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El Museo del Barrio's galleries reopen after a 10-month renovation with two new shows that exemp

After a 10-month renovation, El Museo del Barrio's galleries are finally reopening.

And now that the museum has upgraded the lighting and climate control in its ground-floor exhibition space, it's welcoming two new shows that exemplify its spirit.

"Liliana Porter: Other Situations" is the fifth retrospective in El Museo's series dedicated to women artists, featuring the full breadth of the Argentine-born Porter's work.

Untitled (Man Painting Chair III), 2015, Liliana Porter

Many of Porter's early pieces are stark contemplations of space as it relates to the human body–for example, a mural of a large circle that looks like it was drawn by a hand in a photograph. Newer works include miniature toy figurines working on human-appropriate tasks, filling the galleries with magical scenes.

El Museo's other show, "Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography," shines the spotlight on a group of 10 Latino photographers who have captured what curator E. Carmen Ramos calls the "urban crisis" that developed in post-war America's cities as wealthier people fled to the suburbs.

"Hydrant: In the Air," 1963, Hiram Maristany

"Hydrant: In the Air," 1963, Hiram Maristany, courtesy of El Museo del Barrio

New Yorkers are sure to recognize many of the neighborhoods captured in the pictures, including the South Bronx, Harlem, Washington Heights, Manhattan Valley, and El Barrio itself.

Particular scenes may even still seem familiar, from Hiram Maristany's black-and-white images of New York kids playing under a gushing hydrant to Winston Vargas' photographs of men in Washington Heights playing dominoes.

"65 East 125th Street, Harlem," 1977, Camilo José Vergara
"65 East 125th Street, Harlem," 2016, Camilo José Vergara

"65 East 125th Street, Harlem," 1977 (top) and 2016 (bottom), Camilo José Vergara, courtesy of El Museo del Barrio

Familiar or not, it's hard not to stare in shock at Camilo José Vergara's 21 photographs of the same East Harlem storefront taken over the last 40 years. If you want to see urban change in overdrive, look no further.

"Liliana Porter: Other Situations" and "Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography" open Thursday, September 13 at El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave.

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