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Queens Chronicle

Queens Museum is back and better than ever

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:44 am, Thu Nov 7, 2013.

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is full of borough staples including the Hall of Science, the Unisphere and the Queens Zoo. But while much of the park hasn’t seen an update in many years, the Queens Museum, however, is coming out with the big guns.

The museum that has been described as struggling or fighting to stay alive has completed a massive remodeling and expansion. Museum representatives are saying that this redesign is in no way a last resort to save the Queens Museum.

“This project cost tens of millions of dollars,” said Diya Vij, communications and digital media manager of the museum. “If we were struggling I don’t think we’d be able to pay for such a drastic remodeling.”

The new space offers audiences a longer, more satisfying visit than what was available.

By taking over the neighboring skating rink, the museum doubled in size, creating space for a cafe, several new galleries, studio space for artists, classrooms and, most notably, a Queens Library branch.

But with all of these new features, the Queens Museum is not looking to become the next MoMA or Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Queens Museum wants to attract visitors from other areas while maintaining its reputation as a community museum.

That is why each exhibition features work done by artists who are from or who work in Queens.

“There has been a blossoming of art in Queens so we felt it important that we honor it, especially for our big opening,” Museum Director Tom Finklepearl said.

One of the more notable collections is Peter Schumann’s “The Shatterer,” the first solo museum exhibition of the Bread and Puppet Theater founder and director.

The recognizable 20-foot-high puppets marched in protests and demonstrations throughout the years. This new collection consists of two impressive large-scale installations which combine painting, drawing, papier-mache sculpture and handmade books.

Upon entering the modernized space, one might think Schumann’s work resembles a middle-school art room gone awry, but by taking a closer look you see the intricate brush strokes and paper cutouts that create a sense of creepiness that fascinates and entices.

To coincide with the Queens Museum’s opening, there will be special events and celebrations throughout November.

The opening weekend will include blessings made by various cultures, a community pilgrimage from Corona Plaza — which the museum helped recreate — and folkloric dance groups and bands.

“We really want to celebrate what makes this borough and this museum so unique and we wanted to do something big which led to the idea of a month-long celebration so that the public can be reintroduced to the museum,” Vij said.

With all of these new exhibits and a lobby that is just as sleek and sophisticated as the museums in Manhattan, the Queens Museum has not lost its roots.

The New York City Panorama — a 9,335-square-foot model of the city built to scale for the 1964 World’s Fair — and the museum’s collection of Tiffany glass remain, as well as the newly unveiled “From Watersheds to Faucets: The Marvel of New York City’s Water Supply System,” which has not been on display in Queens since the 1939 World’s Fair.

Queens Museum Opening Weekend

When: Nov. 9 and 10, noon to 6 p.m.

Where: Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park near the Unisphere

Tickets: $8 suggested donation for adults, $4 for seniors, children and students

(718) 592-9700

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