MoMA will be closed all summer as it wraps up the final phase of its $400M expansion

February 5, 2019

Exterior view of The Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street. Rendering by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, courtesy of MoMA.

The Museum of Modern Art will be closed throughout the summer as it prepares to open its expanded campus on October 21st. The $400 million expansion, developed by MoMA with architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler, will add more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces and allow the Museum to exhibit more art in new, interdisciplinary ways. The final phase of construction will expand into Jean Nouvel’s new residential tower 53W53 and into the site of the demolished American Folk Art Museum. It will add innovative performance and education spaces, expand the MoMA Design and Bookstore, and add free street-level galleries on the ground floor that will make art more accessible for all.

MoMA expansion, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gensler, MidtownConstruction progress in new gallery spaces at The Museum of Modern Art. Image courtesy of Turner Construction Company.

The museum will take this as an opportunity to reconsider and revamp how it displays its collections. Art by female, Latino, Asian, African American, and other artists who have been overlooked from the canon will be given greater prominence in the new gallery spaces across the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors. While those spaces will retain a chronological narrative, the museum will begin displaying different mediums in juxtaposition, instead of having dedicated galleries for painting, sculpture, architecture, design, photography, performance, film and works on paper. The inaugural exhibitions opening on October 19th will feature work by Betye Saar, Pope L., and a survey of Latin American Art.

“Inspired by Alfred Barr’s original vision to be an experimental museum in New York, the real value of this expansion is not just more space, but space that allows us to rethink the experience of art in the Museum,” said Glenn D. Lowry, The David Rockefeller Director of The Museum of Modern Art, in a press statement. “We have an opportunity to re-energize and expand upon our founding mission — to welcome everyone to experience MoMA as a laboratory for the study and presentation of the art of our time, across all visual arts.”

MoMA expansion, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gensler, MidtownNorth/south section-perspective through the new gallery spaces at The Museum of Modern Art, looking east along Fifty-third Street. Image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, courtesy of MoMA. 

The expanded museum will also include a new two-story Studio for live and experimental programming, including performance, dance, music, moving image, and sound works. On the second floor, the Platform will be an educational space for visitors to make art and engage in conversations. “We’re trying to make a visit to the museum a comfortable, enjoyable experience that lets you move back and forth from looking at art to talking about art to thinking about art,” Lowry said to the New York Times.

MoMA expansion, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gensler, Midtown

MoMA expansion, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gensler, MidtownTop: The Marlene Hess and James D. Zirin Lounge; Bottom: View of the restored Bauhaus staircase. Photos by Iwan Baan for MoMA.

The museum has budgeted to account for the four months of closure and will keep MoMA PS1 open throughout that time. A $100 million donation from entertainment mogul David Geffen and a newly announced $200 million from the estate of David Rockefeller will aid the transition.

MoMA is also partnering with the Studio Museum in Harlem to present exhibitions at MoMA while its own building on 125th Street is under construction. The first exhibition at the “Studio Museum at MoMA” will feature Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage.

The Museum’s final day of general admission will be June 15, 2019, and all of its spring exhibitions will close on that day. According to Grub Street, you’ll still be able to visit the museum for dinner, as Danny Meyer’s restaurant The Modern will remain open throughout the duration of the renovations.

The new MoMA will open earlier to the public, at 10:00 a.m and offer extended hours until 9:00 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month.


All photos by Iwan Baan; Architectural diagrams courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Construction photos courtesy of Turner Construction Company

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