This past Saturday my Discover New York classmates and I made our way to the Museum of the City of New York in East Harlem. I unsuccessfully took the 7 train which was then stopped at Queens Plaza, forcing me to take the N to then later transfer to an Uptown Bound 6 train to make it to my lovely destination. I arrived around 20 minutes early and waited patiently for the rest of my class and Professor, and when they finally did arrive (along with our lovely tour guide whose name was Erin I believe) we made our way to the third floor.
We took a look at some photographs, courtesy of Mel Rosenthal, before heading over to the Roz Chast exhibit which we were there to explore. The exhibit was fun to walk through, it was all very colorful, lively, and humorous. Bits of Chast’s memoir and another one of her graphic novels stood out to me the most.
Specifically, in her memoir, Chast wrote about her experience when her mother was on her deathbed and how she felt years after both her parents died. There was one page where she was visiting her mother and she explained that she lamented not having been better friends with her. Chast’s mother didn’t seem moved and it was typical of her to do so, but Chast explained she expected her mother to have agreed with her. That page showed me one time that another person’s heart had been broken which you don’t typically encounter in a comic form in a museum.
When our tour was over, I made my way to the second floor and took a look at an exhibit of the beginning of the city of New York. There was one painting I almost walked past that I’m glad I didn’t. I inched closer to this one painting and looked at it absentmindedly before taking a closer look. It was an early draft of the Forest Hills Gardens in Forest Hills, Queens. This particular painting struck me because I had spent the last four years or so constantly visiting and walking through the Gardens. Having gone to Forest Hills High School, the Gardens, Austin Street, and Rego Park become your backyard after your school day is over and it was the first time I had thought about the Gardens in a long time. It was cool to see what the Gardens were intended to look like and then imagine how they actually turned out and what they look like now.
The museum was a fun experience, and there was a great exhibit on movements in the city’s past and present as well. The painting of the Gardens caused me much nostalgia and Chast’s artwork, especially that of her memoir, struck me just as much. I’d gladly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone interested in the history of the greatest city in the world.