Three million art lovers walk through the doors of New York’s MoMA each year. And now, they’re in for a special treat thanks to an exhaustive renovation and reimagining of the galleries that will open to the public on October 21, 2019. The renovation and expansion was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, and increases the museum’s gallery space by 30%. As the second-most visited museum in New York City—the Metropolitan Museum of Art takes home top billing—the public has been anxiously awaiting this opening since MoMA shut its doors in June to complete the work.
The $450-million expansion, which took place over five years, is the newest in a long line of renovations that have shaped the iconic museum since it opened at 53rd Street in 1939. The project was first announced in 2014 and Diller Scofidio + Renfro—the firm behind Hudson Yards’ The Shed–had the difficult task of seamlessly weaving together different spaces. This includes new galleries in the home of the former American Folk Art Museum as well as opening up the main lobby in order to connect the space between West 53rd and 54th Streets.
A new clear glass facade opens up the building, allowing light to pour in for better visibility and for pedestrians to get a glimpse of what awaits inside. Aimed at giving the space an enhanced flow, the new interior has a multitude of places for visitors to connect with art. This includes a state-of-the-art Studio in the heart of the museum and an innovative second-floor Creativity Lab.
“Inspired by Alfred Barr’s original vision to be an experimental museum in New York, the real value of this expansion is not just more space, but space that allows us to rethink the experience of art in the Museum,” said Glenn D. Lowry, The David Rockefeller Director of The Museum of Modern Art. “We have an opportunity to re-energize and expand upon our founding mission—to welcome everyone to experience MoMA as a laboratory for the study and presentation of the art of our time, across all visual arts.”
In tandem with the reimagining of the architecture, MoMA’s staff have injected new energy into the collection filled with iconic works of art by Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollock, and Warhol. The curatorial staff has worked tirelessly to update the installation and bring it into the 21st century by injecting more artwork both by women and lesser-known artists from outside of Western Europe and North America. In fact, 28% of the art on display when the doors open will be by female artists, and 21% by lesser-known artists.
This curatorial decision moves through the entire building, including the new David Geffen wing. Housed inside star architect Jean Nouvel’s 53W53 building, the wing has 40,000 square feet of brand new gallery space dedicated entirely to the display of art. The additional space will bring the number of objects on display at any one time up to 2,400—a huge jump from the 1,000-object capacity prior to the renovation.
It’s an exciting prospect for modern and contemporary art lovers wondering just what sort of hidden gems reside in MoMA’s storage. Coupled with the additional exhibition space, there are plans to slowly rotate the galleries every six to nine months. This means that by 2022, each of the galleries across the museum’s second, fourth, and fifth floors will have changed at least once.
While this might make it difficult for educators who are used to bringing their students to specific rooms, it’s an incredible opportunity to learn more about the history of art in different contexts. Of course, works like Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Van Gogh’s Starry Night will always be on show. But, how they are presented and which works will be hung alongside them will give visitors a new way to think about these classic paintings.