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Queens Museum of Art Discounted Membership at Groupon

July 8th, 2011 · No Comments · Arts

To my fiance Lisa’s chagrin, I have recently become obsessed with everything having to do with the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs in New York. Lisa lives in Flushing, NY. Before it became a mecca for Asian food and hapless baseball teams (sorry Mets fans), it was the center of the world.

In a way, the World’s Fairs of New York are markers in time for sweeping changes to the culture of the United States. Just think about what the United States looked like prior to and after 1939, and prior to and after 1964.

There are a couple things I’ve learned about the New York World’s Fairs. In the book “The Great Gatsby”, the narrator talks about driving through “ash heaps”–it turns out that was what Parks Commissioner Robert Moses cleared to build the 1939 World’s Fair. Today, we take things like sushi and belgian waffles for granted. But back in 1964, these were exotic food items that no one had seen before. In 1964, there was no Internet, no cell phones, no personal computers, and not even a 10 cent long distance phone call.  So the World’s Fair was the first look many people got at other cultures and new technology.

In many ways, I wish I could go back and experience that time. It was a time of unbridled optimism. If you’ve been to EPCOT Center and Disney World and look at exhibits like It’s a Small World and Carousel of Progress, you probably don’t realize that these animatronic exhibits were first constructed for the 1964 World’s Fair.

Today, when you to go to the site of the old World’s Fairs, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, it’s a beautiful city park. Lisa and I go biking through it, watch the occasional pickup soccer game, and eat empanadas from the carts. There are a few reminders of the glory that was once there: the huge Unisphere in the middle of the park constructed by US Steel back when steel was in its heyday, the abandoned New York State Pavillion whose once-glorious observation towers sit rusty and decrepit. The helipad has been turned into a banquet facility which is closed to the public.

There are two buildings which remained open and maintained. The Hall of Science was one of the first “see and touch” science museums in the world, and is still going strong today.

The other building, the New York State Building, was changed into the Queens Museum of Art. The piece de resistance of the museum is its huge scale model of the five boroughs of New York City, originally built for the World’s Fair and since impeccably preserved. If you’re from the City, it’s fun to walk above and beside the model on the glass floor and look for where you live. If you’re from outside New York, it’s fun to explore the whole city from inside one room.

panoramic model of new york

Other highlights of the museum include great displays of artifacts from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs. Here, I was like a kid in a candy store. I couldn’t get enough.

memoribilia from 1939 world's fair

Something else the Queens Museum of Art had was a large collection of Tiffany Lamps and Tiffany Glass (something I never knew before was that Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany Glass fame was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who started the Tiffany & Co. jewelry shop and use progeny I just gave a lot of my life savings to!)

tiffany lamp

Okay, now that you’ve heard all my raving and pontificating about the museum, here’s the deal. For a limited time, you can go to Groupon and purchase a $50 membership for only $20. That’s admission for your whole family for one whole year, which means this will just about pay for itself by your first visit (normal admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids). When you consider that you also get four free passes (value of $20) and a 10% discount at the museum, you’ll be making money on the deal! If you’re a fellow enthusiast of the World’s Fairs, the museum shop does have great memorabilia and souvenirs from the World’s Fairs (not from the museum’s collection, these were donated by other collectors). And if that weren’t enough, you can get $10 the purchase of a “deed” to your favorite building in the famous Panorama.

The Groupon Deal lasts only a few days, but if you’re reading this after the deal is over, even a regular priced membership is a great tax-deductible deal which will help a great museum as it expands for the future.


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