New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) announced that it will temporarily seal off its assigned gallery space for its architecture and design department, the Robert Menschel Architecture and Design Gallery and the third-floor Special Exhibitions Galleries, as well as the Edward Steichen Photography Galleries and Paul J. Sachs Drawings Galleries. All of these gallery spaces will be reconfigured into two separate suites, each measuring at 5,000 and 10,000 square feet, respectively, to provide a more flexible space for installations and exhibitions. This will enable MoMA to remain open to the public throughout the renovation process, according to a release sent by its department of communications. By combining the collections, the curatorial teams will come up with new ways in how to present their collections while engaging visitors.
This is all to accommodate renovations that are in preparation for the expansion of the existing 630,000-square-foot building, headed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which has been going on for two years now, although a finalized architectural design has yet to be released. The museum hopes to improve access for visitors and create more space for the 86-year-old institution’s massive collection. According to Margaret Doyle, MoMA's director in the department of communications, once the expansion is complete, it will include 50,000 square feet of new, and 15,000 square feet of renovated gallery space. The combined efforts of the renovation and expansion process will give the museum an overall net gain of 30 percent more gallery space, or 174,000 square feet. The total square footage of the finalized, renovated museum will be 744,000, or a 17 percent increase.
The architectural and design department, which was originally established in 1932, will remain intact despite the temporary closing of the area, as well as the other aforementioned branches of the museum. The architectural branch is the world’s first curatorial department dedicated to architecture and design, and has intrinsically linked the two realms under the belief that they “are allied and interdependent arts,” according to the division’s site.
This is the first phase of the renovation process, and will take place on the east end of the campus. It is expected to be completed by the time construction begins on the west end of the building, and depends on the progress of Jean Nouvel’s 53W53 tower, which will be adjacent to MoMA and eventually house additional gallery space for the departments that will be temporarily closed. There will be another set of renovations in the current building following this portion, prior to construction of new spaces, which includes improvements to the lobby, MoMA Design Store, integrating another lobby connecting the galleries to the west end of the campus, and a ciruclation core.
The third floor, designed by former architecture curator Terrence Riley, where the “Special Exhibitions, Photography, Drawings, and Architecture” galleries reside, will be temporarily closed, and subsequently reconfigured in early 2017. According to Janelle Grace, publicity coordinator at MoMA, the curatorial team will continue to host special exhibitions on architecture and design . Currently, "A Japanese Constellation," curated by Portugese architect Pedro Gadanho, is on display within this space, featuring the works of Toyo Ito, Hon. FAIA, SANAA, Sou Fujimoto, and other architects and firms from the same school. The multidisciplinary show will be open until July 4.
According to MoMA's site, the architecture and design department currently houses 28,000 pieces including models, drawings, and large-scale objects. Although it is too soon to tell how the finished gallery space will affect the architecture and design department’s current collection, as well as the other departments', there is an ongoing discourse as to how they will work with these moving parts. However, throughout the renovation, these pieces will be on view throughout difrerent areas of the museum, such as works exclusively from the 1960s that are currently on display.