Stephanie walked from her hotel to the Museum of Modern Art the next morning, using the map she picked up from reception as a guide. Not that she really needed it. The grid pattern of Manhattan’s streets made it easy to navigate. It was a perfect day and there was not a cloud in the sky.
Stephanie turned the corner onto 5th Avenue. Tall buildings lined either side of the street like giants marching in formation up the island. The sun was high in the sky reflecting off the many mirrored glass windows and pushing the heat down onto the streets below. She passed through a makeshift walkway outside a Pottery Barn store, under hoardings as it underwent a facelift and dodged a man wearing a sandwich board who was handing out flyers advertising a shoe sale. She stopped at the Don’t Walk sign at the next intersection before crossing with a crowd of people, who quickly built up around her. She clasped her bag, which was resting on her hip as she walked, hearing in her mind her mother’s voice warning her of the dangers of pickpockets.
She paused opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral. A tour guide was talking to a group gathered around him, and she joined them gazing at the magnificent sandstone church. It was quite a contrast to the glass and steel structures surrounding it, its twin spires pointing skyward.
“St Patrick’s Cathedral seats two thousand, four hundred people and represents the hopes and dreams of New York’s Irish immigrants,” the guide said.
Stephanie crossed behind the tour group and spent the next few minutes window shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, arguably New York’s most fashionable department store, before pulling herself away and continuing. Large US flags fluttered in the breeze from flagpoles at the first-storey level of many buildings, and fashion billboards adorned the façades of several others advertising high end brands—Armani, Gucci, Guess. The traffic noise was regularly overshadowed by the sounds of sirens in the distance and twice Stephanie jumped in surprise as the horns of several fire trucks blasted out warnings to other vehicles to move over as they raced along the avenue.
Stephanie checked her map when she reached the corner of 53rd Street. The main entrance to the Museum of Modern Art was situated between 5th and 6th Avenues. She joined a large number of tourists entering the museum through the revolving glass entrance doors. The vast rectangular white walled lobby extended across the entire ground floor creating a large spacious reception area. To one side, the entrance to the museum’s famous garden was framed by an impressive opening with large glass walls. Stephanie turned a full circle to get her bearings. Above her, the second floor opened into a light-filled atrium supported by sturdy round columns set at intervals across the lobby. On one wall the list of special exhibitions and their dates was projected in tall black font. Directly opposite she located the information counter below a row of digital screens displaying ticket prices and other museum information.
She resisted the urge to wander around the enormous gallery spaces that she could see branching off enticingly from the main lobby, and instead stopped at the desk to ask for directions to the archives. She greeted one of several attendants.
“Hi. I have an appointment at the archives,” she said.
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