Czech Center New York

Edification value
Entertainment value
Should you go?
Time spent 22 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Martynka Wawrzyniak slowly, slowly drowning in chocolate in a video that I didn’t really like per se but that I couldn’t look away from.  Definitely doused my craving for Ghiradelli for at least a few days.

The Czech Center’s museum space is small but effective, and it comes associated with three things that no cultural institution I’ve seen thus far can match:

  • A really awesome, dramatically red spiral staircase that goes from the ground floor up into the center of the gallery.

  • An amazing, landmark, 1890s-era building, the Bohemian National Hall.  I always thought the center of Czech culture in New York City was the Bohemian Beer Garden in Astoria, but lo and behold, this place was the heart of the community for almost 100 years.  It’s now home to the Czech Consulate, an investment office, the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation, the gallery, a film space, and my third point:
  • A good-looking bar and restaurant on the ground floor.  I was a bit too early to stop in for a drink but I wanted to.  $5 for a small Pilsner Urquell! 

Collectively, these things plus brochures to help you plan your next visit to Prague make a good case for visiting the Bohemian Hall, even if the exhibit doesn’t happen to be the most enlightening.

Normally I’d take this as a good sign…

The show on now, “Baby I Like it Raw, Post Eastern-Bloc Photography and Video,” wasn’t so great.  Photos (and a few videos), mainly of wasted (in several senses of the word) young people behaving badly, that were technically mediocre, like bad party snapshots gathered and put on the walls.  The overall effect was of an earnest attempt to shock by youth in rebellion. It might even BE shocking (seven penises!  my stars!) other places.  But in New York, it just seemed like kids trying way too hard.

Naughty pictures hopefully too small to be offensive

Still, for an awesome if small gallery space, the best spiral staircase I’ve seen in ages, plus all the other Boheman things you can do there–even including some nice sausages and a pilsner–I’d say it’s well worth a visit sometime.

For Reference:

Address 321 E 73rd Street, Manhattan
Website Czech Center New York
Cost Free
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