More space and natural light at newly renovated Museum of Modern Art

Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans on display at the expanded and re-imagined Museum of Modern Art during a press preview last Thursday, ahead of next Monday's opening of its expanded campus.
Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Cans on display at the expanded and re-imagined Museum of Modern Art during a press preview last Thursday, ahead of next Monday's opening of its expanded campus.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • New York's heralded Museum of Modern Art (Moma) reopens this month after a multi-million-dollar makeover that will allow curators to display hundreds more works every year.

The museum has been closed for four months, but will reopen next Monday following the latest renovations which increase the venerated institution's capacity.

Moma, which moved to its current location in 1939, has undergone remodelling in 1950, 1962, 1980 and 2001 to cope with a growing collection and increased footfall.

Space was expanded by a third this time and director Glenn Lowry said the layout has been reinvented to reflect the philosophy of the museum's first director, Alfred Barr.

"Barr imagined it as a laboratory to which the public was invited. The public would participate in the experiment of looking at and thinking about modern art," Mr Lowry said.

"He understood that the museum was to be a work in progress, changing and evolving as modern and contemporary art changes and evolves," he told reporters at a preview.

The museum took advantage of a real-estate project by selling some land to a developer to build a luxury tower, in which Moma would make use of the first three floors.

By also making some tweaks to its existing buildings, Moma has increased its capacity to 15,329 sq m.

The upgrade, which cost US$450 million (S$616 million), means the museum will be able to exhibit about 2,400 works a year, compared with an average of 1,500 previously, Mr Lowry said.

The most radical change is that for the first time, artworks will be presented by theme rather than by time period. The works will also have the benefit of more natural light.

"What makes modern and contemporary art exciting are precisely the debates and arguments that are still taking place," said Mr Lowry.

"We want to make the public aware the questions are more interesting than the answers," he added.

Themes and artwork will change every six months or so, but the major pieces, such as French Impressionist painter Claude Monet's Water Lilies and Spanish artist Pablo Picasso's The Ladies Of Avignon, will always be on show.

"For people who come and want to see the icons, they'll be there," said Mr Lowry.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2019, with the headline 'More space and natural light at newly renovated Museum of Modern Art'. Print Edition | Subscribe