The Museum is open again now, and I walked up there yesterday, a four mile walk! Which reminds me. We’re supposed to walk 10,000 steps a day. That is roughly five miles. Who is actually walking that much every day? That’s a lot.
Much of the museum was closed off, but there was still plenty to see. It still amazes me how much I’ve come to love all the decorative arts wings. I used to be all about the paintings. Then photography. Photography seemed so much more alive. But now paintings feel living and breathing to me again. But when I walk through a decorative arts wing I’m all, “I want that. And this. And this.” I fantasize about finding something as beautiful in a second hand store somewhere remote.
Yesterday my favorite wing was 19th Century Sculpture and Decorative Arts 1850 – 1890. Did you know Sarah Bernhardt was a sculptor?? I didn’t. And a gifted sculptor. She made this of her husband after he died. (More below.)
Everyone’s favorite intense/grumpy composer. This is James von Stuck’s combination sculpture and painting of Beethoven, “modeled after his purported death-mask.” It seems so modern, but it’s dated 1900-1902.
There’s a new park at Pier 26, (along the West Side highway, between Hubert and No. Moore). My favorite parts are the deck chairs, lounge chairs, and swings, like the kind of swings they have on porches, that are placed along the pier. It’s like sitting on the deck of a boat. If I lived near here I’d take a book and curl up to read in one of these chairs.
To those drawn to the stories of New York’s past, you might like a Gotham Center for New York History podcast series that I participated in: Lost New York. I talk about Blackwell’s Island, (what Roosevelt Island was called in the 19th century) when it was the home of the city’s Lunatic Asylum and other institutions..
A “dark cell,” pictured below, was the name for solitary confinement back then. Cells for solitary were not only used in the prisons on Blackwell’s Island, but also in the Lunatic Asylum. This is one of the things I talk about, but there is a great line-up of speakers in this series, all worth listening to!
The picture after that is of a device called a crib. Some patients at the Lunatic Asylum were locked down in them at night. Dr. Edward C. Spitzka, a noted neurologist at the time, described how, “An excitable person will squirm in it like a squirrel.”
Halloween decorations have started to appear in the West Village. The parade has been cancelled this year, but I think people can trick or treat. It could be done relatively safely, couldn’t it? We shall see. I won’t be able to resist going out to walk around and see. Social distancing will be difficult but at least everyone will be wearing masks!