This was my first visit, and I'm so happy I finally went. Initially, I was going because the museum is open till 10 PM on Thursdays and there's a DJ, and it just sounded like fun. But then I went to the top floor with the intention of working my way down, and I really fell in love with all that I saw. "Disguise: Masks and Global African Art" was a whole fascinating world unto itself. The diptych collages of William Villalongo were one of the many highlights. And the masks were just…astonishing.
There's also a floor filled with period rooms, or in some cases what feels like a huge chunk of house that's been carved open so that you can look inside. Sometimes there are little glass nooks that you can stand in to get a closer view, or you can actually walk into the house and go right up to the stairs that lead to where the family sleeps. It really does feel as though you're there in someone's home from another century, transported through time. A Southern plantation, a Manhattan drawing room, a farm house from the 1700s. And each one lit as if by candle or firelight, the dimness and shadows making the vignettes that much more vivid and cozy and real. I really couldn't get enough.
And then there's something called visible storage. The name alone is irresistible. Imagine opening a pair of heavy glass doors to enter a chilled room filled with archived works of art, furniture pieces, sculptures, and artifacts. Like a big meat cooler of art history. The sculptures were strangely compelling, disparate figures sitting cheek by jowl with each other, a silent party where the guests hailed from different eras and regions. There were paintings in cages and whole cases filled with mouth-watering midcentury furniture like the vintage shop of your dreams. Walking through this curious room, it was impossible not to sense anticipation, like a population of inanimate objects were patiently waiting for their turn.
When I finally made it down to the ground floor, the DJ had begun her set. The music was so good, but since the crowd was still thin—it was early yet—most people hung out shyly at the edges of the designated dancing area. There was a small group who danced like they were in their living room, though. So easy and happy. And when the lighting changed to nightclub hues, more people joined them.