Under the helm of architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, MoMA’s expansion of its Goodwin and Stone, Johnson, and Taniguchi-designed buildings opened in October with an additional 40,000-square-feet of gallery space. Created in support of innovative and interdisciplinary exhibits, it will feature live programming and performances that “react to, question and challenge histories of modern art and the current cultural moment,” revealed the museum spokespeople.
Announced in 2014 with the first phase finishing in 2017, the 30 per cent increase in space aims to reinforce the connection between the cultural and urban fabric of Manhattan. Comprised of street-level galleries, a main space called The Studio, there is also a second floor Creativity Lab that has a more educational and engagement-oriented slant for the public. With the intent to not only increase its capacity but also refresh its approach, MoMA’s existing spaces were updated to be more flexible and technologically sophisticated: new routes were opened for visitors to meander more intuitively through the spaces as well as from the street into museum.
Along with the reconfiguration of three floors, on the east side of the midtown museum, its historic Bauhaus staircase was extended to reach the ground level and a new first floor lounge was added to face the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. The west side, which expands through the new David Geffen wing inside the Jean Nouvel-designed structure, sees the Design and Book Store lowered one floor and made visible to passers-by via a large glass wall, and the main lobby opened up to increase the amount of light. Space was also increased to create a double height ceiling to help relieve the sensation of congestion within the heavily visited institution. With visitor comfort firmly in mind, the architects have also incorporated connectors to link galleries between both sides the museum, as well as channels to gain direct access to the flagship museum store or the viewing halls.
Interior view of The Museum of Modern Art, Blade Stair
The renovations will allow the public to gain access to a significantly larger portion of MoMA’s collection, a goal it has long worked towards. Visitors can anticipate surprise and discovery through reimagined hangings which offer deeper, broader, more complex and further diversified presentations across all mediums. To celebrate and mark this achievement, the museum announced that it will devote itself in 2019 to exhibitions and installations exclusively from its collection.
“Our curators and the architectural team have spent more than two years in conversations about the nature of our collection, the history of our installations, the continually changing nature of art, and our opportunities and responsibilities for engaging our audiences,” said MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry in a statement after the completion of the first phase of the project. “The outcome of these discussions is a design that accommodates a global view and new perspectives on modern and contemporary art, and that embodies the metabolic and self-renewing nature of our institution.”
Images courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
From Harper's Bazaar Arabia Art Winter 2019 issue