In November of 2014 the Forbes Gallery located at 62 Fifth Ave. shuttered its doors. The Gallery was one of the city’s best-kept secrets known more by tourists than NYers, as Richard Shepard in 1991 suggested for the NY Times,
“New Yorkers … do not get to the Forbes Magazine Galleries in Manhattan as often as out-of-towners beat a path to the door of this sleeper of a museum.”
That, written in 1991, would prove true even through the emerging era of social media and handheld-supercomputer mobility. Most art-going NYers and museum lovers I’ve met never knew of the place or its collection, listed on Wikipedia to include “a number of Faberge Eggs, an armada of 500 ships and 12,000 toy soldiers.”
Sally Holmes from NY Mag wrote for the gallery’s Entertainment attraction listing,
Located on the ground floor of the Forbes building, the galleries feature permanent exhibits as well as rotating exhibitions from Forbes magazine’s collection of fine art and vintage items, as well as special shows on loan from other museums and collections. Included in the permanent collection is an assortment of over 500 tin, cast iron, and paper toy boats; an army of several thousand toy soldiers; and a hodgepodge of over 175 trophies collected from flea markets and pawn shops, including a plaque rewarding the best White Leghorn chickens at the Northamptonshire Egg Laying Trials. Also on display: a collection of Monopoly boards, including an early 1920 version called “The Landlord’s Game,” and the world’s first proper Monopoly board, a circular creation handmade by Charles Darrow around 1933.
I first visited the Gallery in February 2004 while in NYC for an academic conference, and shot these horrible-by-my-standards photos of the Gallery’s collection (including an image of the aforementioned round Monopology board); I have since taken more-better photos but they’re either not on my Flickr or not properly tagged in Picasa (there’s also a two-year dead zone in my archives from mid-2004 to 2006 that have yet to be sorted, so they could be in there):
I also uncovered this short video from 2004 of a table landscape surrounded by a rotating moat of model ship boats:
I would return in 2011 with the intent to take still-better photos, but that day the Gallery was closed for unknown reasons. However while there I did shoot this video of the lobby’s main piece, a marble sculpture by George Rhoads:
According to Rhoads’ own Creative Machines catalog PDF the piece was titled, Wallpiece VI and measured 3′ x 5′ x 6″.
The Forbes Gallery was amazing. But now even the forbesgalleries.com website has since been shut down, and there’s no telling what happened to the primary collection of toys, ships, games, and Faberge Eggs – or that Creative Machine!
I was recently in the area and decided to actually see what the interior looked like. Indeed, it’s all over; what used to look like this now looks like: