FDNY Fire Zone

 

Edification value  2/5
Entertainment value  2/5
Should you go?  *
Time spent 77 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned
FDNY Fire Zone
Keep Back 200 Feet

These toddler-sized fire-engine-red longjohns, with “keep back 200 ft.” on the rear.  Sound advice!

FDNY Fire ZoneTucked into Rockefeller Center, the Fire Department maintains a small kid-oriented presence called the FDNY Fire Zone.  The Fire Zone consists of a modest-sized space with all sorts of fire equipment lining one wall, an old fire truck (at least, the cab of it and a slice of the back part), huge numbers of patches, given or traded from fire departments the world over, and a gift shop about the same size as the exhibit space.

The Fire Zone offers occasional fire safety demos (for a fee), and it is staffed by a guy running the shop and a fire fighter who is happy to answer questions about the items on display.  I got to talking with him about the communications gear in the truck (very outdated according to him) and the pros and cons of GPS, which the Fire Department does not use.

FDNY Fire Zone

Where’s the Fire?

My grown-up reaction to the Fire Zone was disappointment.  I wrote it off, and was ready to move on to other things in five minutes.  But the group of three kids I borrowed for the visit loved it.  Gear to look at.  Heavy fire jackets to try on. A fire truck they can get inside and pretend to drive?  Best. Thing. Ever.  They would’ve stayed there all day, maybe.  We grown-ups talked about museums and joined in the kids’ intense pretending periodically.

FDNY Fire Zone

Therefore I’ve asterisked my “Should You Go?” rating for this place. Any grown-up not in need of any Fire Department-branded gifts can skip this place.  At least one of the visitors while I was there worked as a fire fighter and seemed to enjoy talking shop with the FDNY officer on duty.  So amend that: fire fighters might derive value out of a visit.

FDNY Fire ZoneHowever, if you have kids roughly 4-8 years old, the story differs dramatically.  In that case the Fire Zone merits 4 Met buttons for visitability.  For anyone with young kids interested in firefighters or fire trucks (and what young kid isn’t?), this place will seem ultra-cool, with a whole truck to play in and around.  It’s a rare free, indoor play space. While it is somewhat commercial (there’s that gift shop after all), it’s not nearly as commercial as say the other kid-friendly indoor spots near Rockefeller Center, the Nintendo or Lego stores.

For any grown ups interested in fire departments and fire fighting, I strongly recommend the Fire Museum in SoHo, but you can safely stay out of the Zone.

FDNY Fire Zone

For Reference:

Address 34 West 51st Street, Manhattan
Website fdnysmart.org/firezone
Cost  General Admission:  Free.  Fire Safety Demo $6

 

Museum of Modern Art

Edification value  
Entertainment value  
Should you go?  
Time spent 221 minutes (3 hours, 41 minutes)
Best thing I saw or learned It’s nigh impossible to pick a “best” at MoMA. But I feel a special love for Mark Rothko’s melancholy, soothing No. 16 (Red, Brown, and Black) from 1958.

Museum of Modern Art, New York

The walls at the Museum of Modern Art don’t meet the floors. It’s a minuscule  detail. I feel certain many visitors don’t even consciously notice it. I’m not sure why the architect did that. But think about the words that describe the collection:  “groundbreaking,” “earth-shattering.”  I like to think they decided MoMA’s treasures are too wonderful to touch something as mundane as a floor. So the art, and the walls on which the art is hung, don’t.

More mundanely, I also wonder whether (and how) they dust all those wall-floor cracks. Continue reading “Museum of Modern Art”

Museum of Sex

Edification value  
Entertainment value  4/5
Should you go?  2/5
Time spent 73 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned A wall text in the animals exhibit about a Dutch biologist who wrote a paper on gay necrophilia in mallard ducks.  Those Dutch biologists, man…

Museum of Sex, New York

Museum of Sex, New YorkWhat can I say about the Museum of Sex?  It’s fun.  The gift shop is hysterical — if you’re at all prone to blushing, it will make you blush.  It’s immensely positive, and in a weird sort of way, innocent, maybe even willfully naive about its topic.

The Museum of Sex (MoSex for short) opened in 2002 and is, according to its website, “one of the most dynamic and innovative institutions in the world.”  Ok then. Its collection includes some 20,000 pieces, including both art and artifacts, only a small fraction of which are on display at any given time across the four floors of exhibitionist galleries in its space a few blocks south of the Empire State Building. Continue reading “Museum of Sex”

Mossman Lock Collection

Edification value  4/5
Entertainment value  3/5
Should you go?  3/5
Time spent 54 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned These two magnetic locks, made by James Sargent of Rochester, New York, in 1865 and 1866 respectively.

Mossman Lock Collection

Located in Case 7, they epitomize the combination of technical innovation (making combination locks much harder to crack) with aesthetics that characterizes Mr. Mossman’s collection.

For anyone who cares for such queer things, New York offers the gift of numerous institutions devoted to esoteric and hermetic topics. Coins, Tattoos, and Maritime Industry all get their due, as well as obscure people like Antonio Meucci, the would-be inventor of the telephone and Nicholas Roerich, a visionary Russian mystic painter. But I’d argue that New York’s most esoteric and hermetic museum is the Mossman Lock Collection, at the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen.

General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, New York Continue reading “Mossman Lock Collection”