Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, today revealed the completed renovation of the east end of the Museum's campus and unveiled the full design of a multi-year expansion project, developed by MoMA with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler.
The renovation of the east section, which began in February 2016 and is now complete, enhances galleries and public spaces on three floors. This initial phase of the project includes the reconfiguration of 15,000 square feet to create two spacious galleries on the third floor that allow more flexibility for installing the collection and special exhibitions; the extension of the historic Bauhaus staircase to the ground level to restore and enhance access to the second-floor galleries; and the addition of a new first-floor lounge facing The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Improvements also include renovations of the restrooms and the provision of an additional coat check at street level. On the second floor, Cafe 2 has been renovated, and is now adjacent to a new museum store and an 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 of one third, to 175,000 square feet. The design optimizes current spaces to be more flexible and technologically sophisticated, and creates more areas for visitors to pause and reflect. It enlarges and opens up the main lobby into a light-filled, double-height space and creates intuitive circulation routes through the Museum, including a connector that seamlessly links the new galleries to the renovated east side of the building. Thanks to the redesigned circulation, the new western portion of the Museum will be dedicated almost entirely to the display of art. The 30 percent increase in exhibition space includes a stack of vertically interlocking galleries of varying heights, some naturally lit, some equipped for performance and film.
The 50,000 square feet of gallery space being added in the western portion of the building will enable MoMA to realize a long-held aspiration: to present significantly more of its collection through a series of fluid, interconnected narratives of modern and contemporary art across all mediums. The new galleries will provide an opportunity to reimagine the display of the Museum's collection and showcase its depth, breadth, complexity, and diversity through a greater use of interdisciplinary installations, while also having 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 the collection.
"The Museum of Modern Art's renovation and expansion project will seek to reassure and surprise," Glenn D. Lowry said. "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. 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."
The expansion to the west end of the site will feature engaging new street-level galleries comprised of a dedicated Projects Room and a gallery for contemporary design, a new fully customized 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 through a dramatic glass wall, and the building will be more open and directly woven into the fabric of midtown Manhattan. 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 westward through the new 53W53 building designed by Jean Nouvel, adding 11,500 square feet per floor.
"This project has called on us to work across MoMA's rich architectural history, incorporating the Museum's existing building blocks into a comprehensible whole through careful and deliberate interventions into previous logics, as well as the construction of new logics that arise from MoMA's current aspirations," said Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "This work has required the curiosity of an archeologist and the skill of a surgeon. The improvements will make the visitor experience more intuitive and relieve congestion, while a new circulation network will knit together the expansion spaces with the lobbies, the theaters, and the Sculpture Garden to 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, and now visible in the completed east-end renovation, have historic significance. The main entrance of the original Goodwin and Stone building was located in what was known as the "Bauhaus Lobby," the ground-floor space that has undergone many changes over the decades. The 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 structurally optimizing the design of the stair using advanced engineering capabilities. The Grand Antique marble, sourced from the Ariège region in France, also recalls the marble surround of the historic stair in the Museum's original lobby.