When we showed up at the new CitizenM Bowery Hotel for our tour of the Museum of Street Art, the chipper front desk clerk showing us the way asked, “Do you know about 5Pointz?” We excitedly proclaimed that we’d actually visited the original (which returned such a big WOW that we felt like we’d just confessed to being present when electricity was discovered). It shouldn’t be surprising. The walls of 5Pointz were whitewashed less than five years ago, but its loss was felt amongst street art lovers worldwide. It’s a local legend, and treated as such.
Gone, but not forgotten
Street art culture is such that it builds upon the path laid by its predecessors, so even though street art is now widely celebrated in New York City at hubs like The Bushwick Collective and The Welling Court Mural Project, it seems fitting to have a spot that pays homage to 5Pointz. Meres One was the primary curator at 5Pointz and fought hard to turn it into a graffiti museum. So when CitizenM offered him the space at their latest New York City location, he worked with co-curator Marie Cecile Flageul to bring 20 artists who had originally displayed work at 5Pointz together to build the Museum of Street Art (MoSA).
CitizenM seems like the perfect partner for the venture: its hotels feature bright pops of color, contemporary design and a passion for art. Its Bowery location even more so, as The Bowery and Lower East Side have a strong connection to the street art scene in New York City. It’s home to the Bowery Wall, of course, and many of its structures are canvases for street artists from around the world.
If you think you’re stepping into a sterile art gallery, think again. Works by street artists like the dynamic duo of The Yok and Sheryo, Vince Ballentine, Damien Mitchell, Elle, Danielle Mastrion, and many more adorn the hotel’s stairwell walls, making it a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Because it’s in a stairwell, each turn offers a surprise. So even though we’ve shared some photos here, keep in mind that this is something that really should be explored in person.
The museum is free and open for self-guided tours, but you’ll need a reservation. Make yours here.
All bags must be checked in before you start the tour.
Tours are currently limited to groups of five individuals, so overcrowding shouldn’t be an issue. For group tours, you can reach out to email@example.com.
The museum spans 20 floors, but the tour starts at the top and exits into the lobby. You won’t need to spend hours on the stairclimber to prep for it, but consider that you might be in there for a while.
Just before you exit the tour, there’s a small pile of chalk near an open wall where you can leave a little (temporary) mark of your own. Have fun with it!
Pair it with:
A meal at Nakamura
At the helm of Nakamura is the eponymous Chef Shigetoshi Nakamura. Though it’s his first restaurant in the United States, Chef Nakamura’s name holds a lot of weight in Japan, where he is known as one of the “Ramen Gods”, a title given only to those making the best of the best. You really can’t go wrong here, but it’s worth noting that their options geared towards herbivores (including fully vegan options) are given the same care as those for the carnivores. Another bonus: Nakamura offers both hot and cold ramen, so you can visit any time of year.
Just remember, when you are asked if you wish to add an ajitama egg to your ramen–and you will be–the only reasonable answer is “yes”.
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– L. & J.