The Rain Room was a MoMA art installation, built in a temporary building adjacent to the museum, and from its opening in May, it drew huge crowds. Inside this temporary building was a room where it is constantly raining. Constantly, that is, except for the sensors in the room that detected people and “paused” the rain above them. In effect, you’re walking through a downpour but coming out entirely dry.
It sounded neat. But girlfriend and I had put off going because of the long, long wait. People had been standing in line for between 4-5 hours with no guarantee that they’d actually get in. But with the exhibit closing in less than a week, we decided to brave the crowds.
We arrived at MoMA at 10am bearing the free Snapples some overeager teens in Snapple t-shirts handed us. The best decision we made all day came when I bought a MoMA membership. We were able to bypass the general admission line and jump right in with the members. Even better, girlfriend got herself a $5 ticket, saving us about $20. Best of all, for the next year I get free access to MoMA. For all that, fifty bucks didn’t seem so bad.
The members’ line didn’t seem that long. It was a winding queue, and we were only four rows deep. Of course, I had no idea how “fast” the line would move. While the museum asked guests to keep their visit to under 10 minutes, the artists had insisted that no set time limit be imposed, meaning that people could stay in the rain as long as they liked. So we were in for a wait, which wasn’t exactly unexpected. I pulled out my Harlan Coben book, while the girlfriend tried to get into the two books she brought with her.
There was a Dutch mother with her two small daughters waiting just in front of us, and they were hilarious. One girl refused to wear her Crocs, leaving them behind several times as the line inched forward. It seems she really just didn’t want to be in clothes at all, as she tried more than once to pull her dress over her head. Her older sister, being very older-sistery, would chastise her, then weave around strangers and take off her own shoes.
The girls behind us were the first people in the general admissions line. They’d gotten up at 2am and gotten in line at 6. By the time they’d gotten behind us, they’d already been waiting for more than four hours. Yes, I felt bad for them. I also felt smarter than them, not just for buying a membership, but for not having to take four hours to get up and get ready to stand in a line.
Around 12:30, the sky opened up with a downpour of irony. Girlfriend and I tried to share an umbrella—more or less successfully—while we and everyone around us laughed at the silliness of trying desperately to stay dry while waiting to go into a building full of rain. Thankfully, the rain didn’t last very long, and the sun came out in full force for the last hour and a half of waiting, which finally ended at 2:30.
Inside the Rain Room building, the first thing you notice is the sound of the rain. The second thing is the *&$# second line. It was much shorter, though, and it offered us the chance to watch other people in the rain. The gallery assistants explained that to keep dry, you need to move slowly, advice that was immediately disregarded by the two little Dutch girls. The younger girl immediately started running through the rain. She would get wet, freak out a bit, then run to her mother and cling damply to her leg. The older one chided her sister, then immediately got just as wet, until they were simply dripping as they left.
It was finally our turn. The Rain Room was, as I had hoped, neat. Being surrounded by rain but staying (almost) entirely dry ended up being more interesting than I had expected. It got even more interesting when the entire exhibit stopped working. A few clunks, a hiccup, and the roar of the room became silence peppered with groans. The gallery assistants moved us all to the sides, and we had to wait for the rain to start again.
Honestly, if we hadn’t waited for five hours just to get into this rain room, we might have left. But after the waiting, the sun, the rain, and the membership, I think we would have stayed overnight. I passed the time coming up with alternate names for the Rain Room, like the Drizzle Space or the Moist Cubby. Luckily, the water came on after only about ten minutes, as those were the only two names I came up with.
A few more pictures, and we left the rain room and made our way back home. The experience did take most of the day, but there was a lot of fun to go with it. The room itself was a unique experience, and we got some great photos. The other people in line were fun too, especially the dripping-wet Dutch girls and the marathon line-standers from Jersey. It was another one of those experiences that living in New York gave us the opportunity to enjoy.
Plus, we got gyros on the way home!