Two of New York’s finest art institutions, MoMA PS1 and SculptureCenter, are just a 10-minute jaunt by car from theRoosevelt Island apartment rentals at Manhattan Park, and walking distance from each other. PS1, a contemporary art subsidiary of the Museum of Modern Art, has electrified its area of Long Island City just north of the Kosciuszko Bridge for the last 40 years. Situated in a former public school, the institution is a non-collecting museum, meaning its resources are fully devoted to exhibiting the most groundbreaking contemporary art in the world rather than displaying a particular collection.
In addition to internationally renowned surveys like the popular Greater New York show—which is hosted every five years and dedicated to taking the city’s artistic pulse—and exhibitions of such luminaries as Mike Kelley and Maya Deren, MOMA PS1 presents artistic and musical performances that take place throughout its imposing brick building and often flow into its concrete courtyard (which is currently occupied by a show venue in the shape of a geodesic dome). Summer Saturdays at PS1 bring with them the communal music and dance party known as Warm Up, also held in the courtyard within a structure created by the winners of an annual architecture prize. This year’s winners are the young Mexican duo Escobedo Soliz, who proposed creating a shade structure across the ample, pebble-filled space using crisscrossed cables.
To continue your Long Island City art afternoon, stroll down Jackson Avenue for about seven minutes to the ultra-hip SculptureCenter. Also a non-collecting museum, SculptureCenter has been a cornerstone of the cultural scene in the city since its inception in 1928 as the “Clay Club.” Originally conceived as a public extension of the studio of its founder artist Dorothea Denslow and rebranded by Denslow in 1944, SculptureCenter moved to its current space in 2001. Located in the remnants of a former trolley repair shop, with the shop’s pulleys and iron levers still hanging from the towering ceilings of the interior, SculptureCenter hosts exhibitions by promising young artists, some of whom later have shows at more august institutions in the city. Recently minted stars who have shown at SculptureCenter in the past include Michele Abeles, Rachel Rose, and Korakrit Arunanondchai. Openings for SculptureCenter exhibitions often spill into the narrow, stone-lined plaza directly in front of the space.
For a snack or a drink after all that art-going, meander over to the nearby Sage General Store for some comfort food in a country store setting as well as excellent classic cocktails like mint juleps and Tennessee mules. Or return to MoMA PS1 to try a highly unique museum lunch spot. Set in a renovated classroom, M. Wells Dinette serves up innovative sandwiches and a diverse selection of beverages. The day’s menu is posted on a green chalkboard, and a lined notebook is set out at every communal, cafeteria-like table so you can doodle while you dine, or even pen a poem to a favorite teacher.