May 12, 2016

23 Reasons to Visit the McNay's Coney Island Exhibition

Fitting for the locale that introduced the nation to roller coasters, Coney Island has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Marked by devastating fires, ambitious reinventions and hefty doses of crime and prostitution, the beachfront destination earned a reputation as both “America’s Playground” and “Sodom by the Sea.” Home to the weathered wooden roller coaster the Coney Island Cyclone (opened in 1927), Charles Hermann’s iconic Wonder Wheel (opened in 1920) and the Coney Island History Project Exhibition Center (opened in 2004), the legendary landmark comes to light locally via “Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861-2008,” a touring show making the McNay its sole Southwestern stop. Organized by Connecticut’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and on view through September 11, the exhibition explores Coney Island not just as a place but as “an idea” that courses through more than 140 objects — from circus posters and sideshow banners to carousel animals and photographs by the likes of Diane Arbus and Walker Evans.
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Strobridge Lithographing Company, The Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth / The Great Coney Island Water Carnival / Remarkable Head-Foremost Dives from Enormous Heights into Shallow Depths of Water, c. 1898
Strobridge Lithographing Company, The Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth / The Great Coney Island Water Carnival / Remarkable Head-Foremost Dives from Enormous Heights into Shallow Depths of Water, c. 1898
Steeplechase Funny Face
Steeplechase Funny Face
Marie Roberts, A Congress of Curious Peoples, 2005
Marie Roberts, A Congress of Curious Peoples, 2005
Requiem for a Dream, production still, directed by Darren Aronofsky, 2000
Requiem for a Dream, production still, directed by Darren Aronofsky, 2000
Homer Page, Coney Island, July 30, 1949
Homer Page, Coney Island, July 30, 1949
Arnold Mesches, Anomie 1991: Winged Victory, 1991,
Arnold Mesches, Anomie 1991: Winged Victory, 1991,
Milton Avery, The Steeplechase, Coney Island, 1929
Milton Avery, The Steeplechase, Coney Island, 1929
Reginald Marsh, Wooden Horses, 1936
Reginald Marsh, Wooden Horses, 1936
Reginald Marsh, Pip and Flip, 1932
Reginald Marsh, Pip and Flip, 1932
Henry Koerner, The Barker’s Booth 1948–49
Henry Koerner, The Barker’s Booth 1948–49