29 October 2019
MoMA=New York. Or rather, the museum flows into the city. This is the real essence of the latest major revamp of the temple to modern art, which has been expanded to further strengthen its dialogue with the Big Apple, and bring the two even closer together. It will be able to house a larger number of works (+1000) and visitors (+500,000 expected), making visits and time spent within its spaces even easier, more visitor-friendly and stimulating.
The Museum of Modern Art – known as MoMA – is a place that has never stopped growing, evolving and rethinking itself. In this way it is furthering its original mission, which is to be an educational institution, precisely as its three women founders – Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan – had envisioned and brought to fruition, and how its first director, Alfred Barr, who wanted to make it into a proper experimental museum, ran it.
The expansion scheme, which saw the inauguration of the final phase on 21st October, is the latest of many such interventions, the most significant of which were those carried out by Philip Johnson with the new Sculpture Garden 1953 and the creation of the East and Garden Wings and a new atrium in 1964; Cesar Pelli’s new West Wing and 56-storey residential Museum Tower in 1984; and the last-but-one by Yoshio Taniguchi to mark the 75th anniversary of the museum, which involved the creation of the second-floor atrium and the glass and granite façade that has entered the collective imagination.
This famous institution now boasts new rooms, galleries, corridors, atriums and terraces that correspond overall to another third of the previous volumetry. The expansion, by American studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, is designed to inject new energy into the building and allow even more visitors to experiment with and experience the museum as a laboratory first and foremost and – the real value and focus of the project – to enjoy an interactive and interdisciplinary approach to art. The works will no longer be split into periods and movements but into interrelated and overarching themes and more space will be given over to lesser-known artists and less well-represented art forms, while the selection of works on exhibit in the galleries will change more frequently, with 30% of the works being turned around each year.
As well as the great double-height central atrium linking 53rd and 54th Streets, at the heart of the intervention is the Studio, a dedicated space for the programmes, performance and time-based contemporary culture. The Creativity Lab on the second floor will invite the public to connect with new visions of the past, present and future. The scheme also took in the galleries at street level, now open and free to the public, connecting the museum more comfortably and directly to the city, thus making art increasingly accessible to the general public. The flagship museum store has also been altered and moved down a floor, while remaining fully visible from street level, thanks to a spectacular large glass wall. There is also a new sixth-floor cafe with a large terrace, which is already proving to be a new metropolitan magnet.
Last but not least, an elegant translucid black facade acts as a gentle filter for the sunlight, leaving only the stair block visible, in a harmonious dialogue with the original body of the building.
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues