Arts and Culture, Astoria, Long Island City, Museums and Galleries
Jun 18, 2013

Today’s Ribbon Cutting for the New George S. Kaufman Courtyard at MOMI

Today we attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly completed George S. Kaufman Courtyard at the Museum of the Moving Image.

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A view of the newly completed courtyard at the Museum of the Moving Image

Earlier today we had the distinct pleasure to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly complete George S. Kaufman Courtyard at the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI). If you’ve been attending events and screenings at the museum over the years, you’ve likely gotten a glimpse or two of the courtyard, which lies just north of the museum; you can see it out the big wall of windows in the Museum’s cafe. It was empty for a long time, but now it’s a beautiful space with chairs, tables, trees, and light blue AstroTurf.


A view of the courtyard through the wall of windows by the Museum’s cafe

We learned that the price tag of the courtyard was $2.5 million. The City of New York provided $1.25 million, in part due to the dedicated hard work of Council Member Van Bramer, in partnership with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. An additional $1 million gift was donated by George S. Kaufman himself. Additional private contributions helped to make up the $2.5 million project cost.

A bit more about the Kaufman Courtyard, named for abovementioned philanthropist and Museum trustee George S. Kaufman:

The Kaufman Courtyard is the final chapter in the Museum’s capital expansion and renovation project, designed by Leeser Architecture. The 10,370-square-foot landscaped courtyard garden will provide space for an outdoor café, open-air screenings and exhibitions, and special events. The opening of the courtyard also benefits the more than 50,000 students who visit each year, with an off-street bus drop-off area, a dedicated entrance for school groups, and additional space for gathering.

The courtyard also offers a unique view of the Museum’s iconic rear façade, an almost 200-ft-long surface made up of 1,067 pale-blue aluminum panels, as well as a view into the Museum’s lobby, straight through to the main entrance on 35 Avenue.

There will be free WiFi in the Kaufman Courtyard (courtesy of Time Warner Cable), and by July 5 you’ll be able to eat food and drink from the cafe outside in the courtyard.

There were a number of people who spoke about the Courtyard and the importance of the Museum of the Moving Image to the cultural community of Astoria, LIC, and greater Queens. First, Jimmy Van Bramer led us as the event’s MC. He was gracious as usual and quite funny at times. Other speakers included Executive Director Carl Goodman, Mr. George Kaufman himself, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Founding Director of the museum Rochelle Slovin, and architect Thomas Leeser.


Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer


Executive Director Carl Goodman


George Kaufman, the namesake of the courtyard


Helen Marshall was truly excited! She adores the museum


Founding Director of MOMI reminisced on how the area looked in 1981 – things have changed drastically, for the better


The architect Thomas Leeser had a few words about the whole renovation/expansion process


A nice shot of George Kaufman, Helen Marshall and Hal Rosenbluth, President of Kaufman Astoria Studios

After everyone had a chance to speak, we headed out to the courtyard.


An empty Kaufman Courtyard… but not for long

Here come the ribbon cutters!


As they get ready to cut.


The ribbon is cut!


Right after the ceremony.


George Kaufman’s name is displayed on the back wall of the courtyard.


Everyone was having a nice time on a warm summer day.


Mingling in the George S. Kaufman Courtyard

For those of you who would like to check out the space sooner than later, the Kaufman Courtyard will be open this Saturday, June 22 during the Queens Art Express Block Party. The Block Party will be held on on 37 Street between 34th and 35th Avenues, just outside of the Kaufman Courtyard. Free admission to the Museum of the Moving Image will be in place that day, so this is an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with MOMI if you haven’t already. And even if you know know all about it, come on down and check out the Courtyard and all the other fun stuff happening that afternoon (1-6pm)

Big congratulations to the Museum of the Moving Image for the completion of the George S. Kaufman Courtyard!

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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