Hidden in Plain Sight: A Museum Rooftop Treasure (Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

Summer is around the corner and suddenly, it’s visitor season in NYC.  This means taking out-of-town guests where the tourists go – to museums.

Water Tower as seen from the Sculpture Garden at MoMA

We visited MoMA to again marvel at the breadth and depth of their collection.  When taking a break from the onslaught of Starry Night, Water Lilies and Picasso’s famous Three Musicians, I wandered to a corner of the fourth floor gallery just past the elevators to look out over Midtown Manhattan.  What I saw took my breath away and got my heart racing with joy!

I had read about British artist Rachel Whiteread’s 1998 work, “Water Tower,” and knew that MoMA made it part of their permanent collection after the piece left its original home as a public art installation on a SoHo rooftop.  Old MoMA re-installed this piece on their roof, letting the 12-foot tall, translucent resin cast of a cedar water tower play with the light, and reflect the colors of the New York City sky.

Water Tower as seen from the Sculpture Garden at MoMA

When I called MoMA last year to find out the fate of this wonderful rooftop art installation, I was told it was “in storage” and that I could only experience it through images on the internet.  Happily, this is not true!  It’s on display; you just need to know where to look and what you are looking for.

Not only can you can see it through the window in the corner of the fourth floor gallery, but you can also see it from the Sculpture Garden.  When you walk outside, stay close to the main gallery building, just behind Picasso’s “Goat” and LOOK UP! to the rooftop of what seems to be the next building.  Depending on the time of day and the light, you’ll see a white-pink-blue-orange water tower, Rachel Whiteread’s famous resin cast of an iconic New York City water tower, that is not in storage after all!

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2 thoughts on “Hidden in Plain Sight: A Museum Rooftop Treasure (Museum of Modern Art, 11 W. 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

  1. Have you been to pier 15 yet Leslie? Brand new rooftop lawn that overlooks the Brooklyn Bridge…

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