When I received notice that MoMA would be reopening to the public and its employees on Wednesday, October 31, after being closed for two days due to Hurricane Sandy, I have to admit that I wondered if it was too soon.Although my apartment escaped the storm’s impact, I knew many others had very different experiences including several of my colleagues who were without power and hot water, and were dealing with the effects of flooding.
I was happy to be back at work but I didn’t know what to expect in terms of visitorship. When I left my desk to head down to MoMA Studio: Common Senses that day to continue evaluation of the interactive space, I was amazed to see so many families there. It was packed and seemed to be getting busier. But that wasn’t the biggest surprise. Once I began talking to visitors, I realized that many were New Yorkers who had come to MoMA to leave all thoughts of the storm behind for a while, through play and creative exploration. A few had walked a great distance just to come relax and spend time with their family. Visitors found common ground, connecting and communicating with one another through their shared experiences with the hurricane.
Here are some of the responses visitors gave when asked “What prompted you to visit MoMA today?”:
“We are from Westchester. We don’t have any power and wanted something to do and MoMA seemed like a good place to be right now.”
“The hurricane. We are members and are here a lot but today I’m not working and the kids are home so we thought it’d be fun for the kids to get out of the house. And we needed this break too after everything.”
“We live downtown, have a membership and thought it would be a good way to spend some time after the storm, doing something uplifting together.”
Many visitors expressed connections they made to their own lives. One parent said that they “liked the communal nature of the space” and added that they were “thinking of projects we could make as a family and use.”
Over the course of the past few days I found myself thinking how glad I was that MoMA had opened its doors when it did. I know it doesn’t seem like a lot considering the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, but for the families who visited us immediately following the storm, having a place like MoMA Studio: Common Senses to allow them to come together had a positive impact on their day.
Visit MoMA Studio: Common Senses before it closes on November 19, 2012.