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City Officials Give the New Museum's Carsten Höller Show the Green Light
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Since the New Museum's Carsten Höller "Experience" exhibition opened last Wednesday, city agencies have been investigating three of the show's installations: a 100-foot tube slide, a mirrored carousel and a saline sensory deprivation pool.
On Tuesday, city officials gave the green light to the installations.
When the show opened last week, the museum had not received approvals for the slide or for the carousel. The city's Department of Consumer Affairs (D.C.A.) requires buildings or museums with large components like slides, swings or rides on their premises to acquire Temporary Amusement Device licenses. The Department of Buildings conducts inspections of such components for the D.C.A.
After the museum was told of the licensing rule, it submitted its application. The city's Department of Buildings inspected the slide and carousel on Tuesday.
"Our elevator unit inspected it today and it passed inspection," said Jennifer Gilbert, spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings.
Abigail Lootens, a spokeswoman for the Department of Consumer Affairs, said there had not been another museum in recent memory that had applied for, or was required to get, a Temporary Amusement Device license.
City officials had also taken issue with a work in the Höller show called "Giant Psycho Tank," a pool which museum visitors are encouraged to participate in by disrobing and floating nude in the pool.
Last Friday, the New York City Health Department said it had contacted New Museum administrators and advised them that the pool required approval and a permit to comply with the city's Health Code. The museum said it had subsequently spoken with the Health Department and that it had decided to limit attendance to the pool to one person at a time, which is permitted by code.
"This change does not alter the physical experience of floating in the tank's salinated water, nor does it change the sculpture's intent, which is about the physical sensation rather than group interaction," said Gabriel Einsohn, the Communications Director for the New Museum.
Despite the controversy around the show, Einsohn said that "Experience" had been breaking museum attendance records, bringing in twice as many visitors each day to the museum as compared with other shows.
Here's the carousel in question, courtesy of WNYC Arts Critic Carolina Miranda:
And the 100-foot slide: