MoMA unveils radical $450 million renovation

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has shaken up its permanent collection with the unveiling of an incredible $450 million (£356 million) expansion. After two years of construction, the museum will reopen to the public on 21 October.

MoMA’s new incarnation is the brain-child of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. By opening up the ground floor and stealing space from a new residential tower, the architects have decreased crowding and radically changed visitors’ journeys through the museum.

This wasn’t a heroic project, it was more of a surgical job. But it encompassed everything from organ transplants to nips and tucks,” recalled one of the firm’s partners, Elizabeth Diller.

Space has been increased by nearly 30% to accommodate the 3 million visitors that throng to the museum each year. Visitors can also walk through a new immersive studio area for performance, process and time-based art.

Often museums feel like sealed boxes and we wanted to get away from that and to take advantage of the fact that we’re located in this fascinating part of New York city,” explained MoMA’s director, Glenn Lowry.

One of the most radical decisions made by MoMA is the experimental rehanging of the permanent collection. Curators from different departments sought to offer greater diversity by increasing the visibility of marginalised artists and stories.

Rajendra Roy, MoMA’s chief curator of film, said “it was a shift away from the idea that everyone has to stay in their silos. To me, that’s probably the biggest triumph.”

Historically hung in chronological order with different artistic mediums separated, the collection has now been remixed to showcase both past and present simultaneously.

Most notably, Pablo Picasso’s 1907 painting ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ is hung in the same room as Louise Bourgeois’s 1947-53 sculpture ‘Quarantania, I’ and Faith Ringgold’s 1967 work ‘American People Series #20: Die’, which depicts a race riot.

Lowry argued that “Faith Ringgold’s painting…doesn’t diminish Picasso, it simply means that there’s another conversation you can have around Picasso.”

In a digital world that has witnessed the unquestionable rise of social media, MoMA’s decision to rehang was influenced by the new way people consume a wide variety of images.

I think part of what we wanted to do was to clearly recognise that our audiences, not just our younger audiences, all of our audiences, are experiencing imagery in new and different ways,” commented Lowry.

MoMA’s remarkable architectural effort, albeit stark in its style, has propelled public accessibility to the fore and made the collection more inclusive than ever before.

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