New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has unveiled designs for a major expansion. The multi-year project will be developed with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler.
The expansion plans were discussed as MoMA completed renovation of the east end of its campus last week (June 1). The goals for the project are threefold:
• To increase gallery space, allowing the museum to exhibit significantly more of its collection in deeper, more interdisciplinary ways
• To provide MoMA visitors with a more welcoming and comfortable experience
• To better connect the Museum to the urban fabric of midtown Manhattan
Two spacious galleries on the third floor allow greater flexibility for installing the collection and special exhibitions. Pictured at the top of the page is a view of the Louise Reinhardt Smith Gallery.
An extension of the historic Bauhaus staircase to ground level restores and enhances access to the second floor galleries. In addition to a new first-floor lounge facing The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, improvements include restroom and cafe renovations plus a new store and espresso bar overlooking the Sculpture Garden.
The overall expansion, including the west side that is now under construction, will yield a net increase in MoMA’s gallery space by 30%, from 125,000 to 175,000 square feet (16,258 sq m). The design optimises current spaces and creates more areas for visitors to pause and reflect. It opens up the main lobby into a light-filled, double-height space. Intuitive new circulation routes mean the new western portion of the museum will be dedicated almost entirely to the display of art.
A stack of vertically interlocking galleries of varying heights are promised. Some will be naturally lit, some equipped for performance and film. There will be a greater use of interdisciplinary installations, as well as rotating spaces devoted to specific mediums including photography, architecture and design. To mark the opening of the expanded MoMA in 2019, the entire museum will be devoted to exhibitions and installations from its own collection.
A new era for MoMA
“The Museum of Modern Art’s renovation and expansion project will seek to reassure and surprise,” says MoMA director Glenn D Lowry. “Our curators and the architectural team have spent more than two years in conversations. The outcome of these discussions is a design that accommodates a global view and new perspectives on modern and contemporary art.”
The expansion to the west end of the site will feature engaging new street-level galleries. These will comprise of a dedicated Projects Room and a gallery for contemporary design, a new studio space for media, performance and film, and a sixth-floor lounge with an outdoor terrace facing 53rd Street. The MoMA Design and Book Store will be lowered one level and made visible to the street. The entire first floor will continue to be open to the public free of charge, including the new galleries. The existing galleries on the second, fourth and fifth floors will be expanded through the new 53W53 building designed by Jean Nouvel.
“This project has required the curiosity of an archeologist and the skill of a surgeon,” says Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. “A new circulation network will create a contiguous, free public realm that bridges street to street and art to city. The design integrates the various facets of the Museum’s architectural history, creating a distinct clear-glass façade on 53rd Street that complements the existing Goodwin and Stone, Johnson, and Taniguchi buildings and invites a more open dialogue between interior and exterior spaces.”
Design and palette choices throughout the renovation and expansion project have historic significance. The main entrance of the original Goodwin and Stone building was located in what was known as the “Bauhaus Lobby”. Architects have reinstated the connection between the ground floor and the galleries with a stair that uses the original materials of terrazzo, glass and steel, while optimising the structural design using advanced engineering capabilities. The Grand Antique marble, sourced from the Ariège region of France, also recalls the marble surround of the historic stair in the museum’s original lobby.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s work at MoMA and other institutions
Diller Scofidio + Renfro‘s independent projects have been exhibited at MoMA and at other leading cultural institutions across the globe including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Jewish Museum in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Venice Biennale, the Swiss National Exposition, Palais De Tokyo and Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris. Recent cultural projects from Gensler include the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, the Houston Ballet Center for Dance in Texas, The Broad in Los Angeles and The Clark, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
As of June 4, MoMa’s main lobby entrance on 53rd Street was closed to accommodate construction. Visitors are now directed to the lobby of the Ronald S and Jo Carole Lauder Building, which was the original entrance to the museum. Throughout the construction process, MoMA will remain open and continue to present its exhibition programme.
Images courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro