Queens Museum Gets Very Real With Homeless Art

Friday, February 07, 2014

Performance by the LAPD, or the Los Angeles Poverty Department, at the Queens Museum (Deborah Solomon)

A gallery at the Queens Museum is stocked with 22 bunk beds. That's where the audience sits, for a performance by formerly homeless people about their experiences in jail.

The project is by the LAPD โ€” the Los Angeles Poverty Department. WNYC's art critic Deborah Solomon says the piece represents the height of activist art โ€” and the polar opposite of Manhattan museums' goal of attracting tourists.

In this interview, Solomon explained that while the Queens Museum is trying to serve its local community with pieces like the LAPD's, the Museum of Modern Art is going in a very different direction. "Museums are supposed to do two things: One is preserve objects, and the other is engage the community," she said. "A museum like MoMA is no longer engaging the community; it's just engaging construction companies, to put up more space."


Deborah Solomon

Hosted by:

Soterios Johnson


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Comments [8]

Anne Sherman from Brooklyn

Dear Deborah Solomon: I was very interested to hear your conversation with Satirius Johnson last month, since my 2014 resolution is 12 months, 12 museums for our family, and Queens Museum was our January stop! My 7 year old daughter chose it because she had been there on a school trip and loved the Panorama.

I agreed with everything you said (although we were there before this particular installation). What was uniquely great about our visit was that there were these actors walking around doing a dress rehearsal for an upcoming performance. So we were looking at the Panorama and this woman bursts into a monologue! It turns out she was with a group called "Theatre 167" and they were doing a dress rehearsal. It was great. The whole thing was great! I look forward to going back. (Although house rules mandate that we attend 12 DIFFERENT museums, so it may take a while).

Mar. 05 2014 09:10 PM
Barbara Pryor

Deborah, you're correct, and there is also Corona, the Rockaways, and other neighborhoods. If you contact me at with your contact info, we'll keep you informed.

Feb. 07 2014 01:09 PM
Deborah Solomon from WNYC

To Barbara Pryor -- Thanks for your gracious comments. By the way, do you know which neighborhoods in Queens have the heaviest concentration of artists? It used to be (I think) Long Island City and Astoria, but I hear that lately there has been a lot of spillover out of Bushwick and into Ridgewood.

Feb. 07 2014 12:50 PM
Barbara Pryor

Deborah, thanks for crossing the river to our fabulous QMA! Queens is full of art and artists, so as Board president of Queens Council on the Arts, I invite you to return soon.

Feb. 07 2014 12:30 PM
Deborah Solomon from WNYC

To Tom Finkelpearl -- Hey, Thanks for defending me in your comment, not to mention for doing such a swell job at the Queens Museum. Loved visiting you on Sunday. Let's do it again soon. D.

Feb. 07 2014 10:30 AM
Tom Finkelpearl from Queens

Paul -- You are correct of course about the date of the Unisphere. But in her report Deborah is referring to the fact that the Queens Museum has a collection of relics from the World's Fairs (both 1939-40 and 1964-65), and that people should come see that exhibit as well as the Unisphere which is in the museum's front yard.

Feb. 07 2014 09:37 AM
elisabeth from Lower East Side

The Queens museum is a wonderful place to go to. Since getting introduced to it about 10 years ago through a fantastic exhibit/installation "Queens Blvd" by Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer (Brian's brother), I have been sending New York and tourist friends alike to the museum exhibits, their thoughtful community programs and the impressive panorama. I look forward to experiencing the LAPD performance. Thank you, Deborah Solomon, for pointing WNYC listeners to the Queens Museum!

Feb. 07 2014 07:59 AM
Paul Basista from Brooklyn

Deborah, the unisphere is a relic of the 1964 World's Fair, not the 1939-1940.

Feb. 07 2014 07:48 AM

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