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Anne Doran on the New Museum of Contemporary Art

“WHO WOULD HAVE thought,” wrote William Olander, a curator at New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art, in 1986, “even two or three years ago, that the annual budget of the organization for which I work would be over a million dollars or that its development department would number four full-time individuals, one whose sole job is to coordinate an annual benefit?”’

These words might seem quaint now, as the New Museum prepares to reopen this December in a stunning seven-floor, sixty-thousand-square-foot building—designed by the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA—on a steadily gentrifying stretch of the Bowery, but when the museum was founded in 1977 by Marcia Tucker, it had no endowment, no collection, and no home of its own. It was one of a number of alternative spaces created in the ’70s to provide venues for new and challenging work, and its mission was implicit

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