Once frowned upon by art enthusiasts who sought out more intimate settings, a nonprofit organization called Park Avenue Armory has transformed one of New York City’s historic structures into a vibrant alternative arts venue. The Armory is devoted to the creation and presentation of visual and performing arts work that is best realized in an unconventional context. It is a hybrid of a palace and an industrial shed that aims to foster unorthodox artworks that cannot be completely realized in a regular proscenium theatre, concert hall, or white wall gallery.
Park Avenue Armory: What You Need to Know
The Armory offers a 55,000-square-foot adaptable performance space, serving as a platform for a broad spectrum of artists to create, students to experiment, and spectators to take in and enjoy large and daring productions.
The structure, which features medieval influences, served as a model for succeeding armories in New York and other cities across the country. It was designed by a veteran of the Seventh Regiment, Charles W. Clinton, who also included a substantial drill shed 200 feet by 300 feet and 80 feet tall. It is the oldest balloon shed in the country and one of New York’s largest open areas.
The Park Avenue Armory interacts with other cultural organizations and commissions independent works when offering artistic programming. The season features outstanding artistic talent in music, theatre, dance, and visual and sound art. It extends the reach of regional and worldwide artists in an unorthodox and magnificent setting of scale.
To stage its season of plays there, the Royal Shakespeare Company of London constructed a replica Globe Theatre with 975 seats over the summer of 2011. The elite Seventh Regiment of the National Guard constructed Park Avenue Armory for military and social purposes. Construction began in 1877 and took around four years to complete.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White, the Herter Brothers, and other notable members of the American Aesthetic Movement created its exquisite interiors. One of New York’s largest open spaces, the towering 55,000 square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall is reminiscent of the grand European railway sheds. The structure has been renovated after being listed ten years ago by the World Monuments Fund as one of the 100 most endangered Historic Sites in the world.
The Armory has hosted shows in the Drill Hall for as few as 100 spectators for a magnificent, socially distant dance piece by Jones last year, “Afterwardsness,” and for as many as 1,800 for the Berlin Philharmonic, with an annual budget of around $28 million. The organization also hosts lecture series, recitals, and art exhibits in smaller spaces in and outside the main hall and six major events each year. It also has a commissioning arm for artists of all genres.
In Icke’s “Hamlet,” the setting is 2022 Denmark, where security cameras capture the appearance of the ghost of Hamlet’s father and a reticent Hamlet lingers so shyly and introspectively that he seems to want to vanish—to will his too-solid body to melt. The play received mixed reviews when it debuted. At the Armory, which has gained experience through time and learned what works and what doesn’t, such aesthetically arresting adaptations occur frequently.
Visitors are encouraged to join a staff member on a guided tour of the Park Avenue Armory to see the distinctive features of this historic structure, including the towering Drill Hall and the magnificent interiors. Two rooms on the second story, as well as the beautiful Board of Officers Room and Veterans Room on the first floor, have already been repaired and remodeled per the design of Herzog & de Meuron. The 75-minute walking tour sees several second-floor spaces that aren’t often open to the public and the drill hall and first-floor period rooms.
The building’s future as a new cultural institution in New York City, new creative programming, repair and rebuilding plans, and the Armory’s military and social past will all be covered. During the trip, there are around 50 stairs; an elevator is also accessible.
To go on a tour, you need tickets. There aren’t any planned open tours right now. Booking tickets for a public tour on one of the scheduled dates is an option for groups, as is making arrangements for a private tour on a different day. Dates for private tours are based on availability.
A guided tour of the 1887–1881 Armory will transport you to the city’s heyday and the NY 7th regiment militia, which later evolved into the first National Guard unit. During this tour, you will first hear a presentation about the background and history of the building and the 7th Regiment. After that, you will visit some of the Armory’s rooms that have been fully or partially restored to their former gilded state so you can see an impressive collection of 19th-century interiors.
A sidewalk-level entry is accessible at 103 East 66th Street, which is close to Park Avenue, for people who need assistance. Customers can make plans in advance by phoning the main security desk, or they can ring the service bell when they get there.
Take 67th Street (Westbound) or Madison Avenue and 68th Street (Limited and Local) to reach 68th Street and Lexington Avenue (Eastbound).
The Park Avenue Armory is a stunning and quite exciting location where you may go to witness a performance, hear music, see art, and more. The theater seating may be reconfigured for various events and is movable. A fantastic lounge is located outside the theatre. The cost of entry is more than justified if you come here for a pre- or post-theater beverage.