Image of a banner promoting the LIC Art Bus (courtesy the Socrates Sculpture Park)

Image of a banner promoting the LIC Art Bus (courtesy the Socrates Sculpture Park)

It’s no secret that Long Island City art institutions have long had problems drumming up foot traffic to their spaces in western Queens, but four of them have joined forces because they believe a shuttle bus may just help. O, art lovers of Queens, hail the LIC Art Bus!

(map by Hyperallergic)

(map by Hyperallergic)

While the name isn’t catchy (at all), the concept is attractive. Starting this Saturday, May 10 at noon, the LIC Art Bus will transport art lovers between Socrates Sculpture Park, The Noguchi Museum, SculptureCenter, and MoMA PS1.

All four institutions, while internationally renowned, have long had problems attracting visitors to their doors. The largest institution in the foursome, MoMA PS1, attracted 150,000 visitors (2009), while the Noguchi Museum welcomed 26,000 visitors (2012) a year, the SculptureCenter 13,000 (2012), and the Socrates Sculpture Park, which is an open-air park, does not have any publicly available numbers. As a point of comparison, the Queens Museum attracted 98,000 visitors in 2013.

The free service is made possible by Shelley and Donald Rubin, who the New York Times reported last year:

… are an anomaly among major donors because they devote much of their largess to organizations outside Manhattan, where the budgets are lean, the profiles low and the opportunities to encounter celebrities or society photographers exceedingly rare.

Kudos to the Rubins, whom Tom Finkelpearl, the former head of the Queens Museums and the city’s new cultural commissioner, called “definitely not cookie-cutter philanthropists.” And yes, these are the same Rubins of the Rubin Museum of (Himalayan) Art fame. In case you were wondering how the Rubins made their money, Donald Rubin was the founder of MultiPlan, Inc., a private managed-care medical provider.

The LIC Art Bus will run on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for 19 consecutive weekends (May 10 through September 14) between 12 and 6pm. The service is particularly needed for the Socrates Sculpture Park and The Noguchi Museum, which are both roughly a mile from the closest subway, and in light of MTA’s plans to close the 7 train for several weekends throughout the summer.

A full schedule is available at each stop and online, with up-to-the-minute updates, at The bus will be open to all on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.