New York's Museum of Modern Art re-opens its doors post extensive renovation

 
October 25, 2019
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City opened its expanded campus on October 21, 2019, with a new and reimagined presentation of modern and contemporary art. The $450 million expansion, developed by MoMA with architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, adds more than 40,000 sqft of gallery spaces, and enables the Museum to exhibit significantly more art in new and inter-disciplinary ways.

"Inspired by Alfred Barr's original vision to be an experimental museum in New York, the real value of this expansion is not just more space, but space that allows us to rethink the experience of art in the Museum," says Glenn D. Lowry, The David Rockefeller Director of the Museum of Modern Art. "We have an opportunity to re-energise and expand upon our founding mission - to welcome everyone to experience MoMA as a laboratory for the study and presentation of the art of our time, across all visual arts."

The gallery space for MoMA now increases by 30 percent, providing visitors a more welcoming and comfortable experience, and with a better connect of the Museum to the urban fabric of Midtown Manhattan. Starting in 2014, the first phase of renovations on the east end finished in 2017, and the second phase of expansion on the west end is now open to the public since October 2019.

The overall expansion yields a net increase in MoMA's gallery space of one third, to approximately 165,000 sqft. The design optimises current spaces to be more flexible and technologically sophisticated, expands and opens up the main lobby into a light-filled, double-height space that connects seamlessly between West 53rd and 54th streets, and creates a multitude of circulation routes with more areas for visitors to pause and reflect.

The main entrance at level 1, with a new custom entry canopy, welcomes visitors into a double height lobby and ticketing area from 53rd street, with an uninterrupted view between 53rd and 54th street. This primary entrance is complimented by a secondary entrance in the east, while the open lobby is equipped to host installations of art on a ground floor free and open to all.

The 5,950-sqft flagship Museum store is located at the cellar level, open to the lobby area above, and allows the reconfigured lobby to be visually connected to the street.

The 3,900 sqft street-level galleries include the dedicated Projects Gallery, and are free and open to all on the expanded ground floor. The double-height Projects Gallery (26'- 6") is responsive to variable media and scale. The clear glass facade, and these new street-level galleries, and an open to all ground floor offers increased transparency and brings art closer to people on the streets of Manhattan.

On the second floor, the 1,600 sqft Crown Creativity Lab, designed by Gensler, is an experimental, creative space programmed by the Education Department to explore ideas, questions, and art processes. A large pivoting wall for projections and pinups, as well as full height storage walls, support MoMA's dynamic educational programmes.

The more than 40,000 sqft of gallery space being added in the western portion of the building enables MoMA to realise a long-held aspiration to present significantly more of its collection through a series of fluid, interconnected narratives of modern and contemporary art across all mediums.

The existing galleries on the second, fourth, and fifth floors have been expanded westward through the new David Geffen Wing inside the 53W53 building designed by Jean Nouvel, adding approximately 11,500 sqft per floor.

At level four and five, the 2,000 sqft Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis Studio is the world's first dedicated space for performance, process, and time-based art centrally integrated within the galleries of a major museum. Here, performance, dance, music, and sound works connect to the stories of modern and contemporary art. This state-of-the-art Studio in the heart of the Museum and the innovative second-floor Creativity Lab invites visitors to connect with art that explores new ideas about the present, past and future.

The 31-foot, double-height black box space can accommodate a range of seating and staging scenarios with a maximum seating capacity of 105 and a 20' deep stage. At the sixth floor lies the 3,600 sqft cafe, an ideal place for casual refreshments and dining, as well as an opportunity for site-specific art installation on the Museum's highest floor.

Enhancing vertical circulation, completed during the first phase of renovation, the historic Bauhaus stair has also been extended to the ground level to restore and boost access to the second and third-floor galleries.

The 53rd Street facade is conscious of the Museum's architectural history in the existing Goodwin and Stone, Johnson, and Taniguchi buildings but shaped by the new demands of its adjoining spaces behind.

A general chronological spine unites the three floors and serves as a touchstone of continuity for visitors. Individual galleries, some of which are medium-specific, will delve into presentations of art and ideas.

The architectural expression is a restrained conversation between the existing palette and new materials within The Museum of Modern Art. The design taps into the historic DNA of the building, relating disparate elements through a series of strategic interventions that reflect aspects of 20th century modernism: purity of material expression, abstraction of space, and thinness. Synthesis is achieved with a minimalist use of materials, which correlate with the existing building fabric.

Stir
by Meghna Mehta