Now that the Bloomberg administration has converted New York’s public schools to sweatshops for the manufacture of standardized test scores, students have to look elsewhere to learn about and be inspired by art.
That’s where museums and exhibit spaces come in, and, fortunately, the Bronx is leading the way by offering first-class work at a price all can afford—free.
In much of the city the cost of looking at pictures and sculpture is too high for families of modest means. Admission to the Museum of Modern Art would run a family of four $78, plus subway fare. The Metropolitan Museum is free to public school students, but parents who want to accompany their youngsters are asked to fork over $25 apiece. Even to visit the Museo El Barrio–steward of the Latino and Caribbean culture so important to residents of the South Bronx–costs adults $5 and students $3–$16 for that family of four.
But last month, the Bronx Museum dropped its $5 admission charge, saying it had “chosen to focus on increasing access to the museum.” Now visitors can take in Emilio Sanchez’s paintings of buildings in Hunts Point at no cost, and cheer exhibits devoted to baseball in the Bronx, from Melrose’s Club Cubano Interamericano, to Little League teams from Hunts Point, Crotona, Riverdale and Van Nest, to the Yankees.
Across the Grand Concourse from the museum, the non-profit arts organization No Longer Empty has taken over the Andrew Freedman Home to mount an exciting exhibit of work by 32 artists devoted to our borough’s past and future.
In just a short time, the Bronx Documentary Center in Melrose has become an important venue for free photography exhibits, and, of course, the Bronx Council on the Arts Bronx Culture Trolley clangs its way to artists’ studios and galleries on the first Wednesday evening of every month—free.
Unlike the Department of Education, these institutions recognize that imagination is not a privilege of the wealthy. They are tearing down the barriers that keep so many New Yorkers from experiencing their city’s artistic treasure.