Every tourist knows about The Met and MoMA, but New York is filled with many museums and exhibition venues off the beaten trail. In this series, we explore some of the city’s less well known cultural spaces and meet the people who organize them.
Within the United Nations Headquarters exists not only an incredible collection of permanent art and gifts given to the UN by member states, but also space in the Visitors’ Lobby which features changing exhibitions. These shows are dedicated to spreading awareness of key topics that the UN’s work addresses such as climate change, violence against women, and human rights. Additionally, there is an online gallery featuring information about current and past exhibitions.
We visited with Melissa Budinic whose office is responsible for exhibits open to the public at the UN.
New Project: Where are the UN exhibits located and how can one visit them?
Melissa Budinic: There are three “galleries” managed by the UN Exhibits office. Located in the United Nations Headquarters Visitors’ Lobby (1st Avenue at 46th Street in New York City), two exhibit spaces are located straight ahead of the entrance toward the left and the third space is located along the curved wall leading to the tour check in area.
Admission to the galleries and public areas is free with government-issued photo ID and open Monday-Friday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm, Saturday-Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm (closed weekends January and February).
NP: Who organizes the shows and what are they about?
MB: Exhibitions are either developed internally at the UN or by outside entities/individuals. The exhibition proposals are reviewed by the Exhibits Committee. Shows must be educational, offer information on key issues relating to the work of the UN, and be endorsed by a relevant office within the UN (for example, an exhibition on child labor might be sponsored by UNICEF). Past exhibitions have revolved around topics such as the international campaign to ban land mines, ecological and economic importance of healthy oceans, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
NP: How often do they change?
MB: Exhibitions are usually on view for one to two months. We may have one, two, or three shows on view simultaneously, in addition to an ongoing exhibition about the history and renovation of the UN Headquarters in another space. We present approximately 15-20 exhibitions each year in the Visitors’ Lobby, many of which are also included on the website for those who can’t make it to New York to see them in person.
NP: Do you have any favorites?
MB: Not really. Each exhibit is about a different topic, so every time I get to learn something different about the kinds of work that the UN does.
NP: Can anyone submit at proposal for a show?
MB: Certainly, as long as they follow the guidelines. The UN doesn’t present art and solo exhibitions. The shows must cover several countries. For details, please send an email to email@example.com
NP: What’s up next?
MB: In January, we’ll be presenting an exhibition called State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. The exhibition is organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and coincides with International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27. The exhibition is on view starting January 12, 2017.
NP: Thank you for sharing your time!
To learn about more interesting things to see and do while visiting the United Nations (like eating in the delegates dining room, taking a guided tour, and getting a special UN passport stamp), check out the UN website.
The exhibition Palestinian Embroidery: Threads of Continuity, Identity and Empowerment included stunning examples of elaborate embroidery by Palestinian women from the 19th through 21st centuries, photography, dolls, and dresses by contemporary Palestinian fashion designers.
Exhibition image detail
Contemporary fashion faces a row of portraits of the UN Secretaries General in rug form donated by member state Iran.
Installation view of Millennium Villages Project (MVP) – A photographic essay on sustainable development. This exhibition featured photographs of four projects implemented by the Millennium Villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal. Led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the Millennium Villages Project contributed to eliminating extreme poverty in ten African countries over ten years (2005-2015).
A gift by member state Thailand to the United Nations, one of many remarkable pieces of the collection on view at the UN Headquarters.
Scott Henderson is a Brooklyn-based designer, founder of design studio Scott Henderson, Inc., and co-founder of the design collective MINT. Scott’s work—from housewares to consumer electronics to furniture—has been shown in numerous exhibitions such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum’s National Design Triennial and is featured in more than 350 retailers and museums around the world. His work has also been included in The New York Times Magazine, I.D. Magazine’s Annual Design Review, and other prestigious publications.
Henderson’s Slat Chair, above, was prototyped by New Project and debuted at the ICFF in 2011. With ICFF returning to the Javits Center in 2 weeks, we decided to check in with Scott to see what he’s been up to lately.
NP: You’ve designed all sorts of products—from thermometers to furniture to yachts. What would be your dream design job?
SH: It would be fun to do something really big—like be on a team to figure out how to harness ocean waves to convert them into energy, or something like that. How about a huge terrarium that creates drinking water in arid developing countries?
NP: That does sound huge! Since you’re all about the “big idea,” what “big ideas” do you see changing or reshaping your industry?
SH: The Digital Revolution. Even though that kind of design work is different from my kind of design, the trend is all about the decimation of the physical. The biggest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), the biggest movie house has no cinemas (Netflix), the biggest accommodations provider owns no real estate (Airbnb). There are also fewer real stores to buy things in, so instead of seeing and touching a real product, you are buying it based on an online thumbnail image. It’s hard to tell if a design is good or not with only that level of detail, so it makes sense that the importance of [physical] design is therefore diminished, and price competition once again becomes the sole driver of sales. This has reshaped my industry recently in that design now has to offer only what people deem as essential. Millennials don’t want things—they actually hate stuff. The age of the design knickknack is dead, and talking about emotion in design is yesterday’s pitch. Design now has to be about the essential. The trend is a return to problem solving and meaningful innovation.
NP: You run your own successful design studio and have developed your own brands, create your own artwork, have served as chairman of IDSA’s national conference…how do you make time to stay inspired and continue to generate new ideas?
SH: After a while it just becomes a part of who you are and no longer a job. As I tell my clients, Scott Henderson Inc. never closes.
NP: Does your design work come from a solitary or a collaborative process? Or a little of both? How do you like to work?
SH: A little of both. I involve my clients as my core team members. Or if I am doing a “Scott” product, I’ll reach out to buyers and consumers. I’m a sponge for input—I am always listening and watching. I even sleep with one eye open.
NP: Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
SH: I’m developing new “Scott” products: a consumer electronics gizmo, some cookware, and some baby gear.
Scott Henderson’s Slat Chair, designed using the forces of tension and compression, was fabricated from molded aircraft grade birch veneer and two simple polished stainless steel rods. Check out the images below to see how New Project created the prototype of Scott’s chair in our shop.
New Project’s Dennis Potami Graduates from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program
We are excited to announce that New Project’s co-founder and co-CEO, Dennis Potami, has recently graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative! In October 2014, Dennis was one of 28 small business owners throughout the New York tri-state area selected to participate in the 13th cohort of the prestigious business leadership program.
In the United States, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program is a $500 million investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital, and business support services. Over the last sixteen weeks, advisors have helped Dennis and his classmates identify potential business growth opportunities and have provided them with the framework and training to assist in reaching those goals. The intensive program allowed Dennis to work one-on-one with dedicated professionals to develop a strategic and tailored growth plan for New Project.
Dennis had the following to say about his participation and graduation from the Goldman Sachs program:
“Being a small business owner can sometimes feel like you are on an island of your own. The Goldman Sachs program provides an invaluable opportunity to be a part of a network of committed professionals. I feel honored to have been selected to participate in this program where I have learned targeted strategies to help grow our business.“
After sixteen weeks of intense training, New Project has entered the alumni ranks of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative!
Great Job, Dennis!!
think & build
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s Permanent Collection
Last week, we were approached by a lovely couple who were looking to build an enclosed pedestal and mount for a cast-resin sculpture titled Wedding Book by the late artist, Stella Waitzkin. Assisting collectors in building conservational and practical means of displaying their acquisitions is something we have specialized in since we opened our doors, however, this particular circumstance was something very special.
The couple that came to visit us here in Brooklyn was Edward F. Miller and Monina von Opel, of Martha’s Vineyard. This sculpture is not destined for this family’s own private collection, quite the contrary. Mr. Miller is the Vice Chairman of the board of Trustees at Martha’s Vineyard hospital, the only hospital in Dukes County. For the past three years, Mr. Miller and his wife have dedicated themselves to advancing the hospital’s permanent collection. Placing art in hospitals has been a hot topic as of late, and recent articles by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal have shown a significant increase in awareness of the health benefits art can have on not only the patients, but on their families and caregivers as well. Transforming the traditionally sterile and industrial environment of a hospital can help people heal, as recent scientific research has suggested. So, while this is not necessarily a new concept, the model set in place by Mr. Miller and his colleagues is certainly something to be admired.
This is not art for art’s sake, this collection has been developed and polished with the Hospital’s patients, families, employees, and location in mind. While the collection does not include any million-dollar listings, the Hospital has catalogued over 350 works of art that have all been donated to the institution. That’s right. The Hospital is not reallocating resources for acquisitions that should go towards providing the highest quality of healthcare to its community. In fact, not only is the artwork donated, but you’ll often find Mr. Miller and Mrs. Opel hanging and lighting the artwork themselves in the hallways of the Hospital.
Having recently undergone a multi-million dollar building renovation, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital had allocated a small budget to purchase and hang some nondescript poster art that you could find in any hospital in any city of the country. But that wasn’t good enough for Mr. Miller and his companions. He wanted the art on the walls to be able to reflect what was happening outside of the walls. In an article for the Martha’s Vineyard Times, Mr. Miller was quoted :
“The hospital’s architects offered us art, but it was all generic. You could be anywhere. And we wanted you to know you were on the Vineyard. We have so many creative people on the Island, we thought it would be a fantastic thing to bring that creativity into what would otherwise be very institutional.”
Martha’s Vineyard is a place that is bursting with creativity, so why not take advantage of that fact and pay tribute to those who call the Vineyard their home and provide respite for those looking for just a glimpse outside the hospital walls. Catalogued and labeled as any proper collection should be; visitors, patients, staff members, and even the general public can be found at any time during the day wandering the hallways of the Hospital admiring the work.
New Project firmly believes in the power of art to evoke emotion, tell a story, engage, and challenge the viewer. Above all though, we believe in arts ability to help heal. If a piece of art can offer someone a moment of peace, encourage someone to get up out of a bed, or provide an escape from a stressful environment, then it is doing its job.
There is a screening process for all donations, and of course they cannot accept every piece into the collection. Visit the Hospital’s website for more information and to view the extensive collection.
think & build
The Holiday Season in New York City
NYC’s cultural institutions offer top-quality programming and exhibits around this time of year. Navigating the overwhelming options can be, well, overwhelming. With seven kids under the age of ten and one more on the way in ourÂ New Project family, we have some experience finding the best options for meaningful and exciting family time in the city.
If you’ve been following us online for the past month, you’re likely familiar with our latest project at the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in NYC, an exhibit titled Robot Swarm. The response has been glowing from visitors of all ages! The museum is open to the public seven days a week from 10am to 5pm, so there’s no excuse to miss it. You’ll find yourself just as immersed and fascinated as your kids, trust us, we always end up tied up in the Enigma Cafe.
Make sure you check out the other exhibits we’ve built for the museum, including the Logo Generator, Formula Morph, Harmony of Spheres, Motionscape, and Sixth Sense while you are there. Kudos go out to our friends and collaborators at MOEY, a Brooklyn based interactive design company we worked in conjunction with on these pieces.
“Manipulate mathematical symbols symmetrically to create a unique MoMath-style logo” –MoMath
Our entire team here at New Project wishes you and your families a happy holiday season and a beautiful New Year!
Thank you for your support and see you in 2015!
think & build