The Panorama is the jewel in the crown of the collection of the Queens Museum of Art. Built by Robert Moses for the 1964 World’s Fair, in part as a celebration of the City’s municipal infrastructure, this 9,335 square foot architectural model includes every single building constructed before 1992 in all five boroughs; that is a total of 895,000 individual structures.
The Panorama is housed in a moodily lit gymnasium sized room in the QMA. If you live or have ever lived in New York City and have not been, I must insist that you go immediately. Admission: $5. Museum Club spent a long time staring down at the five boroughs, enraptured, spotting where we grew up, our first apartments, where we used to work, the scope of the city laid out below us. A single plane silently takes off and lands at LaGuardia in a meditative loop. There’s Rikers: so big- and all the islands and coastline.
The Museum is looking for sponsors: for fifty dollars you can buy your apartment! Last year the artist Damon Rich used it to physically map foreclosures in the city, a use in line with its original purpose as an urban planning tool.
The quiet and dim lighting reminded me of a medieval cathedral. The Panorama is a place to worship New York, where one is reminded that although your little studio and daily commute to your workplace and favorite bar or coffee shop is represented; it is so small. Each person’s city is different, still encompassed by the panorama.