon lights from the Grand Central Parkway. It sits nestled between the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the Queens Theatre.
From the new front entrance on the service road, you can see through to the Unisphere, which is also illuminated at night.
Entering the new museum is a “WOW” moment. The open atrium with soaring, light-filled space features a majestic lucite staircase leading to the entrance of the Panorama. I stepped onto the glass balcony for a breathtaking view of it.
Additional classrooms have been added on the second floor, as well as offices for the staff. With the extra space available, perhaps other art groups will make their home here.
For me, the jewel of the museum, besides the Panorama, is the Tiffany collection. It now has its own gallery and when I stepped into it, my jaw dropped. I’ve always loved the Tiffany works that were showcased in one cabinet off the elevator in the old building. Now the glorious, colorful, stained glass pieces can truly be appreciated. The warm yellow walls of the new gallery and placement of the many lamps allowed me to get close to them and enjoy their unique beauty. It’s a breathtaking moment and I took a seat on the bench to just take it all in.
Then on Thursday, more than 1,000 invited guests got to be part of the pre-opening cocktail party that was sponsored by Museum Board President Peter Meyer, who is also president of TD Bank.
I salute my fellow board members who worked tirelessly to watch over the project. A large part of the $69 million construction bill was paid for by the city, but we needed to provide additional funds, as the larger facility will need operating dollars to support it.
Hopefully, our great donors, the mayor’s Bloomberg Foundation and the very generous Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, which donated $500,000, will continue to support this world-class art institution in Queens.
Now is the time to visit and enjoy the new works throughout the brilliant building. Bring the kids and have fun in the “drop-in” art room. There is a new gift store, snack bar and opening soon, the first public library in a museum.
So give yourself a gift- visit the museum and you too will go home amazed and impressed. We can all feel so proud!
Peter Meyer, Queens Museum Board President (Photo by Scott Rudd)
Shelley and Donald Rubin, Queens Museum benefactors (Photo by Scott Rudd)
Ninety and nifty
With his children and grandchildren around him, Whitestone resident Dr. Mel Shulman celebrated his 90th birthday with his wife of 65 years, the renowned and respected Claire Shulman, our former borough president.
It was another great gathering of family. Their son Larry is chief of staff at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard. He left for Rwanda the next day to help people there. Mel and Claire’s other child is Ellen Shulman Baker, the renowned astronaut who flew into space three times!
What a family! And as you can expect the next generation is heading to greatness too!
Mel Shulman, with wife Claire, celebrated turning 90 surrounded by his family