Published: November 23, 2004
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is celebrating the reopening of its original midtown Manhattan location, marking the completion of the most extensive renovation project in its 75-year history. Several exhibitions will kickoff the much-anticipated event, paying tribute to the redesign that nearly doubles the museum’s original size.
Visitors will now be able to spend morning till evening among some of the world’s greatest contemporary works of art within 630,000 square feet of new and renovated space throughout six floors. Designed by architect Yoshio Taniguchi of Tokyo, the result is a concept that weaves the recently renovated building into the urban fabric of New York, reflecting the vitality of the city and presenting a unique solution to the density and complexity of a Midtown Manhattan site.
With facades of glass, black granite and aluminum, the new MoMA integrates some of the museum’s original architectural features with bold new construction. The light-filled Catie and Donald Marron Atrium soars 110 feet above the indoor boulevard connecting 53rd and 54th streets. Visitors can experience extensive views of the Manhattan cityscape while exploring the museum’s galleries, theaters, restaurants, stores and The Abby Aldrich Sculpture Garden, the heart and centerpiece of the renovation. The garden was restored to the larger 1953 Philip Johnson design, a setting for readings, modern sculpture and musical performances.
The lower level will present the MoMA’s film and media program. From the lobby, a staircase leads to the contemporary galleries on the second level, which now accommodates larger scale artworks. It will house the museum’s first gallery space specially designed for video and media with soundproof walls, as well as galleries for prints and illustrated books, a bookstore, reading room and café. Other second-floor galleries present a selection from more than 50,000 prints and illustrated books dating from the 1880s to the present, and the strongest international film and media collection in the United States, holding more than 22,000 films, videos and media works. Daily exhibitions drawn from the collection will take place in the Roy and Ninuta Titus Theaters.
The third floor features galleries for architecture, design, drawings, photography and temporary exhibitions. The collection brings together more than 6,000 drawings in pencil, ink and charcoal, as well as watercolors, collages, and works in mixed mediums.
Galleries on the fourth and fifth floors are devoted to 3,200 works of painting and sculpture from the world’s largest inclusive collection of modern and contemporary art. Works ranging from the Post-Impressionist period to World War II will be exhibited on the fifth floor; the fourth floor will display works dating from the postwar period to 1970. Sixth-floor galleries with skylit spaces and 18-foot-high ceilings will house temporary exhibitions. “While new galleries expand the amount of exhibition space available, they also preserve the intimate experience of coming face-to-face with a work of art,” said Doyle.
Among the current exhibitions inspired by the MoMA renovation project is “Nine Museums by Yoshio Taniguchi” through January 31, presenting the new MoMA in the context of the other art museums the artist designed over the last 25 years. The exhibition addresses four integral themes in his work: materials, proportion, natural light and movement. Taniguchi, born in Tokyo in 1937, has designed a wide range of structures in Japan, including libraries, schools, an aquarium and a tea house and garden. Taniguchi has stated his goal for the project was “to create an ideal environment for art and people through the imaginative and disciplined use of light, materials and space.”
Another exhibition, “Michael Wesely: Open Shutter at The Museum of Modern Art,” presents photographs of the museum’s construction and evolution. The German photographer’s exhibition reflects the project’s three-year span. The exhibition is organized by Sarah Hermanson Meister, associate curator, department of photography.
“Projects 82: Mark Dion, Rescue Archeology – A Project for The Museum of Modern Art,” on view through March 14, features historical artifacts, including architectural cornices, moldings, shards of ceramic, wallpaper samples and fireplace mantels that the artist excavated from the foundations of Abby Aldrich and John D. Rockefeller Jr’s former townhouse, now the site of The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
“Visitors can revisit old favorites, discover engaging new works and important recent acquisitions, and explore much more of the collection than ever before,” said Doyle. Among the favorites from the permanent collection are Vincent van Gogh’s brilliant “The Starry Night,” 1889, Pablo Picasso’s newly restored iconic “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” 1907, and Paul Gauguin’s colorful Tahitian depiction, “The Seed of the Areoi,” 1892. Also, Barnett Newman’s “Broken Obelisk,” (1963-69), a 24-foot sculpture that can be seen in the round from a variety of vantage points; and Claude Monet’s monumental “Reflections of Clouds on the Water Lily Pond,” circa 1920, a painting in three sections stretching more than 20 feet in length.
Other highlights include the famed energetic painting, “Dance,” 1909, the first version by Henri Matisse, and Gustav Klimt’s eclectic “Hope II,” 1907-08, together with Constanin Brancusi’s “Fish,” 1930, and Marcel Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel,” 1951.
Of a significant assemblage of recent acquisitions, John Elderfield, chief curator of the department of painting and sculpture, stated, “This entire group of extraordinary acquisitions highlights the range and diversity of the museum’s collecting interests.” Recently acquired masterpieces include Picasso’s plaster and wood sculpture “Pregnant Woman.” Created in 1950, shortly after the birth of the artist’s son Claude, the piece reflects the period of Picasso’s life when childhood and a personal capacity to re-create life were at the core of his imagery. The piece reveals the artist’s thinking process through its raw texture.
Also acquired was Jasper Johns’ “Diver,” 1963, a charcoal, pastel and watercolor on paper mounted on canvas. Standing 7 feet tall, it depicts the imprint of the artist’s hands and feet in an evocation of a swan dive. “‘Diver’ is one of the most important works on paper created in the Twentieth Century,” stated Elderfield, “and is one of his most profound and complex creations. It will assume a significant place in the museum’s collection among its masterpieces,” he said. Created when Johns was 33, the piece has, according to the artist, “an ambiguous quality that can suggest either life or death.”
Among the prints recently acquired is Edvard Munch’s lithograph “The Sick Child I,” 1896. The image exemplifies Munch’s experimental approach to printmaking as he explored several color variations for this evocative portrait of his dying sister.
Also, Kiki Smith’s “Peacock,” 1954, an etching on ten attached sheets of Nepalese paper, reveals the artist’s brilliant use of delicate line to render the bird’s detailed feathers. Roy Lichtenstein’s drawing “Study for Tension,” 1964, pencil and colored pencils on paper, depicts a distinct psychological edge and tension in the relationship between a male and female figure.
“Since its founding 75 years ago, the Museum of Modern Art’s conception of itself has been one of continuous evolution,” said Museum Director Glenn D. Lowry. “This legacy has allowed us to reconsider the collection with every installation and in each phase of growth. The new MoMA, like the old MoMA, is thus a work in progress in which we invite the public to participate. As such, it is a humanistic endeavor that will continue to serve as a place of knowledge and inquiry, and resonate with new audiences into the Twenty-First Century.”
The MoMA redesign is the first international commission for Taniguchi and Associates of Tokyo. The project was also completed under the architectural team of Kohn Pederson Fox, New York, and Cooper, Robertson & Partners, New York.
The Museum of Modern Art is at 11 West 53rd Street. Hours are Wednesday through Monday, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm; Friday, 10:30 am to 8 pm. Admission is $20 adults; $16 seniors, $12 full-time students and free for members and children 16 and under accompanied by an adult. Free Friday evening hours are 4 to 8 pm.
The MoMA Design and Book Store has entrances on 53rd Street and in the main lobby, featuring books, art reproductions and design objects. Featured catalogs include Art in Our Time: A History of The Museum of Modern Art, offering a pictorial history of the museum; Taniguchi: Nine Museums, the exhibition catalog; and a revised edition of MoMA Highlights.
For information, 212-708-9400 or .
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