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For History class each student was sent to an exhibit, lecture or tour of their choice and write a three page paper on what they saw and learned.  I choose the LOOK Magazine exhibit in The Museum of the City of New York.


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Visiting the Look Magazine Exhibit


            The Museum of the City of New York presents, “Only in New York: Photographs from LOOK Magazine.”  This exhibition is a collection of Photographs from Look Magazine that work to showcase NewYork, and what it was like to live, work and travel in New York.  The large collection of photos revealed photos from Harlem, the subways, and performers of the arts, even pictures of Ballroom dancing.  Look Magazine used it’s photographs to show their nationwide readers the excitement in New York City. 

            There were many interesting Photos that stood within the museum.  The first set of photos that pulled my attention were entitled “Subway.” The Pictures depicted life on the Subway trains.  In one photo their lied a man on the chairs of the train, while another man sat right beside him unaffected.  It is obvious that the picture was taken more 60 years ago, yet it can still be applied to today's subway behavior.  Strangers sit side by side, each traveling to their own destination, oblivious of the other person.

            Some of the photographs presented in the Museum focused on performing arts and entertainment.  “Dancer and Choreographer Katherine Dunham, Center, with Troupe 1946” by photographer Bob Sandberg showcased Katherine Dunham’s skills as she performed with others and flexed her body into a dancing motion. “Dancers at the Palladium Ballroom in 1961” Photo taken Frank Bauman shows a couple dancing in a ballroom.  The pair seems so full of life as they happily twist their bodies and swing their legs in a rhythmic motion.  Their facial expressions exhibit complete pleasure in the ability to move their bodies in the sanctuary of the ballroom.

            The photographs worked to reveal life in New York.  Photos of Spanish Harlem concentrate on everyday individuals as they gather on sidewalks or sit on stoops as they live in the moment. 

            I believe that the exhibit’s goal was to show it’s audience how Look Magazine used photographs to show the excitement, life, and impressive skills that was alive New York City.  They reveal to their large audience the things that New Yorkers themselves take for granted, yet tourist see as amazing.  I find that they were successful in their goal as I moved from picture to picture and quietly found myself fantasizing about being in one of those pictures and really living.

            It was quite engaging as pictures of dancers with their bodies up in the air hung from the ceiling.  The photographs were not just pictures; they were work of arts that recorded human behavior that is not much different today. Life jumped from the pictures and welcomed me to the scene. 

            The exhibit appeared historically accurate.  The pictures taken appeared to be of people in their natural settings.  Each photograph revealed the subjects living in the moment. 

            What I have learned from The Museum of the City of New York exhibit of “Only in New York: Photographs from LOOK Magazine.”  Is that a picture is worth a thousand words.  With pictures, an individual can see what life and their environment was like 60 years ago without having to read a dozen books.  The world can be presented in a way that can glamorize or demoralize a subject.  I personally enjoyed the exhibit.


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Museum of the City of New York

1220 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10029

212.534.1672 Phone

212.423.0758 Fax

info@mcny.org E-mail

Museum Hours

Tuesday - Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Closed Mondays (except holiday Mondays)

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.