South Street Seaport Museum Slammed by Sandy

Monday’s storm devastated areas including gallery-packed Chelsea, but many New York museums have been able to spring back into action. Institutions such as the Metropolitan, MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Jewish Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Design have reopened. Downtown, the New Museum and the Rubin Museum of Art remain without power and closed, and the Studio Museum of Harlem has postponed the opening of fall exhibitions to next Sunday. But the situation is dire at the South Street Seaport Museum, which was reborn in January as part of its bailout-cum-takeover by the Museum of the City of New York.

The bright, new Schermerhorn Row space–smartly designed by architects Wendy Evans Joseph and Chris Cooper of Cooper Joseph studio–was slammed by Sandy. “It is not just that there was five feet of filthy, oil-laced surge in our lobby, wiping out the systems that run the escalator, the elevators, and the heating and air conditioning, it is not just the clean-up; it is the loss of revenue that we had been building so diligently,” wrote museum president Susan Henshaw Jones in an e-mail sent yesterday to supporters. The flood waters climbed up to the eaves of the museum’s rental tenants, a store and a restaurant that may not be able to reopen. Another tenant, Bowne & Co., Stationers, saw 217 drawers of accessioned type get soaked by the surge. Efforts to dry the type and keep it from deforming are hindered by the lack of power downtown. Meanwhile, the museum’s lobby, café, admission desk and its computer, and Museum Shop have been destroyed. Donations of any amount are now being gratefully accepted at the museum’s website.