In case you’ve have not come across it yet, recently the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) purchased the American Folk Art Museum with plans to demolish the building. This may not seem like a big deal, however, back in 2011 the new home of the museum opened at W 53st Street in Manhattan. As a result of the move and construction of the new building, the American Folk Art Museum took on a great deal of debt. According to Barbara Campagna’s April 23rd blog post, “The American Folk Art Museum board had taken on $32 million in debt to finance the museum and then defaulted on that in 2009. MoMA purchased the site in 2011 for $31.2 million, announcing earlier this month its demolition plans to make way for more gallery space that is more in keeping aesthetically with its white steel and glass.”
Beyond housing the museum, the building is an extremely unique architectural piece designed by two prominent New York City-based architects Todd Williams and Billie Tsien who have designed the David Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center and very recently, the new home of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Many are concerned about the loss of this piece to New York City, but more importantly to the architectural canon. Andrew S. Dolkart, the director of the historic preservation program at Columbia University was quoted in Robin Pogrebin’s April 10th New York Times article as saying “The building is so solid looking on the street, and then it becomes a disposable artifact. It’s unusual and it’s tragic because it’s a notable work of 21st century architecture by noteworthy architects who haven’t done that much work in the city, and it’s a beautiful work with the look of a handcrafted facade.”
I believe that the duality in having to sell the building and the recent loss of some of their collection (see this article) has created a very contentious relationship between the American Folk Art Museum and the behemoth that is the Museum of Modern Art. Many feel that the MoMA is a bully building its massive empire without respect for the modern work standing right next to it. Regardless, it is their building and they can do with it what they wish. If you strongly oppose the MoMA’s proposed actions you can sign the Change.org petition here.
Also…this week is National Park Week. Visit this website for more information!