These are certainly the characteristics of this hot, endlessly muggy summer. They are also the major components of two New York museum shows presently on view. James Turrell at the Guggenheim is spectacular. I’ve been 3 times so far. Not only because I enjoy it so much, but also because it took me that many times to figure out how to see the “Dark Room” without standing in a long line. (The trick is to arrive just before the museum opens with a prepaid ticket or a membership card and take the elevator directly to the 5th floor.) I will never tire of the light show, Aten Reign, in the rotunda, but there is something remarkable about spending time in the “Dark Room” where the only things that change are in our brain. In contrast, the Rain Room at MOMA is all about what does happen. For a few superhuman moments the viewer/participant experiences the exhilaration of parting water. One can walk through the downpour but remain completely dry. The first time I visited the show, I chose the no-line “walk by” alternative. My impression was that the whole thing was much ado about nothing, so I was taken off guard when on the next visit I was able to walk through the rain. A pure adrenalin rush that lasted the rest of the day!
I only hope that next time MOMA has a show with the potential for this many viewers – the queues for its previous venue, the London Barbican were often 8-10 hours – they will go the route of selling timed tickets.