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A New View of New York City







The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005, Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
Photo: Wolfgang Volz ©2005 Christo

More than a century ago the City of New York purchased 843 acres of swamp land that became Central Park. In 1964, environmental artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude immigrated to New York from Europe and fell in love with the huge public park, where they played every day with their young son. Hoping to express their feelings through art, in 1979, the artists proposed a public art display they called The Gates. They planned to place thousands of giant flags throughout the park that would both mimic the grid-like structure of the city streets surrounding the park and emphasize the park’s meandering walkways.

Twenty-four years later, Christo and Jeanne-Claude were finally granted permission to install The Gates, and on February 12, 2005, their vision became reality as 7,503 saffron colored fabric “gates” were unfurled for the public to enjoy for a short 16 days.

Among the thousands of visitors who traveled to the Big Apple to experience The Gates was a group of 24 Pittsburghers led by Thomas Sokolowski, director of The Andy Warhol Museum.

For Sokolowski, a former New Yorker, the excursion was an opportunity to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with Pittsburghers. “Despite the harsh winter weather, everyone in our group appeared to appreciate the beauty of the bright flags against the grey sky, appearing and disappearing through the bare branches of the trees, and to understand the joy the artists felt for the park,” he says. “It was a marvelous feat of engineering and art that you had to experience in person, and I think it was quite powerful.”

In addition to experiencing The Gates, Carnegie Museums travelers enjoyed a whirlwind of private tours through independent galleries, artists’ studios, private collections, and the recently renovated and expanded Museum of Modern Art.

“ Our trip was truly unique,” says Barbara Rackoff, who was thrilled to have been a part of the three-day tour. “Tom provided commentary that brought it alive for us. The experience meant so much more because we really understood what the artists were trying to accomplish, and we were able to see things we never would have seen on our own. It was definitely worth the trip.”


Upcoming Trips

Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin: Fateful Encounter
National Museum of Fine Art, Quebec City, August 4-7, 2005
With its narrow streets, fortification walls, fine restaurants, and French-speaking citizens, Quebec has a European atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else in North America. In addition to the exhibition, travelers will visit an artist’s studio and tour a private collection. Accommodations are at the world-renowned Chateau Frontenac.

The Mythical Island of Sicily
March 24-April 4, 2006
Join distinguished historian Peter Lauritzen as he travels to the island of Sicily. Travelers will visit Taormina and Siracusa and then cross the Straits of Messina to see the Riace bronzes. The trip will include several stops at private homes along the way to Piazza Armerina to view the mosaic pavements of the largest Roman imperial villa ever excavated, the Doric Temples of Agrigento, the ancient site of Selinunte, and the remote shrine of Segesta. The final destination will be Palermo.

For more information about traveling with Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, please call Barbara MacQuown @ 412.578.2618, or e-mail

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