While part of the reason that I went to New York last weekend was to see that awesome LEGO exhibit, the reason I was in a hurry to get back to the City after so many recent trips was to see the Breaking Bad exhibit at The Museum of the Moving Image. The display of props from the show was only going to be at the Museum through October and my Fall schedule is already filling up on the weekends, so I thought it best that I make the trek sooner rather than later. I’d also been meaning to go check out this museum in general, since its focus on “the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media” sounded pretty in line with my interests.
Visiting The Museum of the Moving Image also meant I was expanding my on-going geography lesson of New York as it would require me going to Queens. I hadn’t been to that part of the City in well over a decade, so it was time for me to discovery some new territory. The subway didn’t drop me off in the most promising of stops – it was a very residential/blue collar neighborhood – but as I followed my Google map walking directions and hoped for the best, I eventually entered a slightly more developed and upscale section. Once I see a Starbucks, I know I’m good, and the Museum of the Moving Image is located just across the street from a franchise. I’ve never seen a Starbucks in a sketchy neighborhood.
The Breaking Bad exhibit was my main focus, though as I took the stairs to the second floor I noticed all sorts of things of interest that I would have to double back for. When I finally made my way to where the props were located, I was disappointed on two accounts: the exhibit is extraordinarily small and unlike the rest of the museum, there was no photography. This is not to say that what was featured in the display wasn’t interesting or awesome, but that I was glad that this was not the only reason I had come to New York for the day. I could look at Breaking Bad related materials all day, but the space was so small and crowded that I was in and out of there in fifteen minutes (and that was with reading all the placards and watching a little of the behind the scenes video).
Now we all know that I am a rule follower, but that doesn’t mean that because I was prohibited from taking pictures that photos don’t exist. Business Insider did a short article on the exhibition and their photographer did a nice job of capturing everything:
Not pictured but also in the exhibition: Walt’s copy of Leaves of Grass and Gale’s notebook.
With my mission now complete, I was free to wander around the rest of the museum in a leisurely fashion. The core exhibition is called Behind the Screen and features costumes, set designs and models, make-up and old film and television cameras, as well as a collection of licensed merchandise (dolls, lunch boxes, toys, etc.) connected to cinema and television.
I was also delighted to find that the Museum also has a small collection of vintage video games. The collection is not as large as the one at the Museum of Play and didn’t include any pinball machines, but I did buy a few tokens to try my hand at Frogger and Pac Man. I was once again disappointed that Space Invaders game was broken, but that was probably for the best as I would have spent way too much time and money on it. Space Invaders was my jam back in the day.
I also discovered that on the first floor that one of their visiting exhibitions, Cut Up , was devoted to mashups, supercuts, political parodies and the like. If you read my biweekly Pop Culture Odds and Ends roundups, you are well aware of how much I enjoy a good mashup. The clips that they selected were fun to watch, though some of them I was already familiar with from my Internet surfing. All of the clips that are featured are also available on line at the exhibition’s page on the Museum of the Moving Image’s website. You can peruse them yourself to see what strikes your fancy, but I particularly enjoyed the “Fargo Yeah” supercut, the “Kramer’s Entrance Supercut,” the recut trailer that creates “Brokeback to the Future,” “Walt Disney’s Taxi Driver” and the mashup of MC Hammer and the Black Eyed Peas, “Would you Like To Touch My Boom Boom Humps?”
Though the Breaking Bad exhibition didn’t quite live up to my lofty expectations, I’m still glad that I went to The Museum of the Moving Image. If I hadn’t gone to the exhibition, I would have wondered if I missed anything truly awesome. And while the scale of the exhibition was much more limited than I would have hoped, there were still some pretty cool things to check out. Seeing Heisenberg’s outfit and the poor pink bear was something that I’m glad I was able to do. I don’t know when another opportunity to see props from the show will come around, so I’m glad that I grabbed the proverbial brass ring. I’d go back to The Museum of the Moving Image for another exhibition; the $12 admittance fee was very fair and I didn’t check out any of the screenings that are included in the ticket price. So while I am ultimately very glad that I paired this trip with the LEGO exhibition in Times Square, it was worth the journey to Astoria to pay the Museum a visit. Besides, how many people can say that they have seen a pair of Walter White’s tighty whities in person?
The exhibition, From Mr. Chips to Scarface: Walter White’s Transformation in Breaking Bad, runs until October 27th.