MoMA to close for 4 months to make room for renovations

MoMA to close for 4 months to make room for renovations
North/south section — perspective through the new gallery spaces at The Museum of Modern Art looking east along Fifty-third Street. Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

On June 15th, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) will close its doors heading into the summer for four months to undertake the final stage of the museum’s $400 million renovations. The museum will forego summer tourism revenue in the hopes for an even greater return after they reopen on October 21st. After reconfiguring their galleries, the MoMA will rehang the entirety of their collection and reassess the ways in which it relays the modern and contemporary art is highlights to its visitors.

The renovations will create 40,000 more square feet of gallery space to showcase the MoMA’s vast collection. Thus, visitors will continue to find old favourites but there will also be room to focus on works by women and other under-represented artists of varying nationalities. To do so, the MoMA will also do away with the discipline-based system of displaying artworks that it has subscribed to for 80 years. After the rehang, the museum will be more chronological bringing artworks of all kinds – from paintings to photography, mixed media to film – together, side by side. The museum will also begin to rotate the works on display every six to nine months and utilize its permanent collection in all of the opening exhibitions. The choice to shake up the MoMA’s traditional manner of displaying and organizing art is the institution’s way of recognizing that there is no exact way to follow the line of modern and contemporary art. Instead, its new guidelines will focus on the breadth of the museum’s stores, which have often been overlooked.


Elevation of The Museum of Modern Art on Fifty-third Street with cutaway view below street level. Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro.


‘A new generation of curators is discovering the richness of what is in our collection, and there is great work being made around the world that we need to pay attention to,” said director of the museum Glenn D. Lowry in the New York Times. ‘It means that the usual gets supplanted now by the unexpected.’

‘We don’t want to forget our roots in terms of having the greatest Modernist collection,’ said Leon Black, the museum’s chairman, in reference to the museum’s commitment to continue showing beloved works by mainstays like Picasso and van Gogh.’[B]ut the museum didn’t emphasize female artists, didn’t emphasize what minority artists were doing, and it was limited on geography,’ he continued. ‘Where those were always the exceptions, now they really should be part of the reality of the multicultural society we all live in.’

The MoMA’s renovations were collaboratively designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler and will span into the space created when the American Folk Art Museum was demolished. The plan also includes designs that will expand existing galleries through a new residential skyscraper called 52W52 designed by Jean Nouvel.

Come October, a survey of Latin America art and two exhibitions of artworks by African American artists Pope.L and Betye Saar will invite guests back into the MoMA’s reimagined spaces and usher in a new era for the New York institution.