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New York’s MoMA Reveals Designs for $400 Million Expansion Project

The Museum of Modern Art in New York revealed the final designs for its $400 million expansion project on Thursday, June 1. The transformation, which will add 30 percent more gallery space and revamp the main lobby, will also enable the institution to reevaluate its approach to presenting exhibitions.

“It’s a rethinking of how we were originally conceived,” director Glenn D. Lowry told Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times. “We had created a narrative for ourselves that didn’t allow for a more expansive reading of our own collection, to include generously artists from very different backgrounds.”

The museum’s narrative has previously been defined by discipline, with each floor representing a different medium—its second floor includes prints and illustrated books and its third floor is divided into architecture and design, drawings, and photography. It has begun moving toward mounting chronological and thematic exhibitions across media, which can be seen in its current show “Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction,” featuring paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, prints, textiles, and ceramics (Artforum senior editor Prudence Peiffer recently covered the show for an online Critic’s Pick).

MoMA will also focus on displaying more minority and female artists in its permanent collection galleries. It was recently applauded for showcasing works by artists from Muslim nations in an act of solidarity with the citizens of the seven countries who have been blocked from entering the United States as a result of an executive order issued by President Trump earlier this year. Previously, the institution has been criticized for exhibiting mostly established male artists.

Ann Temkin, the museum’s chief curator of paintings and sculpture, said that the new approach will allow the curators to think of the collection and “the entire presentation as a whole.”

The renovation and expansion project, which was partially made possible with a $100 million donation from philanthropist David Geffen, was developed by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. (Three floors of new galleries, part of the museum’s expansion into the tower being built to the west, at Fifty-Three West Fifty-Third Street, will be named the David Geffen Wing.) The museum’s first phase of construction, which included building two galleries on the third floor and a lounge on the first floor, and extending the historic Bauhaus staircase to ground level, has been completed.

Overall, the project will add 25 percent more public space, including another coat check area, a cafe on the second floor, a new museum store, an espresso bar overlooking the sculpture garden, and a sixth-floor lounge. MoMA will also add new street-level galleries dedicated to projects and contemporary design that will be free of charge.

While the institution will remain open throughout the duration of the overhaul, the main lobby entrance on Fifty-Third Street will be closed starting Sunday. Museumgoers will be required to enter through the Ronald and Jo Carole Lauder Administrative Building to the east.