MoMa Plans a Massive Renovation, But Will Nix the American Folk Art Museum

There’s big news for all of you art lovers out there — the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York has revealed its plans for a huge renovation. Located in Midtown at 54th Street, the MoMa draws around 3 million annual visitors with its impressive collection of 20th century and new-age art. The museum announced it would undergo another massive overhaul just 9 years after the completion of a large-scale remodeling based on the design of Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi. The earlier renovation cost over $858 million dollars, but the MoMa has not yet released a budget for its next big project. Construction will begin this summer and is expected to be completed in 2018 or 2019.

Although the MoMa’s new design has will help make the museum more accessible to visitors, the project is not without criticism. One of the biggest drawbacks of the remodeling is that it will cause the neighboring Museum of American Folk Art to be demolished. Although the museum is small and somewhat out of place next to the modern art giant, it is not without its charm. Whether or not MoMa’s new design will make up for the loss of the Museum of American Folk Art remains to be seen, but here are a few more details about the MoMa’s remodeling plans.

Cons of the Current Design

Many were not satisfied with the MoMa’s remodeling nine years ago. Critics say the outside of the museum was less than inviting to visitors. They say the exterior was cold and made the MoMa seem like an exclusive destination. Inside, the lobby was subject to overcrowding, in part because it was designed to accommodate 2.2 million rather than 3 million annual visitors. Furthermore, once visitors made it that far it took much too long to get to the actual art.

Planned Improvements

The MoMa’s new design seeks to address many of the downfalls of the previous renovation. In the remodeling, MoMa will work to make the museum feel more connected and the floor plan more logical. The demolition of the folk art museum will allow the MoMa to create an entryway opening right to the street. The structure will be crafted from sheet glass, making the gallery visible from the outside. The added square footage will also be used for a flexible art performance space.

The Loss

The American Folk Art Museum is small both in scope and size. It only measures 40 at its widest point. However, many are adamantly against its destruction. The building is only 12 years old, so some may argue it’s hardly had a chance to make headway as an art museum.

MoMa says it’s made every effort to save the folk art museum. When MoMa revealed it had plans to tear down the museum in April, many were outraged. MoMa promised it would investigate the situation further and do everything it could to save the museum. To keep the museum where it is, MoMa would have to make numerous structural and design changes so that the new building would hardly resemble the original. In light of this fact, MoMa thought it wasn’t worth saving.

What may be more troublesome than the destruction of the museum itself is what it represents. Here we have a huge, high-grossing museum destroying and consuming its smaller neighbor. The museum doesn’t just represent folk art — it also symbolizes small town America and local businesses. Could the MoMa’s destruction of the folk art museum also represent corporations usurping small businesses and start-ups? The threat of big corporations taking over smaller companies affects every industry in the United States, everything from aqua bailers to children’s clothing. If the art community can’t recognize the value of institutions like the American Museum of Folk Art, how will the rest of us?

  

Author: COURTNEY GORDNER

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