The holidays turn New York City into a bright, illuminated wonderland that even the biggest Scrooge among us can enjoy. While there are plenty of events to choose from, like alternative holiday markets and glittering art installations, many of these activities can be jampacked with tourists. For those looking to learn more about their own holiday traditions, or understand others, there are lots of low-key, educational events perfect for history buffs looking for a quieter holiday experience. Ahead, check out 6sqft’s guide to the best holiday events in New York City that come with a historical twist, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.
American Museum of Natural History
Conceptual rendering of the south entrance to the new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals, from the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites. Visitors will be greeted by 9- and 12-foot amethyst geodes. Courtesy of Ralph Appelbaum Associates.
The giant blue whale and equally massive dinos might get all the glory at the American Museum of Natural History, but a new acquisition is bringing another exhibit into the extra-large club. This morning, the institution unveiled a 12-foot-tall, 9,000+ pound amethyst geode from Uruguay (one of the largest in the world) that will anchor its all-new Halls of Gems and Minerals. Ralph Appelbaum Associates is handling the renovation of the 11,000-square-foot space, which is being designed in anticipation of AMNH’s upcoming $340 million expansion by starchitect Jeanne Gang. The Halls previously ended in a cul-de-sac but the new Halls will feature a “stunning Crystalline Pass” to connect to Studio Gang’s 235,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.
Roses and chocolate are nice, but why go the traditional route when the city has so much more to offer for Valentine’s Day. Show your significant other, spouse, or best friend how much they mean to you with one of these ten alternative events that 6sqft rounded up throughout the city. From a wastewater treatment plant tour, to after-hours museum visits, to a romantic evening at the planetarium, these are the perfect ideas for urbanists, historians, and art lovers.
After the architects at Studio Gang tweaked their proposal for the American Museum of Natural History expansion to preserve more public parkland out front, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved the plans in October. And now that things are moving ahead, and the price has jumped from $325 to $340 million, the institution shared new details about how the 235,000-square-foot Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation will operate. The update comes with a fresh set of interior renderings, which include views of the Butterfly Vivarium, Insectarium, and other educational spaces.
After revising its expansion plan last month to preserve more public parkland, the American Museum of Natural History had its day in front of the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday, and as DNAinfo reports, the agency lauded the plan for a new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation, with chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan referring to it as a “stunning piece of architecture” and an “absolutely wonderful addition.” In making their determination, the Commission was presented with a slew of new renderings, which show the $325 million, Jeanne Gang-designed project from various angles, as well as new views of the surrounding parkland.
After first revealing its controversial $325 million expansion almost a year ago, the American Museum of Natural History has now filed plans with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move ahead with the Jeanne Gang-designed project. Though, as the Wall Street Journal reports, there’s been some changes, mainly those responding to the community’s concerns over how much of the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation will encroach on Theodore Roosevelt Park, a city-owned space near the back of the museum at 79th Street.
The new curving Center will occupy one-quarter of an acre of the park, and two historic trees–a 125-year-old English elm and a 75-year-old pin oak tree– will be preserved. Therefore, the public space leading into the museum will have better circulation and more gathering spaces.
One of the many things that makes the American Museum of Natural History so fascinating is its combination of architecture–very different styles from varying time periods that together make up 25 separate structures. The original Victorian Gothic building was erected in 1877, followed and eclipsed quickly by the southern neo-Romanesque stretch. Then, in 1936, the grand Beaux-Arts entrance was added, and in 2000 the famous glass box known as the Rose Center for Earth and Space was built. Now, the museum is growing yet again, reports the Times, this time with a $325 million expansion courtesy of Studio Gang. In addition to its hefty price tag and undulating form, the addition is significant for the fact that it will be the first female-led project associated with the museum structure, as the firm is headed up by starchitect Jeanne Gang.
The Times calls the concept for the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation “both cautious and audacious,” noting that it “consumes less coveted park space than expected, while introducing a contemporary aesthetic that evokes Frank Gehry’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, in its undulating exterior and Turkey’s underground city of Cappadocia in its cavelike interior.” The new 218,00-square-foot Center will help solve circulation issues (it will create more than 30 access points across ten buildings) and will be an integrated space for museum activities and research.
Image via Wendy Perrin
In a city where hundreds of interesting happenings occur each week, it can be hard to pick and choose your way to a fulfilling life. Art Nerd‘s philosophy is a combination of observation, participation, education and of course a party to create the ultimate well-rounded week. Jump ahead for Art Nerd founder Lori Zimmer’s top end of week picks for 6sqft readers!
A weekend of adventure awaits your beckoning call. Choose your own adventure: a cruise on the high seas whilst dressed as a sea monster (or sea siren if that’s your preference), sleep amidst the taxidermy animals at an adult sleepover hosted by the American Museum of Natural History, or get dirty and explore “Old New York” through trash at Dead Horse Bay with Abandoned NYC.
Feeling less adventurous? You can always learn about our ever-changing city at Van Alen’s latest exhibition with the Gentrification Lab NYC, which reconnects the role of architecture with expansion. Try out a different kind of studio visit with dancer and artist Jillian Peña, who will perform her new architecturally-influenced dance and actually take time to explain it to visitors, or check a screening of the Swedish film making waves with its representation of transgender life at Pioneer Works. Enjoy the new José Parlá pieces outdoors at The Standard High Line while sipping cocktails from the garden. Lastly, trek to Times Square late at night as artists Os Gemeos take over the ad screens for Midnight Moment all month long.
New Yorker Spotlight: Carter Emmart Brings Us Aboard His ‘Starship’ at the Museum of Natural History, Fri, March 6, 2015
Here in New York, we think of space is terms of square feet and how little of it we have. But for Carter Emmart, space has an entirely different meaning. In his case, it refers to a space that is harder to quantify and infinitely large.
Carter is the Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History, where he focuses on creating a means to visualize the universe based on what we currently know about it. He is responsible for giving us access to stars, planets, and galaxies through the museum’s space shows in the beautiful Hayden Planetarium–like the currently running Dark Universe, overseeing the development of an interactive 3D atlas known as the Digital Universe, and running educational programs including the Digital Flight School.
We recently spoke with Carter to learn more about his role digitizing the universe and why the American Museum of Natural History can be thought of as a virtual space ship.
New Yorker Spotlight: Paleontologist Mark Norell Spends His Days with Dinosaurs at the Museum of Natural History, Fri, February 27, 2015
Photo © AMNH
While the closest to dinosaurs most of us come is plastic toys and the occasional viewing of Jurassic Park, Mark Norell gets up close and personal with these prehistoric creatures on a daily basis, and it’s fair to say he has one of the most interesting jobs in New York.
As the division chair and curator-in-charge of the American Museum of Natural History’s Division of Paleontology and professor at Richard Gilder Graduate School, Mark’s work is very exciting. He studies not just dinosaurs, but a wide range of fossils from various time periods, and conducts research that benefits our understanding of both the prehistoric and modern world. And an extra perk of the job is surely his office–he occupies the entire top floor of the museum’s historic turret on the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West (we don’t recall Ross Geller getting an office like that!).
We recently spoke with Mark to learn more about paleontology and what it’s like to work at the museum.