Monday, May 8, 2023
Morning clouds with afternoon sun. High 77 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner to check.
By Carol Tannenhauser
It was thrilling to attend the opening party at the new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation last week. West Side Rag has written dozens of articles about the conception and somewhat difficult birth of this building, located on the Columbus Avenue side of the American Museum of Natural History. In fact, it is much more than a building, standing like a massive sculpture and a monument to science — but also to human agency and brilliance.
I was the little older woman at the party, wearing appropriate New-York black, walking around with my dear older brother and my eyes wide open. It was a classy affair, and one of the best things about it was the absence of speeches; we were free to roam around and experience the many wonders of the Gilder Center, unattended. There were wonderful people, wearing tags that said, “Explainer,” and they did. Particularly mesmerizing, as I watched through clear plexiglass, were the workings of an enormous ant colony. And the slightly psychedelic Invisible Worlds immersion experience, which you entered through a dark tunnel and knew was special when you stepped across the threshold and your foot created patterns of colored light on the floor. Two lucky little boys were rolling around in the center of the room, seeing what designs they could make with their whole bodies. I might have stayed there all night, exploring the interconnectedness of unseen networks of life on Earth… but then I would have missed the butterflies!
I was so blown away by the spectacle — the live jazz and opera in the background, the passed hors d’oeuvres, the champagne — that I actually forgot to take pictures. Luckily, I bumped into Roberta Semer and Barbara Adler, members of Community Board 7, and Barbara took and shared some wonderful shots. Until you get a chance to go yourself — and you must — here’s a look inside the Gilder Center. (Photos below by Barbara Adler.)
“I told Jeanne [Gang, the architect,] that her building was so alive, so amorphous, that to me it represents science itself,” Barbara Adler said. “Her response was genuine, and so humble, considering that she surely has achieved her place as one of the world’s great architects. She just said, ’I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel.'”
Have a great week!
Any accommodations for those with mobility issues and in wheelchairs? Lovely photos.
For some of us the most important info is whether we can even get in and get around. So many renovations and new venues still don’t accommodate wheelchair bound individuals. It’s as if you think they wouldn’t want to get out and about. Mostly, they can’t. New York city is remarkably inaccessible for a major city.
Nothing is built these days that isn’t ADA compliant.
i volunteer at AMNH and always see people using wheel chairs during my shifts.
there are elevators in the new wing as well – it is very accessible
Oh goody, giant steps for my 76 year old knees to clamber up.
According to the museum’s site: “All of the Museum’s exhibitions are accessible by wheelchair, and all public floors of the Museum can be reached by elevator. Public elevators equipped with Braille signage and auditory signals are located near the Central Park West and 77th Street entrance, the Rose Center entrance, and the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation entrance. Service animals are welcome to visit the Museum. Strollers are welcome throughout the Museum.”
There are shallow steps next to the deep steps, and the shallow may also have an auxiliary function: to enter and exit the deep steps so they can be used as seats for young and old to rest or to attend a lecture or performance or even to await the arrival of their school buses when weather is inclement?
The Gilder Center is gorgeous inside and out! I hope the vocal minority of NIMBYs who opposed the expansion recuse themselves from attending.
UWS Dad, maybe hold back on the negativity and give people a chance to react to the building first? (Also, I don’t understand how it was ever a NIMBY issue. More of a “Leave my beloved landmarks and green space alone” issue.)
I wasn’t a vocal opponent of the addition, but I wasn’t crazy about the plan, either. However, I think that new wing looks pretty awesome and I can’t wait to visit. People are allowed to change their minds.
I’m referring primarily to the vocal opponents – the new wing is a fantastic addition to the neighborhood and demonstrates that if we let loud minorities veto any change we could lose out on the next great thing.
Fact is, the only 200-year-old tree that was cut down in Theodore Roosevelt Park was diseased and a looming danger. Now the park has MORE trees and MORE benches, thanks to the far-reaching landscaping of the Gilder Center’s grounds.
Can’t wait! Hope to go in the next week or so before school lets out for the summer. And I fully intend to roll around on the floor 🙂
I was there on opening day. It is a really big building with a lot of empty space. They may have gone a little overboard with the great architecture . A museum of natural history can have great architecture, but the emphasis has to be on nature.
I’m excited to finally get in too! I know child-me would have made more poor mom spend hours watching the ants. Sounds like a great party, and Carol deserves some fancy nibbles and champagne for all the great WSR reporting she does