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MoMA is closing down for four months–here’s why

The closure will make way for a controversial expansion, aimed at making the Museum of Modern Art more inclusive and accessible.

The Museum of Modern Art’s controversial 40,000-square-foot expansion plans are almost complete. The museum announced this week that it will be closed from June 15th to October 21st as the last stages of the $400 million expansion are finished and the museum rearranges its collections to reflect a more inclusive, diverse vision of modern art.

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The expansion began back in 2014 with MoMA’s acquisition of the next-door American Folk Art Museum, which has been demolished to make way for the museum’s growing galleries, designed by the New York-based architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. The demolition plans caused an outcry in the design world (Co.Design even called it one of the biggest design scandals of 2014), since the American Folk Art Museum’s building was young–and architecturally significant. But with upcoming closure and reopening, the public will have a chance to judge the expansion for itself.

[Image: © 2017 Diller Scofidio + Renfro/courtesy MoMA]
When the museum reopens in October, it will look entirely different, with extended ground-floor galleries that are open to the public, a double-height space designed for experimental performance art, and a new educational center. The first exhibitions will all be from the museum’s collection, featuring a survey of Latin American art and focused exhibitions on two black artists, Pope.L and Betye Saar. One gallery will be curated by the Studio Museum in Harlem, which is also undergoing renovations.

While the summer-long closure is sure to cost the museum a significant amount of revenue, given that it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, the museum’s director Glenn Lowry told The New York Times that the museum has budgeted for the loss. Ultimately, this redesign is meant to remake the museum’s image, shifting its brand as a staid arbiter of modern art to a more accessible space that recognizes historically overlooked artists, too. We’ll have to wait until October to see if it succeeds.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and sign up for her newsletter here: https://tinyletter.com/schwabability

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