The museum marked its official reopening to the community on September 16, but not before spearheading a public arts project in collaboration with MTA Arts & Design and Times Square Arts, which was unveiled last Tuesday.
“For -----> forever…” is a citywide installation by Mierle Laderman Ukeles - the official, but unsalaried artist-in-residence for the Department of Sanitation since 1977 - that presents a gesture of gratitude to local public service workers who have been regarded as essential throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to at the Queens Museum off the Grand Central Parkway, the artist’s message, written in her own handwriting, will be on view across 2,000 electronic displays throughout the MTA subway and rail system, as well as a flash every 15 minutes on a digital billboard rising 120 feet over Times Square.
“With the incredible heroism and tireless work of subway, bus and rail employees, this pointed acknowledgement of their work is relevant and necessary right in the space where they work or commute,” says MTA Arts & Design director Sandra Bloodworth. “As an artist of the public sphere, Ukeles has always worked to keep the public eye on the people who sustain the city, and this heartfelt ‘thank you’ will touch those who keep New York moving.”
A pioneer of socially engaged art, Ukeles is known for bringing the city’s maintenance and sanitation workers to the forefront of her work.
“For -----> forever…” is an extension of one of Ukele’s most notable projects, “Touch Sanitation,” in which the artist shook hands with all 8,500 DSNY employees along their routes from 1979 to 1980. She told each worker “Thank you for keeping NYC alive!”
“Now,” says Ukeles of this most recent year-long project, “four decades later, in the midst of this horrific pandemic, my statement becomes newly relevant to the city's infrastructure service workers, who are physically out there working every day to make sure our city remains a living entity.”
This most recent project also builds on her relationship with the Queens Museum, which began in 2017 with a retrospective, “Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art.”
Four internal exhibitions kick off the Queens Museum’s return to in-person operation: “The Conference on Animals,” an exhibition consisting of children's drawings from 1900 to present day curated by Amy Zion and a mural by Ulrike Müller; “Where can we live?” featuring a collection of works from 12 artists asking questions about home, property and the Earth; “Bruce Davidson: Outside on the Inside,” bringing together more than 100 prints of New York City from 1959 to 1977; and a four-year documentation of advocacy work called “Ridgewood Reservoir for the 21st Century.”
Opening hours for the museum, located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, are Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m., two days shorter than its pre-pandemic schedule. Guests over the age of two are required to wear masks, and temperature checks will be conducted prior to entry.
Though admissions is free, visitors must reserve a timed ticket ahead of time.