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Museum Mile Festival Turns Fifth Ave Into Giant Block Party

By Amy Zimmer | June 11, 2012 5:22pm
Kids of all ages and sizes get in on the fun.
Kids of all ages and sizes get in on the fun.
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DNAinfo/ Flickr Mud Boy

MANHATTAN — Art will spill out of 10 of the city's most illustrious cultural institutions and onto Fifth Avenue Tuesday evening for the 34th annual Museum Mile Festival, rain or shine.

Not only will participating museums open their doors free of charge — from the Metropolitan Museum of Art at East 82nd Street up to El Museo del Barrio at East 105th Street — this iconic mile-long stretch of Fifth Avenue will be closed to traffic and become what's billed as the city's "biggest block party" from 6 to 9 p.m., organizers said.

Jazz bands, Broadway crooners and string quartets will be performing in front of several of the institutions, including pianist David Kaplan in front of the Neue Galerie, the experimental rock band People's Champs in front of the Guggenheim and the Quarteto Rodriguez Cuban Jewish All Starts at the Jewish Museum.

Street entertainers and outdoor art activities for children will be sprinkled throughout. In front of the National Academy Museum & School, there will be figure drawing with a live model and chalk drawing. At the Museum of the City of New York, children will be invited to help fill in a giant chalk outline of Manhattan's street grid based on the museum's show, "The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811- 2011."

"Art making is a fantastic way for kids to visualize something abstract in a really concrete way," Elizabeth Hamby, the children's Neighborhood Explorers Coordinator for the Museum of the City of New York, told DNAinfo. "Anybody can jump in. We'll show hands-on how the city evolved over the past 200 years."

A few museums that are not presently open on Fifth Avenue will also be participating.

The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is currently undergoing a major renovation, and the Carnegie mansion at East 91st Street,  will still have a presence at the event, as will the festival's newest member, the Museum for African Art, which is slated to open in its new home on East 110th Street in a year. 

The Goethe-Institut New York, which is at an interim location at 72 Spring St. in SoHo, will be there, too, at its former building under renovation at 1014 Fifth Ave., providing info about its new venues and programs.

Since starting up in 1978 to increase public awareness of the area's museums and promote public support of the arts, the Museum Mile Festival has seen more than 1.5 million visitors, organizers said.