Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Snug as a Bug- art and history infused Snug Harbor

I really never thought I’d go to Staten Island. I’m not even sure why- I’ve been to Governor’s Island plenty of times. But after visiting Snug Harbor Cultural Center, I’m totally eating my words. The idyllic escape is just a (free) boat ride away, and full of history, nature and ART. It was a mini-village for retired sailors, to spend their final days overlooking the sea, living in gorgeous Greek revival buildings, and eating from the on-site farm. There’s so much going on there its like discovering a secret gem, and I’m ashamed I’d never been there before!

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My favorite building is the visual arts museum, which is so sailor-y that I could move right in. The giant oculus in the ceiling is lined with maritime patterns, and has an arrow attached to the weathervane outside. As the wind moves it, the arrow also moves, creating a sound akin to the rocking of a ship- which was meant to comfort sailors. (much like my white noise machine lulls me to sleep). Real Tiffany windows showing ships are all over the place, as are really unique cobalt windows that seem to glow. The current show up is called “Island Sounds: A 500 Year Mashup” and includes tons of music memorabilia from The New York Dolls to Mick Rock photos.

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There’s also an artist residency, where two lucky emerging artists get to live in the historic cottages, and are fed from the farm- the only TRUE live-in residency in New York.

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There are also gorgeous gardens and meadows (my fave is the Chinese Scholar Garden), music festivals with worthwhile bands (BOWIE played in the tiny historic Music Hall!) and a slew of other things. I need to get there more, at least to be a better New Yorker!

What: Snug Harbor Cultural Center

Where: 914 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301

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