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Sep032013

Undergraduate Spends a Night at the Museum

On most nights this summer, Taylor Jones (B.F.A. Fashion ’14) slept in Willoughby Hall on Pratt’s Brooklyn campus—but not August 15.

Instead, Jones experienced her own Night at the Museum when she lived for 24 hours in a micro-unit in the Museum of the City of New York. The unit was part of the exhibition Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers, which examines the city’s demographic changes, the growth in single households, and forward-thinking architecture for an increasingly congested city.

Taylor Jones (B.F.A. Fashion '14) and fellow Museum of the City of New York intern Emily Theakston stand in the micro-unit where they stayed for 24 hours this summer.

Jones participated in a several-day demonstration, in which different people stayed in the 250-square-foot apartment—with custom furniture—to test what it would be like to live there. Jones and another participant, both summer interns at the Museum, experienced the unit as roommates.

Although there were numerous museum interns, Jones and her partner were chosen because they were “creative and artistic” and were encouraged to work on personal projects—Jones drew fashion illustrations—when not otherwise occupied in the micro-unit. 

They not only slept in the apartment, they fielded questions from reporters and engaged museum visitors in conversations about the past and future of New York housing. Their role was two-fold: resident and host—and it started at the crack of dawn. 

The morning she stayed in the micro-unit, Jones woke up when a New York Times reporter even called her at 5 AM.

“He had called me earlier and we had spoken, but I hadn’t yet lived in the unit, so he called me at five to get a perspective on it—and then I went back to bed. As a Pratt student, I’m used to being awake at five in the morning,” says Jones.

After the Museum opened, Jones stayed in the apartment, speaking to more press and visitors and demonstrating the micro-unit’s transformable space and multi-functional furniture, like a coffee table that can be turned into seating for four people.

“The best part of [the experience] was just interacting with people because there was such a wide range of reactions,” says Jones. In particular, she recalls a conversation between a mother and her adult son about the heightened demand for housing in New York.

“The mom said ‘I had a palace to myself in west Greenwich thirty years ago.’ And the son lives in Harlem with three roommates in a really small space. So it was interesting to see the change in the dynamics there.’”

The exhibition, which was supposed to close on Labor Day Weekend, was extended to September 15 due to popular demand.

Text: Ruth Samuelson
Photos: Courtesy of Resource Furniture and Clei & Museum of the City of New York

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