Here's who's waiting in line for the Rain Room (slide show)

We chatted with the diehards enduring eight-hour waits (or more) for MoMA's hit summer exhibition as it nears closing.

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New Yorkers are accustomed to waiting in line (see: cronuts, the iPad mini, Shakespeare in the Park, brunch). And MoMA's Rain Room installation is yet another addition to that illustrious canon of mania-inducing NYC memes. With only two days to go until the exhibit closes, waits are topping eight hours on weekdays, and a mind-blowing 13 hours on Saturdays and Sundays, despite lukewarm reviews from the art world. (Though no art critic, this writer was underwhelmed.)


We hit the scene this morning and yesterday; here's who we met.


  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    MoMA's Rain Room closes this Sunday, July 28, at midnight.

  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    The wait is getting worse and worse. Since the Rain Room typically closes at the same time as the museum (8pm), getting there early won't even ensure you get in; the space has been reaching capacity by 9am. Today, we spoke with two somewhat naive girls who'd arrived at 11:30am, walking away from the exhibit with palpable disappointment. MoMA staff told them the line was currently 13 hours long and that they were expecting people to stay overnight. There is also a VIP list for cronut-wielders like Dominique Ansel and Owen Wilson, spotted yesterday.

  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    To endure the hours-long wait comfortably, people brought stools, chairs, umbrellas, snacks and cards.

  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    MoMA members do get a shorter wait, and shorter still is the recently added "view only" line, which lets you watch the action without going into the installation itself. Today, the wait for the viewing area was about an hour.

  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    Ndelea, 35, and Keedra, 36, teachers from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; waiting for three hours

    Time Out New York: What made you want to come here?
    Ndelea: This was [Keedra's] idea!
    Keedra: As a kid, I always wanted to dodge rain drops, so to be able to actually dodge rain drops…
    Ndelea: For me, the first reason was her. And then, I've just always liked rain. And all the excitement around it, it's cool to be part of that experience.
    Keedra: I want to be able to have a conversation about it, like, Oh yeah! We went there.

    Time Out New York: Have you ever waited this long for anything else?
    Ndelea: I have, for Alexander McQueen at the Met. I waited six hours to get in. I've never seen anything like it; it was moving in a way that I didn't know fashion could be. And then there was an exclusive interview with Anna Wintour, so we ended up waiting an additional two or three hours. I didn't know who she was at the time.

    Time Out New York: Have you bonded with other people in line?
    Keedra: Actually, yes. There was a person who had a members-only ticket and they were going to sell it to me. Ndelea had gone to the bathroom at that point—it would've cut down my wait time by, like, five hours, but I turned it down because I'm with her.

    Time Out New York: What did you bring?
    Ndelea: Well, we finished our snacks, blueberries and almonds. We brought a book to read to each other—this is short stories by J. California Cooper.

  • Photograph: Alvina Lai

    Jackie, 30, freelance flute player; Park Slope, Brooklyn; waiting for six hours

    Time Out New York: How long have you been waiting?
    Jackie: Since 9am. I think I have anywhere between one or two hours to go, but it's hard to tell. When I got on line, they said it was going to be seven hours, so they're estimating correctly.

    Time Out New York: What made you want to come to the Rain Room?
    Jackie: One, I love the rain, in general. I love MoMA. It's basically my second home. Their exhibitions like this are always mind-blowing. In every picture that I've seen online, it just looks absolutely amazing, so the chance to be able to experience it was worth waiting all day.

    Time Out New York: Have you met other people in line?
    Jackie: Oh yeah, a lot. In the beginning of the experience, everybody is excited and talking, and then you get to the point where everyone's just sitting on the ground and you're sharing food and offering to get coffee for each other, because you are in line with these people for the full day.

    Time Out New York: What are you doing to pass the time?
    Jackie: I have a book and my journal. It's such a beautiful day today, a lot of the time I've just been sitting and meditating. I came by myself.

    Time Out New York: So you had to meet people to hold your spot.
    Jackie: Exactly. But everyone's really good about it. You get to know the people around you. It's almost like you've already claimed your territory. At this point in line, you don't even need to tell people that you're leaving, because everybody knows who you are.

  • Photograph: Marley Lynch

    Stephanie, 23, nursing student; Ridgefield, New Jersey; and Kevin, 22, actor, Chelsea (brother and sister); waiting 4.5 hours

    Time Out New York: What time did you guys get here?
    Kevin: We got here at 6:45am.
    Stephanie: What time is it now? After 11am? Probably another two hours to go, I would guess. So we actually got here on time, maybe, hopefully.

    Time Out New York: What made you want to come here? What's the draw?
    Stephanie: Honestly, the Instagram photos. [Laughs] I saw a lot of cool-looking pictures, and I guess nine hours is worth a 50-plus-like Instagram photo.
    Kevin: It seemed like a fantasy to have an invisible umbrella around you.

    Time Out New York: What are you doing to pass the time?
    Kevin: We were playing some clapping games, earlier, some schoolyard games. I took a catnap in the sun, on the concrete.
    Man standing behind us: He was out cold!

    Time Out New York: Do you think it's worth it to wait in line this long?
    Stephanie: I hope so!
    Kevin: I think so, yeah. I heard it was pretty popular in London. I was here a month ago and the wait was three hours, so it's only been getting more popular. It must be for good reason.

  • Photograph: Marley Lynch

    Daria, 25, restaurant hostess; Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and Victoria, 23, medical biller; Bay Ridge, Brooklyn; waiting for 4.5 hours

    Time Out New York: When did you get here?
    Victoria: 6:30 in the morning.

    Time Out New York: Did you take work off?
    Victoria: Yeah. I took a vacation day.
    Daria: Sorry I'm not answering your questions, we just figured out we need to buy tickets and I'm trying to do that on my phone. The line to buy tickets to the museum is really long too. I can't believe we waited this long and don't have tickets.…
    Victoria: We've been drinking all night and we told our friends we were going to the museum at 5am. They told us we were fucking crazy!

  • Photograph: Marley Lynch

    Cassandra, 30, Riverdale, Bronx; and Ranjani, 24, Upper West Side; both urban planners; waiting for 3.75 hours

    Time Out New York: What time did you get here?
    Cassandra: 7am. We've gotten different estimates, but we have four to five hours left.

    Time Out New York: What have you guys been doing since 7am?
    Ranjani: Various games, got coffee, talking to people in line, bonding with people…

    Time Out New York: Did you take work off?
    Ranjani: I tried to come two weeks ago, and I came at noon and there was no getting in.
    Cassandra: Today we both had the day off. I have summer hours at my office.

    Time Out New York: What are you guys expecting once you get in?
    Cassandra: Not really sure. Expecting to get a little bit wet. I hear you get a little misted.
    Ranjani: It's supposed to be really cool. I don't really know what to expect, except for what we see in the photos!

    Time Out New York: Have you ever waited this long for anything else?
    Cassandra: Yes, but not here. I was studying abroad in Rome and the Pope died, and we waited about eight hours for his funeral. I don't usually wait—I've lived in New York for seven years now and I've kind of gotten over lines, but I just thought, Why not?

    Time Out New York: Is waiting this long for anything worth it?
    Cassandra: I don't normally do this. I don't know if I'd say it was worth it.
    Ranjani: I had actually given up, and then we talked about it and said, Okay, fine, we have someone to do it with. What else are we gonna do?

Photograph: Alvina Lai

MoMA's Rain Room closes this Sunday, July 28, at midnight.


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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)

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