How much new life can be breathed into an 81-year-old steamship?

According to Beatrice Glow, plenty.

Over the next four weeks, the Lilac Museum Steamship, berthed at Pier 25 on the Hudson River in lower Manhattan, is home to the "Floating Library" -- a space for people to gather, read, discuss and create. The only rule on deck is to power off and stow your cell phone.


"I think everyone is just riding the wave of beauty of being off land, in a different kind of space where your body negotiates the environment," said Glow on Sunday, sitting in one of the boat's rooms turned into a children's activity area for the installation. "The beauty of re-finding balance is really an important lesson."

Glow said she drew on multiple sources for inspiration, from schools housed on boats in other countries, explorers, improvisation, Michel Foucault and the disappearance of public spaces.

"I just want to give people a chance to unplug, interface with people face to face ... that builds future partnerships and coalitions, that's how New York happened culturally," Glow said.

Books donated to the event are displayed throughout different areas of the ship, and will be donated at the end of the project.

On Sunday, the second day of the pop-up public space, woodbuilders of all age worked on grid beam projects, constructing chairs and benches that will be used in the coming month on deck.

"It's the antithesis of IKEA," said Reid Bingham, Maker Space Coordinator at the New York Hall of Science, of the reusable, modular construction designs. Bingham said the design is good for New Yorkers, especially those who move often, because the pieces can be deconstructed and reassembled, and turned into new pieces.

Upcoming events this week include a talk with Colectivo Mapocho, art activists from Chile, from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday on the ship.

More information, including a full list of events, hours and directions, is available at

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