TOUR // New York World’s Fair 1964

Queens Museum



Address: New York City Building
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368

Institution type: Non-Profit Organization (NPO)

Target Audience: Local Community


Tom Finkelpearl: President and Executive Director

David Strauss: Director of External Affairs and Capital Projects

Michelle Lopez: Manager, ArtAccess and Autism Initiatives

Diya Vij: Communications and Digital Media Manager

Marco Castro: Visitor Experience Manager


The Queens Museum is dedicated to presenting the highest quality visual arts and educational programming for people in the New York metropolitan area, and particularly for the residents of Queens, a uniquely diverse, ethnic, cultural, and international community.

The Museum fulfills its mission by designing and providing art exhibitions, public programs and educational experiences that promote the appreciation and enjoyment of art, support the creative efforts of artists, and enhance the quality of life through interpreting, collecting, and exhibiting art, architecture,  and design.

The Queens Museum presents artistic and educational programs and exhibitions that directly relate to the contemporary urban life of its constituents, while maintaining the highest standards of professional, intellectual, and ethical responsibility.


Brief History of the Queens Museum:

The New York City Building was built to house the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, where it featured displays about municipal agencies. The building was centrally located, being directly adjacent to the great icons of the Fair, the Trylon and Perisphere, and it was one of the few buildings created for the Fair that were intended to be permanent. It is now the only surviving building from the 1939 Fair. After the World’s Fair, the building became a recreation center for the newly created Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The north side of the building, housed a roller rink and the south side, an ice rink.



The building’s architect, Aymar Embury III designed the building in a modern classical style, which was perhaps a little ironic given that the theme of the 1939 Fair was the “World of Tomorrow.” The exterior of the building featured colonnades behind which were vast expanses of glass brick punctuated by limestone pilasters trimmed in dark polished granite.

The presence of the United Nations General Assembly from 1946 to 1950 in the building required substantial interior renovation and the addition of an annex housing the delegates’ dining room, the public cafeteria and an exhibition hall. In the interior, the skating and roller rinks were covered and, in the space now occupied by the Queens Museum’s sky-lit galleries, the General Assembly was laid out. When the United Nations left, the addition was removed and the New York City Building again became a recreation site for the Park and the skating and roller rinks were restored to the old use.

In preparation for the 1964 World’s Fair, the New York City Building was again renovated. Under the architect Daniel Chait, a scalloped entry awning was added to the east façade with concrete brise-soleil used to screen all of the areas of glass brick. The building once again housed the New York City Pavilion and the most dramatic display there was the Panorama of the City of New York. Built by Robert Moses for the 1964 Fair, in part as a celebration of the City’s municipal infrastructure, this 9,335 square foot architectural model includes every single building in all five boroughs.

ny-worlds-fair-map-back byn

As in 1939, the New York City Building was at the center of the 1964 World’s Fair. It is adjacent to the 140 foot high, 900,000 lb. steel Unisphere, that great symbol of the Fair’s theme of “Peace through Understanding.” After the Fair the Panorama remained open to the public and the south side of the building returned to being an ice rink.

In 1972, the north side of the New York City Building was handed to the Queens Museum (or as it was then known, the Queens Center for Art and Culture). Almost twenty years after it opened, the Museum undertook its first major renovation. In 1994, Rafael Viñoly significantly redesigned the existing space, creating some of the most dramatic exhibition galleries in New York.

Men in Black in Queens

In November 2013, the Queens Museum ushered in a new phase in the institution’s history, completing an expansion project that gives New York a spectacular new art venue, and provides the Museum with the space necessary to better serve its diverse communities. Since the Museum’s founding in 1972, there had been an underlying goal of occupying the entirety of the New York City Building, and now, with the design insight of Grimshaw Architects, the new Queens Museum has realized that ambition, doubling in size to 105,000 square feet, and been transformed into a nexus where the art world and real world can engage in open, meaningful dialogue.


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