Traveling teaches you to appreciate the value of solitude. Sometimes one needs to step away and have silence and peace and reflection. Zen can be found be in cities. Museums are where moments of reflection and learning coexist with the outside crowds and noises in every city around the world. In New York, there is peace and serenity to be found by stepping off the sidewalk and through a museum door.
Everyone has their personal taste in the arts, culture, and interest in certain exhibits, but there is a museum for everyone. In New York, 5th Avenue facing Central Park is often referred to as museum mile. There is a museum for every age and every interest in this city. From the museums in Harlem to the Cloisters in the North to the Tenement and 9/11 museums in the South, there is a museum always nearby.
The venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art is a wonderfully diverse museum. It is one of the most family friendly museums in the city. Children can spend hours gazing upon the armored men on horses displayed prominently in the center of the grand room as if they are riding by on their way to a battle with the flags of the day soaring high above. Just beyond the armor display are rooms filed with musical instruments from ancient lured instruments to beautiful wooden harpsichords with floral designs accentuating the craftsmanship of their creators facing more modern guitars meant to be played in concert halls before they came to be displayed. The masterpieces of oil paintings are displayed in somewhat more intimate rooms, with cushioned round and wooden benches a quick walk from the tombs of ancient times and one of New York's most beautiful rooms where the Temple of Dendur is housed in a glass walled room facing Central Park and a fountain floor which lies in contrast to the stone of the temple. It is so breathtaking a room that special events are often held within the room at the base of the ancient ruin with the trees of the park outside serving as a natural backdrop.
On the other side of Central Park is the Natural History Museum. The Natural History Museum is often the choice for school groups. It is perfect for children on a rainy day or to let them wander within eyesight in rooms large enough to house life-size whales and replicas of safari animals. There are meteors and jungle displays and every climate and terrain is displayed. It is like wandering through life-size dioramas, so real it seems you could step into the scenes. It is a learning museum and there are sometimes demonstrations and the ever popular overnight visits when one can sleep among the exhibits when the museum has closed to the public at large.
Within walking distance of both the Metropolitan and the American History Museum is the Museum of Modern Art. The MOMA is just off the southern border of Central Park and within the heart of Midtown. The MOMA is ideal for business travelers to duck in for a quick browse around a few exhibits in between meetings, or to watch one of its featured films or dine in its acclaimed restaurant. The MOMA is a stark building, but within its walls lies a beautiful courtyard filled with trees and chairs and lights in the evening which itself seems park like in the middle of midtown office buildings. A quick step outside the glass doors of the museum is like stepping into a private backyard even on the busiest of days. It is culture surrounded by corporate business and it makes one appreciate the value of both.
In any city around the world there will always be stark difference of every kind. The noises and the crowds are only a part of the city. There is balance to be found in quiet places of reflection and solitude to be found everywhere.There are endless options for museum visits in every corner of the city, from Harlem to the Lower East Side and its Tenement Museum to the beautiful Guggenheim whose building seems more often photographed than the pieces it houses, to the Frick Museums off 5th Avenue which gives visitors a sense of old New York and its era of mansions. Museums offer peace and a reflection of what the city and its people place importance upon to preserve and display for all that visit.