Welcoming Two Great Spaces DowntownSep 25, 2009
Lower Manhattan gets two great additions to our cultural landscape this week. One such addition is too rare an occurrence for our tastes, so two is certainly cause to celebrate.
The Museum of Chinese in America, which operated in a tiny Chinatown space for a few decades, got its long-awaited large center on Centre St. Tuesday, increasing its size by six-fold. And Soho’s loss is Battery Park City’s gain as the Poets House opens in a brand-new, larger home this weekend.
Downtown gets better on the East and West Sides.
Much of what today is considered Chinatown, was once home to Jewish and Italian immigrants. Newcomers are not only an integral part of Lower Manhattan’s history, they are one of the most essential parts of America’s history. The country was founded by immigrants. And each new community has added to what former Mayor Dinkins liked to call our “mosaic.”
MoCA, as many call the museum, now has the space to fully tell the Chinese-American story. Like many immigrant stories, it’s one of discrimination, cruelty, sacrifice and success despite long odds, but each narrative has its own intricacies, its own richness and its own value.
We look forward to the museum continuing in its mission examining the Chinese-American experience for the Chinese community and for everyone. Admission will be free through Saturday, and we encourage readers to visit and return to see new exhibits.
Over on the West, the Poets House, well established in literary circles, now has a proper home in a relatively young neighborhood. We like the idea that the group fixed up and moved their old sofas. A neighborhood with so much new, can use a little of the old.
Poets House has many great events planned and we look forward to more over time. We expect the local schools to take advantage of the new children’s room and we are eager to hear more about what the formal programs in this room will be.
Battery Park City, with its great parks and sitting areas, including Teardrop adjacent to Poets House, has always made an inspiring setting for poets and other writers, and now they have an appropriate indoor space. There is much in Poets House of course for readers, so we encourage you to visit there too.
Lower Manhattan’s many museums and cultural spaces add so much to the quality of life, but they also are an economic engine. We hope government officials take note of how much MoCA and the Poets House brings to this area in tangible and intangible ways. There is still about $50 million of federal money sitting around to help build a performance center at the World Trade Center, but the project remains far away from the back burner, let alone the front. This comes years after the city promised to revive it. Any official in need of inspiration to get the W.T.C. cultural building moving, we have two new places they could visit to get it.