An Inner-City Island

New Jersey's Newark Museum is world class, but middle-class fear and suburban sprawl have left it underused.

"Why was so fabulous a collection unable to draw a crowd on a Saturday afternoon? Alas, the Newark Museum is an aging inner-city temple to art that appears to have outlived its clientele. In fact, the museum behaves as though it's slightly embarrassed to display its wares, which also include major collections of African and Tibetan art: It doesn't even sell a handbook of its holdings at the museum store."

"The [Newark's] decline now appears to have halted, but you don't need a census taker to tell you that something is still terribly wrong: All you have to do is take the five-minute walk from the downtown train station to the handsome New Jersey Performing Arts Center, noticing along the way that none of the newer, post-riot buildings has street-level windows. The architecture of Newark is a fever chart of middle-class fear."

[Editor's note: This story is accessible online without subscription for a period of seven days after publication.]

Full Story: Visit to an Empty Museum

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