New York is one of those places known for many things. One of those things, unsurprisingly, is its infamous museums.
The MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum, Natural History Museum, and more are all names you're bound to recognize. Breathtaking artwork from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Frank Stella, Vincent van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, Andy Warhol, Monet, Mondrian, Rothko, and plenty others are all exhibited there. But New York's incredible display of the arts extends much further than that. Ever hear of a little thing called "Broadway?" Yup. New York has that, too.
On my family's trip to New York, I experienced some of the most amazing artwork and musicals that I've ever seen, and probably ever will see. But how to choose where to explore out of literally hundreds of options?
Both my parents work in the arts (writing, drama, artwork, architecture, etc.), and my brother and I are aspiring in that group, too. With the added support of my dad previously living in New York (a few months per year), we felt like we were going to go into this trip surprise-free. Boy, were we.... surprised.
Turns out, New York is full of hidden gems. I think the number of times we said, "Whoa. This is completely incredible and unexpected," might total around two hundred or so. But that's the great thing about New York. The entire family got a chance to meet the unexpected.
We've picked our favorite museums and musicals to single out among the multitude of others. And believe me - this collection of insanely amazing art will make your breath catch in your throat in wonder.
Musicals: Matilda, the Musical
Okay. This is a musical that I will always remember. Now, I know that everyone probably says that about everything, but it's true. Because this little section might be a bit biased: My school musical is Matilda, the Musical. Therefore, my enthusiasm about this musical was increased by a tenfold, having seen it in person on Broadway and getting to be a part of it (in a way) at my school. But when I tell you that this is an outstanding, knock-your-socks-off musical, you better believe it.
When I showed the trailer for this musical to my parents (see above), they immediately exclaimed, "This is just like 'Pink Floyd's the Wall!'" My brother and I looked at them blankly, so they explained to us what that was. Having seen it now, I understand what they mean. Matilda, the Musical, doesn't have a "creepy" feel to it, or even slightly unnerving. It's just very quirky - some things my parents brought up was the fact that Miss Trunchbull, the antagonist of the musical, is played by a man, or that some of the dance moves are robotic/frankenstein-y, or that part of the story is shown by shadows on a curtain. If you watch the trailer, you'll understand what I mean.
But at the same time, my mind was just filled with wonder. The majority of the Matilda cast are under the age of sixteen. It's pretty impressive, especially since the kids do an amazing job. Even better than a lot of the adult actors, too. The story is one that you'll laugh at, but still feel emotional connections to. And maybe best of all is the music itself: when I tried to think of my favorite songs, I ended up naming every single one. It's fun, expressive, at times humorous, and again, oh-so quirky.
What else can you expect from a musical based off a book written by Roald Dahl?
Musical: Finding Neverland
Whenever I try to write or talk about this musical, I always find myself grasping for the right words. Finding Neverland is a very impactful, complicated musical - reminding me of Andy Warhol’s Electric Chairs, actually. It’s like a terrifying, breathtaking, touching, beautiful, humorous, heart wrenching, tear jerking piece of art.
You’d assume Finding Neverland would be about Peter Pan and Neverland. It isn’t, at all. It’s a completely different side of the story, about the author of Peter Pan and his struggles as a writer. This is what makes this so meaningful, because this musical is not just creative and fun and exciting - it also shows how things can affect you mentally and cause deep pain. The songs, “Circus of Your Mind,” “Live By the Hook,” “Stronger,” and “When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” are all examples of this.
It’s intense. That’s pretty much the only word I can use to describe it.
There are parts that make you jump in your seat out of fright. Parts that prod at tears, and even set them flowing. Parts that make you bounce you knee and enjoy yourself as your imagination takes flight. As we walked back to our hotel after seeing this musical, we were all silent, deep in thought. Our eyes were still moist with tears, too.
You would never imagine the amount of depth and emotion to this musical. The songs show it, the book shows it, the setting - everything. There was also a staggering amount of creativity in this musical, too. Death is portrayed as going off to seek Neverland, for one. And don’t forget the creativity that powered a bucketload of fun, artistic scenes, too. I especially liked, “We Own the Night,” and the slightly swaying, slightly mysterious music and dancing. “Believe,” would also appeal to that artistic side. I loved every last one of the songs. As soon as I got home after watching it, I looked up the lyrics to all the songs and had they memorized as quickly as I could.
If you don’t take my word for it, you’ll have to go see Finding Neverland yourself. It’s truly one of the most amazing, artistic, sentimental, beautiful musicals I’ve ever seen.
Musical: Something Rotten
Something Rotten is one of those musicals that you could watch a thousand times over and never get bored of. It's a comedy, which automatically would appeal to my family. After seeing it, we can testify for it being a hilarious, roll-on-the-floor -with-laughter comedy, too. The story follows a play writer, Nick Bottom, who is constantly living in the shadow of the oh-so popular Shakespeare. He visits a soothsayer to predict the "next big thing" in theatre, and that's where it gets interesting (hint: the soothsayer predicts a few things incorrectly, which brings the humor level up about ten-thousand points).
Every word of this musical was lined with humor, so you couldn't go a second of watching with letting out at least a snort. The songs were whimsical and funny, too - some favorites being The Black Death, A Musical (see above video), God I Hate Shakespeare, It's Hard to be the Bard, and Omelet.
Again, this is like one of those movies that you'll never stop watching, and it still won't get old. Along with being funny, it's clever and creative. Something Rotten melds history with humor, too. One note, however: some of the humor can get a little risque. I was fine, and my brother was right on the edge, so it wasn't an issue for us, whatsoever.
Ugh! This is making me want to go back to New York and see this amazing musical all over again.
Museum: The Whitney
My parents had both been to the Whitney before - however, they had only visited it at its old location, near the Metropolitan Museum of Art). When we discovered an entire new museum was waiting for us to explore, we couldn't have been more thrilled. On our way to the Chelsea Market, we decided to stop by. We were shocked by the incredible display of artwork we saw. This would definitely be the highlight out of all the museums we saw.
The Whitney has a breathtaking blend of contemporary sculptures and paintings, from famous artists like Frank Stella and Alexander Calder. Walking through the galleries, we were all blown away by the absolutely beautiful yet interesting and different display of artwork. Definitely a must-see, for art-lovers and not alike.
Museum: the Museum of Modern Art
The MOMA is another one of those classic New York museums. Filled to the brim with some of the world's most amazing modern art, you could spend hours wandering its halls, gazing at the incredible displays in awe.
What I loved, in particular, about this museum was the educational value in it for my brother and I. My dad, a modern art enthusiast, showed us some of his favorite pieces and explained why they were so new, different and even, "outlandish" for their time. We began to view modern art - and their creators - in a new way. The art was inspiring, fascinating, and, of course, beautiful.
That's what I love about modern art - the incredible display of our generation's finest. And there's no better place than the MOMA to see it.
Museum: the Metropolitan Museum of Art
I've saved the best for last. The Met is probably New York's most infamous museum (at least among kids), largely because of the popular novel The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - about two children that run away from home and hide in the Met, among the world's best artwork. The hype isn't all for nothing; the Met is filled with hundreds of rooms of spellbinding art (the kind of place where you could get lost among so much amazing art and never even notice the passage of time).
Unfortunately, we only browsed through a small section of the museum, and we had hoped to come back another day to see more but never got the chance. What we did see, however, was definitely worth it. It was like our imaginations had burst to life, whether it was dragons or knights or Greek gods or even great, huge boats to sail all across the see (this exhibit was hanging from the ceiling, no less). And don't forget about the classic artists displayed here, too - Picasso being a favorite. I felt like you couldn't walk ten feet without glimpsing one of his magnificent paintings or sculptures.
There's no question about it: the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a must-see. But please - don't make the same mistake we did. Come back more than once. Trust me, you won't regret it.
What I Wish We Had Been To...
Of course, the museums and musicals I've named aren't the only amazing ones in New York. You really can't go wrong, where musicals are concerned, and I feel the same about museums. Here is a list of some places/shows I wish we had had the chance to see, and am putting on my bucket list for next time....
A little bit about us...
We're a family of four (a daughter, a son, and their mother and father.... oh, and a six-month old Standard Poodle puppy). But we all share one thing in common: our love of travel and adventure!
Hotel of the Month
Solage Calistoga: the image of perfection. We stayed here recently on our trip to Napa Valley and couldn't have been more amazed at this stunning resort. The rooms, each one an individual cottage, were immaculate and private. The property itself contained multiple pools and other amenities, all of which were designed beautifully. One of our favorite parts had to be the Michelin-star restaurant, which served some of the best food we'd ever eaten. Solage Calistoga was the perfect fit for our family (and dog!), and we are eager to stay there again.