Science and art museum proposed for North Brooklyn waterfront

The Brooklyn Paper
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A North Brooklyn community group has come up with a grand idea to open the Brooklyn Science and Art Museum — an institution merging the abstract pursuit of aesthetics with the concrete study of the natural world.

Town Square Inc. is looking for a waterfront site in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that could host a world-class facility on the scale of Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural History or the New York Hall of Science in Queens in the next six years.

“We want this to be one of the things on the list when you are a visitor to New York City,” said co-organizer Darrick Borowski. “We want you to cross the East River to come here.”

The museum will have interactive exhibits, an educational center, and scientists in residence.

“We’re looking for scientists who are interested in art and artists who are interested in science,” said Borowski. “We want to highlight the intersection between those two.”

It’s still too early to tell how much the ambitious project will cost, how it will be funded, exactly where it will be located, or when it will be completed.

“It’s an embryonic idea yet,” said Graciela Flores, a science writer who is also one of the main organizers. “And the partnerships we make are going to be crucial.”

The first step is conducting a feasibility study to determine what museum-goers want to see — whether it’s dinosaur bones or murals by Diego Rivera, or maybe both.

“We’ve tossed around the idea of an iMax theater, but we have to see if that’s what the people want,” said Borowski.

No matter what shape the museum ends up taking, the organizers say now is the time.

“There are families moving into North Brooklyn and the demographics are shifting,” said Borowski. “We’ve got a more well-rounded audience now and there is no cultural institution to match that.”

To raise awareness and attract partnerships and monied sponsors, organizers are planning a series of pop-up exhibitions at storefronts and parks throughout the borough, with the first exhibit at the annual Go Green! Greenpoint festival hosted by Town Square Inc. on Earth Day.

“We’re also going to try to organize regular talks and a science cafe, maybe something where we meet over drinks and listen to a speaker,” said Flores, who lives in Williamsburg.

It won’t be the borough’s first world-class museum — there’s the massive Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway, with its famed Egyptian collection.

And this isn’t the first time North Brooklynites kicked around a plan to create a waterfront cultural hub: opponents of a plan to turn the closed Domino Sugar factory into a residential and commercial development proposed turning the hulking industrial site into a museum that would rival London’s Tate Modern.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at

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Reasonable discourse

SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Like Yah! lets break this down. just for starters you are looking for a piece of land the size of the museum of Natural History. Has to be waterfront, and in the most pricey real estate market in NYC. Now the MNH gets tens of millions of visitors a year. you want to put your museum in a part of the city that has the most crowded subways in the system. In a recently flooded zone. and you probably don't want cars because they are not organic. That much real estate, plus parking for oh say......200,000 bicycles is going to cost in excess of 1/2 a billion dollars in the this market. And then, with the leftover money, we can build a museum! Well between Kickstarter and the iMax theater you should be able to do this in about 6 years!. Like Yah! DO you people fart glitter?
Feb. 27, 2013, 9:21 am
ty from pps says:
Wow, SwampDouche... I was wondering which of the ignorant townies would be the first to chime in! You win!

No, you're right. A museum should be located in a desolate area where no one goes. There is certainly no history of museums being sited in expensive locations. Nope.

Grand Army Plaza? Central Park? Midtown Manhattan?

If idiots like you actually mattered, this city would just be about as awesome as Scranton, PA.

How do you think museums are developed? They just appear one day? Such an ignorant, douchebag. Just because you don't want to develop a new museum doesn't mean it's a bad idea. It's just not part of your narrow, sad world.
Feb. 27, 2013, 9:38 am
vito from Staten Island says:
"“There are families moving into North Brooklyn and the demographics are shifting,” said Borowski. “We’ve got a more well-rounded audience now and there is no cultural institution to match that.”"
Notice Borowski said "We've", meaning the founders most likely live in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area. I like how people dream big but hate the unrealistic "I can do anything b/c my mommy said I could" attitude of these transplants. Yes, you know, there are hundreds of well-rounded neighborhoods in NYC.. but that doesnt mean each of them need a giant museum.
Feb. 27, 2013, 9:39 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Thanks Ty, you made my point (again) for me. Willaimsburg is served by a single subway line. Greenpoint is served by a single Subway line. Grand Army Plaza? 11 Subway lines. Central Park? Surrounded both sides and the bottom by Subway Lines. How many Subway lines in Midtown? Well Ty, just about all of them. So where would you build something that will need tens of millions of visitors to survive? Who is the ignorant townie now? simple math transplant. But transplants don't study math. They study artisnal food, bike lanes and finger paints. This why all your hipster business's fail. You don't understand simple economics.
Feb. 27, 2013, 10 am
ty from pps says:
Grand Army Plaza is served by 11 subway lines?!! Last time I checked there is 2/3 serving the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

SwampDouche and Vito... I can't help you with your prejudices. That's all you. And I can't help that you guys are offended by the fact that some folks are *exploring* the idea of a new museum. I know, it's really difficult for you.

Don't worry. No one would dare open a museum in your neighborhood... maybe an anthropological "duck blind" where tourists secretly observe you in your natural habitat, but no museums.
Feb. 27, 2013, 12:21 pm
davidd from Bay Ridge says:
Unfortunately North Brooklyn doesn't have adequate subway transportation along the waterfront to support this project.
Atlantic yards would make more sense, they have the space and the planned residential towers could be built on top or sides of the museum similar to the City Point Project. Another more realistic option is to finish building the Brooklyn Museum as it was intended. The original plan was for a world class science and art museum 4 times the current size of what is there today. The land is still there covered by asphalt.
Feb. 27, 2013, 12:44 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
Here's the breakdown:

95,000 sq. ft. dedicated to coat hanger and yarn sculptures, found object murals, performance and participation art and a cafe tha doubles as a performance media space.

And one folding coffee table to show what happens when you mix vinegar with baking soda.

Something tells me the "science part is only there to lend legitimacy to the project.
Feb. 27, 2013, 12:51 pm
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
I've taken the subway to the Met, MoMa, Museum of Natural History.....went to the Brooklyn museum once - when I was enrolled in CYO bus trip.

Brooklyn will never be Manhattan and it liked it that way.
Swampy has a point. One subway line versus many. This project will amount to little more than a playground for the locals.
Feb. 27, 2013, 12:55 pm
Pat from Brooklyn says:
Davidd - the big museums in any major city thrive make the majority of their income from tourism. I can't see Brooklyn as a tourist spot save for when mommy and daddy stop by for brunch so they can hand over the rent check.

Even here in Philly - a major city but in no way as big or diverse as NYC - has it's museums packed to the gunwales on the weekends.

And there are a hundred different ways to gain easy access.
Feb. 27, 2013, 12:58 pm
ty from pps says:
When I see comments like "I can't see Brooklyn as a tourist spot" and, especially, followed up with the requisite "trustafarian" jab... It makes me wonder if you've been to Brooklyn recently or left your odd little enclaves of the "Real Brooklyn" you all like to blather on about.
Feb. 27, 2013, 1:30 pm
Homey from Crooklyn says:
What a nebulous concept. Maybe they'll have Matthew Silver screaming like a psycho and smashing test tubes as
an "interactive exhibit".
Feb. 27, 2013, 1:52 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Ty you ignorant slut. once again you have let your preconceptions get the better of you. As I have mentioned many, many times before. I do not live in South Brooklyn. I live near a museum, and a botanical garden and a zoo and a plaza and a really big library and a pretty nice park (bike lanes aside). And Ty, I don't rent. I own. not like pay a mortgage own. single family house, paid for, with a garage. Stuff like this you can not afford and my family has been here a long, long ,long time. The idea is stupid. Have you any idea what it would cost to buy a plot of land big as big as the Museum of Natural History? In Williamsburg? Next to the water? And they are going to pay for this with "pop up museums" This is so ridiculous even a feeb like you should have laughed at it. After construction you are talking over a BILLION DOLLARS!!!!! Now how are you going to pay for this?
Feb. 27, 2013, 2:39 pm
Marius from The Kew says:
Who can't get behind a museum?!? But as it is very apparent, who can get TO the museum??? The Brooklyn waterfront is terribly under-served by mass transit, which makes it generally frequented by those within walking/biking distance, which in no way would economically support something on the scale of what is being proposed here.
Perhaps any effort to bring something new and enriching to this (or any other neighborhood) should first be focused on making sure the infrastructure is present to support such an endeavor.
Or, perhaps the organizers should be proposing undertakings more in line with available resources: creating several incubators that explore the types of programming proposed in the above-mentioned museum could provide an opportunity to project the success and better shape the vision before committing resources to an effort unlikely to succeed.
Feb. 27, 2013, 2:53 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
BTW Grand Army plaza is within easy walking distance of the 2,3,4,5,B,Q,G,S,A & C trains plus the LIRR. The D, N & R are not to far either. Now please list all the subways close to the Willaimsburg Brooklyn Flea you silly CU&T
Feb. 27, 2013, 2:54 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Isn't this where you start posting under my name Ty? Once you lose the argument?
Feb. 27, 2013, 2:55 pm
ty from pps says:
SwampDouche, seriously?

I'm not sure what argument you think you've won. The Atlantic-Pacific Terminal is 1-1/2 miles from the Brooklyn Museum. I don't mind a 1/2-hour walk, but most visitors would not typically view this as what is normally thought of as "served by the subway."

And what does your mortgage status have to do with anything? Umm... I'm proud of you?

Also, I think this conversation about the waterfront being underserved by transit is quite amusing. When transit isn't required (i.e., large industrial area), there is no transit. If transit is needed, transit expands (or should). This is just lazy thinking in the comments above. "Accck. It's not there now. So, it must be impossible!"
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:10 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
So now, on top of the billion dollars in land acquisition and building, you are proposing that new subway lines be built for the Brooklyn Museum of Wimsey? So now we can add a couple of billion more to the cost? I ask again. How do you propose this be paid for? Museum, plus Subway = at least $3 Billion. And lets not start with ferries and cycles. The Museum of Natural History get tens of millions of visitors each year. So tell me how this gets done and turns a profit??????
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:25 pm
AnonMNH from nearby says:
As a scientist, the idea of a new museum is exciting. But, as a current employee of the AMNH, I should point out a few things. First, the museum sits on land that is owned by NYC, meaning that not only does the museum *not* pay for it's real estate, but the City pays for upkeep of the grounds and museum's facade, roof, etc. The AMNH is heavily subsidized by NYC tax dollars, in other words. The remaining costs are covered both through visitor revenue and endowments/donations, and the latter have declined precipitously over the last few years, which means that most departments are severely understaffed.

Given that the AMNH is among the most prestigious natural history institutions in the world, and that it still struggles to pay its bills, I'm skeptical that this proposed museum would be successful. Still, I hope them the best.
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:29 pm
Forbid from DUMBO & DUMBER says:
Now that the Implants have arrived... give them their museum.. they deserve it... they deserve it all!!! Just don't pull another white flight again on us in 10 or 20 yrs... plssss stay!!!!! take, take anything u want!!! LOL.
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:31 pm
ty from pps says:
Hmm... It's like you can't read.

Let me just point at one example -- "And they are going to pay for this with "pop up museums" Where does it say they are planning on paying for *anything* using this pop up museum technique?

It's not worth even thinking about addressing the rest of your ignorant comments.

But you do make me wonder... How does anyone possibly get to places in the city if there isn't a subway stop outside? I guess it's not possible. It's a 1/2 mile from the 4/5 to the Met Museum.... How do people get to the museum? Must be secret magic.
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:42 pm
manposeur from brokelyand says:
A giant museum versus glass tower condos is preferable because it stands a better chance to serve the public, rich or poor.
Even if housing is still needed I am far more suspicious of the real estate developers nor do I believe in new public housing unless the community gets involved or it is geared towards working & middle class people.
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:44 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Thanks AnonMNH for injecting some reality. The "I want it so I should have it" generation doesn't want to build a museum, they want to go right to the top and be on par with one of the largest museums in the world. And they want it in 6 years and they have zero capital and they want it near their house, in a flood zone, in one of the most expensive places on earth that is completely under served by transportation. And how will they get this? pop up museums and iMax theater and kickstarter. They don't want to start small and build. They want it all now and someone should just give it to them. I can't begin to imagine what this ass-wipes think of themselves. Sure a museum would be nice but perhaps something a bit less than a BILLION DOLLARS to start?
Feb. 27, 2013, 3:46 pm
ty from pps says:
SwampDouche... If you think your comments are anything like the reasonable *and* positive comment by AnonMNH, you are even more delusional than I thought.

You should really take a moment for self-reflection.

Has the thought ever entered your head that these folks are actually very knowledgeable about non-profit organizations? How to raise funds? How to grow and maintain a donor base?

No? Never?

And, if they're not. If this is just a silly pipe dream by a few dummies... What is the WORST thing that could happen? Yep. That's right. It fails in the exploration and planning phase.

And SwampDouche, How o' How pray tell does that affect you in ANY WAY?! How are you possibly harmed by this project failing? Or succeeding, for that matter.

Time for some self-reflection about your pathetic sources of "outrage" -- perhaps you sound spend more time painting your fully-owned house. Did I mention how proud we all are?
Feb. 27, 2013, 4:07 pm
Marius from The Kew says:
Unfortunately "ty", your tone and choice of substantiating remarks detracts from what could be a compelling argument for such a facility in this area of NYC.

Your manner of discussing this topic is as mature as your vision for realizing it.

This city, all its 5 boroughs, needs undertakings that are both innovative and enriching to their communities, while being sustainable over the long term, the latter of which this proposal completely lacks.

Come back when your ideas are a little more than half-baked...
Feb. 27, 2013, 4:11 pm
J.J. from BK says:
Art museum please...
Since all the galleries are moving out to BK anyway.
People trek to PS1 and socrates - they will trek one stupid stop on the L for a good art museum.
Feb. 27, 2013, 4:15 pm
ty from pps says:
"Your manner of discussing this topic is as mature as your vision for realizing it."

Marius, my vision for realizing it? How is that my job? I'm not building a museum. I'm just point out that SwampYankee is a closed-minded, townie douchebag.
Feb. 27, 2013, 4:20 pm
Marius from The Kew says:
correction: "...your defense of the vision for realizing it."

In any case, the "townie douchebag" has a very valid point just as you think you do, only instead of fostering a discourse that could amount to a middle ground between the two extremes, you are contributing to dissonance that keeps them apart...
You come across as a close-minded transplant douche-bag, douchier because you should know better.
Feb. 27, 2013, 4:33 pm
ty from pps says:
Marius -- If you've noticed, there is NOTHING that SwampDouche ever comments on in a positive way. Everything is horrible. Everything is wrong. Everything is an example of how his imaginary Brooklyn is being destroyed. Everything is negative. Everything.

This entire article was about floating an idea. It CLEARLY stated that this was at the very beginnings of exploration. It mentioned things like the "pop-up museums" as ways of learning about what the local residents are interested in seeing and garnering support. These folks pursuing this idea speak of waterfront property because (a) it's a nice view and (b) made specific mention of converting former industrial property.

Honestly, i don't know what sort of weird psychological baggage SwampDouche has, but every single proposed idea about Brooklyn is met with his usual bitter, pathetic reaction.

Marius -- And what, exactly, is my "extreme position"?! That a major undertaking like this is possible? That an idea shouldn't be dismissed as soon as it's mentioned? That most people SwampYankee and Diehipster spew their hatred at are hardworking, intelligent people that don't get a monthly check from dad in Iowa?

(As a side note, I'm still not sure how all of these flyover states have so many billionaires that can afford to bankroll all of their children in NYC.)
Feb. 27, 2013, 4:49 pm
Marius from The Kew says:
Ty -
First and foremost, this is my first time reading/commenting on this site's articles. Apparently, I've walked into an ongoing feud of sorts between you and said douches...
Second, the extremes I mentioned were generalizations at you and said douchebag's point of view, not that the museum represents some sort of marginal thinking...

Personally, I'm in favor of the vision of a museum, as long as its an extension of a sound (relatively speaking) development strategy, taking into account the existing deficiencies of the neighborhoods in question. Such an undertaking should bring a lot more factors into the discussion, from maximizing existing transportation infrastructure and future improvements, to the long term sustainability of such a facility, and its impact on the larger community (both & -)...
As a transplant turned townie, I yearn to see more of this type of bridging between NYC 'old guard' and 'new guard', as this is the key to any community's long-term success. Nothing comes of encouraging and participating in the kind of dialogue that alienates NYers that see themselves as stakeholders in these endeavors, even if their points of views represent a mistaken perspective. Ultimately we should strive to realize these endeavors in a way that benefits townies and transplants hug and make up!
Feb. 27, 2013, 5:08 pm
JAZ from Harming Harrisons says:
I've been crunching the numbers, and I think this could actually work: if Megan doubles the price on those bracelets she sells at Brooklyn Flea, Quinn gets the rooftop beehive going again, and Matthew Silver the kidult performs some quirky performance art shows over at the McKibbin Lofts, I think they can piece together just enough to make this happen.
Feb. 27, 2013, 5:55 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
"Town Square Inc. is looking for a waterfront site in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that could host a world-class facility on the scale of Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural"

Again, I ask, how could such a space be paid for in 6 years? Such as space, on the waterfront, in Northern Brooklyn would cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Probably the high hundreds of millions. There is nothing wrong with the vision but lets be realistic. I'm familiar with most of the waterfront in Northern Brooklyn. Whats not environmentally toxic (superfund toxic) is owned or well beyond the reach of Town Square Inc. If such a property were to come on the market do you really think Ratner would let you waltz in and take it? This is nothing more than a stoner dorm room fantasy. Tell you what, start small. See if you can raise the funds to buy that tiny space where the Brooklyn Flea was last year. What do you think that is going for? The big museums in NYC were either funded by municipal dollars (worlds fair) or were started by the titans of industry (think Gates, Buffet in this age). The City isn't paying and you don't have a billionaire in your pocket. Once again, how much would a piece of waterfront property the size of the Museum of Natural History cost and how would you pay for it?
Feb. 27, 2013, 6:38 pm
Pat I from Brooklyn says:

I think the difference between condos and a museum is that condos are in demand. For better or worse it brings in people of a certain income level. These people pay taxes. Aside from the usual payola shenangians that take place bewteen the city and developers, condos are a commercial enterprise.

Museums, on the other hand require government funding and donations. If these folks collect enough with their fundraising then God bless 'em. But like Swampy said, legitimate museums - even the for profit science museums (for kids) that are found in every major city are expensive ventures...and they're expensive to keep up. Exhibits - like the Titanic exhibit at The Franklin Institute are expensive endeavors. that's why going there will easily run you 50 bucks for two just in admissions.

Museums like The Met were largely paid for with huge donations from the great robber barons. We'll never EVER see anything like them again.

But like I said - if they do it on their own, so be it. But I suspect it will be a failed, amateurish venture. They want a museum so they can say they have a museum. What's sad is that land could really be put to better use.

The museum is being championed by people who open and close collectives, co-ops, galleries,performance spaces, etc with alarming regularity. Oh they're passion in the short run..until the next shiny thing comes along. Then there's the costs:


Architect's fees (good luck paying for cesar Pelli or Frank gehry with the proceeds from pop up museums).

Cost of building.

Union Payoffs

Garbage removal.

Purchase of permanent exhibits

staff (Many museum curators make well over a million a year.

TEchnical personnel. Go research how may restorers, craftsmen, scientists are employed by your average museums.



Cost of installing travelling exhibits.

And this is only the beginning.

Trust me this adventure will be nothing more than a "very expensive look at me" project housing little more than the works f local artists - which means many photos of dead birds, water towers and graffitit and stuff made with reclaimed objects. Don't be surprised if the "artisits" wind up paying for the privilege of telling the folks back home that their work is in a museum.

science. Yeah right. These people think science starts and ends with laptops and roof top veggies. Any science museums has science professionals on staff. Ad you can't have a science museum without a planeterium. So know you need an astrophyicist. Good luck luring one of them away from JPL, DARPA or NASA.
Feb. 27, 2013, 7:23 pm
ty from pps says:
"or well beyond the reach of Town Square Inc."

Why Swampy?? Why couldn't this group potentially excite a "titan of industry" to provide major funding for this project? Their Board of Director and Advisory Council is full of influential and connected people...

It seems that their work to-date has been smaller in scale, but why does everything have to be incremental? And why does it have to be a $1 billion purchase? There's a lot of City land on the waterfront. Why couldn't the city enter into a 100-year lease... win-win. City gets land rehabbed and made attractive to residents and visitors, museum gets land to sit on.

It is nice that you have decided to tone down your rhetoric... some.
Feb. 27, 2013, 7:31 pm
SwampYankee from runined Brooklyn says:
"Town Square Inc. is looking for a waterfront site in Williamsburg and Greenpoint that could host a world-class facility on the scale of Manhattan’s American Museum of Natural" "6 years" Their words not mine. The MNH is HUGE!!! Much bigger than the East River Park. HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of DOLLARS. I ask again, and gain, and again.. Where do you get the money for this in 6 years???? A simple question, They set the size and the time frame not me. Please dear god answer the simple question or simply shut the —— up
Feb. 27, 2013, 7:58 pm
ty from pps says:
I don't know. And this is also the Brooklyn Paper -- not exactly known for relaying information accurately. So, Ms. Furfaro's words... not theirs.

That sentence doesn't necessarily mean they will have a massive museum up-and-running in 6 years. More likely, what is meant is that they want to secure the LAND in 6 years. Which, if you know how big projects work, is a perfectly reasonable timeline.
Feb. 27, 2013, 8:13 pm
Just Wonderin from Around says:
So, does this mean that the place where Swamp Yankee lives has been in the family for a long time and somebody else paid the mortgage? Sure sounds that way! Although I'm sure the taxes are tough enough.
Feb. 28, 2013, 2:34 pm
Transplant from Here to Stay says:
Yes, ol' swampy is generationaly and parentaly supported.
Feb. 28, 2013, 3:40 pm

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