Queens home to MOMA

October 31, 2002|By Tom Sabulis | Tom Sabulis,COX NEWS SERVICE

NEW YORK - In name, appearance and address, MOMA QNS hardly looks like the city's newest major art museum.

The ungainly acronym - it resembles a tough draw in Scrabble more than the title of a renowned art repository - stands for the Museum of Modern Art/Queens.

But it represents a whole other world, a convergence of populism and elitism in a blue-collar borough famous for its airports (JFK, LaGuardia), baseball (Mets) and noisy, colorful characters (Archie Bunker, the Ramones).

Indeed, where else but MOMA QNS can you ponder the Picasso milestone Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and, within moments, hit the check-cashing joint next door or grab a grilled cheese at the corner diner?

Housed in a former staple factory in a warehouse district of Long Island City, MOMA QNS is the temporary exhibition headquarters for the Museum of Modern Art while the institution's home on West 53rd Street in Manhattan undergoes an $800 million, three-year expansion.

It joins several other cultural attractions that have turned Long Island City into another New York arts outpost. These include P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, the Museum for African Art, the American Museum of the Moving Image and the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum.

It's a destination experiment that's already begun to pay off for the museum, which bought the one-story blue stucco building to use initially for storage and conservation. Now it's home to masterworks by Calder, Dali, Magritte, Mondrian, Rousseau, van Gogh and others.

Since opening June 29, MOMA QNS has seen "Our Asian and Hispanic visitations ... up dramatically," says director Glenn Lowry, attributing the increase to the diverse populations of New York's outer boroughs who find it easier to reach.

MOMA QNS - some staffers simply call it "Q-N-S" - averaged 2,000 visitors per day over the summer.

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