MoMA to Close, Then Open Doors to More Expansive View of ArtFebruary 5, 2019 | In the Press
From The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/05/arts/design/moma-museum-renovation.html)
As the Museum of Modern Art begins the final stage of its $400 million overhaul, it will close for four months this summer and autumn to reconfigure its galleries, rehang the entire collection and rethink the way that the story of modern and contemporary art is presented to the public.
The Picassos and van Goghs will still be there, but the 40,000 square feet of additional space will allow MoMA to focus new attention on works by women, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and other overlooked artists like Shigeru Onishi, a Japanese experimental photographer, or Hervé Télémaque, a Haitian-born painter who is now 81.
With the doors closed from June 15 to Oct. 21, the museum will give up summer tourism revenue in the interest of creating a new MoMA that will abandon the discipline-based display system it has used for eight decades.
Three floors of exhibition space will retain a spine of chronology, but the museum will now mix media, juxtaposing painting, sculpture, architecture, design, photography, performance, film and works on paper.
“A new generation of curators is discovering the richness of what is in our collection, and there is great work being made around the world that we need to pay attention to,” said Glenn D. Lowry, director of the museum. “It means that the usual gets supplanted now by the unexpected.”
MoMA is announcing these changes and others on Tuesday. In another marked shift, the museum will rotate a selection of art in its galleries every six to nine months and draw all of the opening exhibitions from its permanent collection — an acknowledgment that there is no single or complete history of modern and contemporary art and that many of MoMA’s holdings have historically been overlooked.
As a result, while visitors will still be able to count on highlights like Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” they are also likely to be exposed to less familiar names, including Okwui Okpokwasili, an Igbo-Nigerian-American artist, performer and choreographer.
The renovation — designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler — will include additional space from the demolished American Folk Art Museum. Existing galleries will also expand west through 53W53, the new residential skyscraper designed by Jean Nouvel.
The museum will reopen with a survey of Latin American art, along with exhibitions by two African-American artists: Pope.L, known for his provocative performances, and Betye Saar, 92, whose collages and assemblages have often flown under the radar.
“We don’t want to forget our roots in terms of having the greatest Modernist collection,” Leon Black, the museum’s chairman, said, “but the museum didn’t emphasize female artists, didn’t emphasize what minority artists were doing, and it was limited on geography.” He added, “Where those were always the exceptions, now they really should be part of the reality of the multicultural society we all live in.”
MoMA is also announcing a new partnership that will allow the Studio Museum in Harlem to present exhibitions at MoMA while its own building on 125th Street is under construction. The first exhibition at the “Studio Museum at MoMA” will feature the Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage. Thelma Golden, the Studio Museum’s director, will curate. The Armitage exhibition will be presented in MoMA’s new Projects Gallery on the expanded ground floor which, along with the street-level gallery of architecture and design, will be free to the public.
Ms. Golden described the partnership as “a new paradigm for collaboration that looks at the different ways institutions can come together,” adding that it was meaningful to follow in the footsteps of the former MoMA curator, Kynaston McShine. Mr. McShine, who died last year, started MoMA’s Projects series in the 1970s and “made it possible for me to see myself as a curator,” Ms. Golden said, “to understand my possibilities.”
Mr. Lowry said the collaboration also allows MoMA “to expand our knowledge about a range of artists we may only be vaguely familiar with.”
During its last renovation in 2004, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, MoMA moved to temporary space in Queens for two years. Because the museum will be closed for a shorter period this time, Mr. Lowry said relocation would be unnecessary.
Asked about the financial cost of the hiatus, he said the museum had budgeted to prepare for lost revenue (MoMA PS 1 will remain open). In the last few years MoMA has received what Mr. Lowry once called “the kind of gifts you only dream about,” namely $100 million from the entertainment mogul David Geffen. On Tuesday, MoMA will announce yet another: more than $200 million from the estate of David Rockefeller, the philanthropist and banker, who died in 2017.
The impact on tourism of a summer without MoMA remains to be seen. Fred Dixon, NYC & Company’s president and chief executive, said, “Because so much will be on offer this year, we don’t anticipate seeing any negative tourism impact.”
In the new MoMA, some individual galleries will still be medium-specific — but visitors will find several possible routes through the expanded museum.
They will also find a new two-story Studio for live and experimental programming, including performance, dance, music, moving image and sound works. Another new space, the second-floor Platform, will be a place for visitors to make art and join conversations. “We’re trying to make a visit to the museum a comfortable, enjoyable experience that lets you move back and forth from looking at art to talking about art to thinking about art,” Mr. Lowry said.
The new museum will open earlier, at 10 a.m.; extend its hours to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month; and include a reconfigured Museum store . Member benefits will include a new dedicated entrance and coat check and 9:30 a.m. entry. A redesigned lobby aims to improve circulation, and new lounges to signal welcome.
The new regular rotation of art means that 30 percent of the galleries will have changed in one year and the entire gallery space will have been re-choreographed by 2022.
“At any given moment,” Mr. Lowry said, “there will be something new to see.”