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The Museum of Modern Art in New York City Completes First Phase of Major Renovation and Reveals Final Design for Multi-Year Expansion and Renovation Project

June 6, 2017 Attraction No Comments Email Email

Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, today revealed the completed renovation of the east end of the Museum’s campus and unveiled the full design of a multi-year expansion project, developed by MoMA with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler.

The goals for the project are threefold: to increase gallery space and allow the Museum to exhibit significantly more of its diverse collection in deeper and more interdisciplinary ways, to provide visitors with a more welcoming and comfortable experience, and to better connect the Museum to the urban fabric of midtown Manhattan.

The renovation of the east section, which began in February 2016 and is now complete, enhances galleries and public spaces on three floors. This initial phase of the project includes the reconfiguration of 15,000 square feet to create two spacious galleries on the third floor that allow more flexibility for installing the collection and special exhibitions; the extension of the historic Bauhaus staircase to the ground level to restore and enhance access to the second-floor galleries; and the addition of a new first-floor lounge facing The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Improvements also include renovations of the restrooms and the provision of an additional coat check at street level. On the second floor, Cafe 2 has been renovated, and is now adjacent to a new museum store and an espresso bar overlooking the Sculpture Garden.

The overall expansion, including the west side that is now under construction, will yield a net increase in MoMA’s gallery space of one-third, to 175,000 square feet. The design optimizes current spaces to be more flexible and technologically sophisticated, and creates more areas for visitors to pause and reflect. It enlarges and opens up the main lobby into a light-filled, double-height space and creates intuitive circulation routes through the Museum, including a connector that seamlessly links the new galleries to the renovated east side of the building. Thanks to the redesigned circulation, the new western portion of the Museum will be dedicated almost entirely to the display of art. The 30 percent increase in exhibition space includes a stack of vertically interlocking galleries of varying heights, some naturally lit, some equipped for performance and film.

The 50,000 square feet of gallery space being added in the western portion of the building will enable MoMA to realize a long-held aspiration: to present significantly more of its collection through a series of fluid, interconnected narratives of modern and contemporary art across all mediums. The new galleries will provide an opportunity to reimagine the display of the Museum’s collection and showcase its depth, breadth, complexity, and diversity through a greater use of interdisciplinary installations, while also having rotating spaces devoted to specific mediums, including photography, architecture, and design. To mark the opening of the expanded MoMA in 2019, the entire Museum will be devoted to exhibitions and installations from the collection.

“The Museum of Modern Art’s renovation and expansion project will seek to reassure and surprise,” Glenn D. Lowry said. “Our curators and the architectural team have spent more than two years in conversations about the nature of our collection, the history of our installations, the continually changing nature of art, and our opportunities and responsibilities for engaging our audiences. The outcome of these discussions is a design that accommodates a global view and new perspectives on modern and contemporary art, and that embodies the metabolic and self-renewing nature of our institution.”

The expansion to the west end of the site will feature engaging new street-level galleries comprised of a dedicated Projects Room and a gallery for contemporary design, a new fully customized studio space for media, performance, and film, and a sixth-floor lounge with an outdoor terrace facing 53rd Street. The MoMA Design and Book Store will be lowered one level and made visible to the street through a dramatic glass wall, and the building will be more open and directly woven into the fabric of midtown Manhattan. The entire first floor will continue to be open to the public free of charge, including the new galleries. The existing galleries on the second, fourth, and fifth floors will be expanded westward through the new 53W53 building designed by Jean Nouvel, adding 11,500 square feet per floor.

Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, said, “This project has called on us to work across MoMA’s rich architectural history, incorporating the Museum’s existing building blocks into a comprehensible whole through careful and deliberate interventions into previous logics, as well as the construction of new logics that arise from MoMA’s current aspirations. This work has required the curiosity of an archeologist and the skill of a surgeon. The improvements will make the visitor experience more intuitive and relieve congestion, while a new circulation network will knit together the expansion spaces with the lobbies, the theaters, and the Sculpture Garden to create a contiguous, free public realm that bridges street to street and art to city.”

“The design integrates the various facets of the Museum’s architectural history, creating a distinct clear-glass façade on 53rd Street that complements the existing Goodwin and Stone, Johnson, and Taniguchi buildings and invites a more open dialogue between interior and exterior spaces.”

Design and palette choices throughout the renovation and expansion project, and now visible in the completed east-end renovation, have historic significance. The main entrance of the original Goodwin and Stone building was located in what was known as the “Bauhaus Lobby,” the ground-floor space that has undergone many changes over the decades. The architects have reinstated the connection between the ground floor and the galleries with a stair that uses the original materials of terrazzo, glass, and steel, while structurally optimizing the design of the stair using advanced engineering capabilities. The Grand Antique marble, sourced from the Ariège region in France, also recalls the marble surround of the historic stair in the Museum’s original lobby.

Throughout the construction process, MoMA will remain open and continue to present its exhibition program. The main lobby entrance on 53rd Street will close as of June 4, 2017, to accommodate construction, and visitors will be directed a few hundred feet east to the lobby of the Ronald S. and Jo Carole Lauder Building, which was the original entrance to the Museum.

Upcoming Exhibitions in MoMA’s New Spaces

The first exhibition to be presented in one of the two newly renovated and reconfigured third-floor galleries is Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive (June 12–October 1, 2017), mounted in honor of the 150th anniversary of the architect’s birth and organized by Barry Bergdoll. The exhibition, which critically engages Wright’s multifaceted practice, comprises approximately 450 works made from the 1890s through the 1950s, including architectural drawings, models, building fragments, films, television broadcasts, print media, furniture, tableware, textiles, paintings, photographs, and scrapbook, including a number of works that have rarely or never been publicly exhibited. Structured as an anthology rather than a comprehensive, monographic presentation of Wright’s work, the exhibition is divided into 12 sections, each of which investigates a key object or cluster of objects from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, interpreting and contextualizing it, and juxtaposing it with other works from the Archives, from MoMA, or from outside collections.

About the Architects

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) is an interdisciplinary design studio that works at the intersection of architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts. For their commitment to merging art and architecture with issues of contemporary culture, founding partners Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio were recognized by the MacArthur Foundation with the “genius” grant, the first given in the field of architecture. In addition to the MoMA expansion and renovation, DS+R’s architectural work includes the High Line, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center at Columbia University, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Redevelopment in New York City; The Broad in Los Angeles; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley; and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. In-progress works include The Shed, New York City, Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro, and Zaryadye Park, Moscow.

The studio’s independent projects have been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art and at other leading cultural institutions across the globe, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Jewish Museum, in New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Venice Biennale; the Swiss National Exposition; Palais De Tokyo, and Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris.


Gensler is a global architecture, design and planning firm with 45 locations and more than 5,000 professionals networked across Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas. Founded in 1965, the firm serves more than 3,500 active clients in virtually every industry. Gensler designers strive to make the places people live, work and play more inspiring, more resilient and more impactful.

Recent cultural projects include the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), the Houston Ballet Center for Dance (Texas), The Broad (Los Angeles, CA), and The Clark (Williamstown, Massachusetts).

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