This year’s Museum Mile Festival began with a dance; at the entrance to the Met, a small group of men and women performed a piece that walked a fine line between intrigue and eccentricity. The street’s pristine open space, alongside the crowds of curios onlookers was juxtaposed against the silent performance and the intimate movements of the dancers.
The festival was a complimentary mix of cultural activities and performances from beginning to end. The buzz of conversation that echoed down Fifth Avenue was broken by kids’ art shows, vendors and stands, vocal performances, and more.
In front of the Guggenheim Museum, a performer in a leopard print one-piece suit hula-hooped to the bass of a nearby stereo. Nearby, a magician captivated an audience of onlookers as a volunteer wrapped him in 40 feet of heavy chain, anxiously awaiting his exit strategy. Child-friendly clown acts, singers, and comedians lined the streets to entertain guests, while a Jazz-Age cabaret act performed in front of the Neue Galerie.
Part street fair, part first-class New York City museum experience, the Museum Mile Festival has come a long way in its 38 years. When it first emerged in the 1970s, New Yorkers were far less concerned with museum culture, despite the city’s lively art scene at the time. Today, the Festival remains contained by some of the city’s most visually-stunning architecture and hosted by its world-class institutions, but it’s the crowd that truly captivates.
It’s only fitting that the Museum Miles Festival is a celebration of people, art, and the city’s rich culture. At the height of the festivities, a dynamic mix of language, color, and costume meshed together down Fifth Avenue, exhibiting the spirit of New York City and making a standard museum visit a completely celebratory experience.
By Larryse Brown