What to Expect at MoMA's Reopening This Fall

It’s been a tough summer without The Museum of Modern Art in midtown, but the museum’s grand reopening is just weeks away and well worth the wait. On October 21, MoMA will unveil its architectural updates, along with new exhibitions, changes to its museum store, and chances to interact with modern art in new ways. Read on, and get excited about the brand-new MoMA. Can’t wait for October? Check out MoMA PS1, the museum’s exemplary Queens counterpart in nearby Long Island City, open while we wait for Manhattan.

New Look 

The Museum of Modern Art’s redesign presents expanded gallery space, greater accessibility for visitors, and new, exciting opportunities to engage with modern art. The renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in addition to Gensler, have reimagined the museum’s 1939 structure (designed by architects Goodwin and Stone) for the twenty-first century. The primary feature of this renovation will be the additional 40,000 square feet of gallery space, expanding existing space by 30%, according to a video on the museum website. The redesign will also offer increased accessibility to the galleries via additional stairs and elevators. 

The redesign will start the moment visitors step into the new bi-level lobby on the West 53rd Street side. Art installations will also be featured in this space, called the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium. 

The new ground-floor exhibition space, offering free access for passersby and museum attendees alike, will feature the work of artist Michael Armitage as part of the new Studio Museum at MoMA, The Elaine Dannheisser Project Series. This series represents a partnership between The Studio Museum in Harlem and MoMA PS1, which will expand opportunities for artists and art-lovers alike to get the most out of their museum experience. 

On the second floor, museum-goers can enjoy an interactive space at the Paula and James Crown Platform, offering art-making, talks, and other educational activities to enrich viewers’ experience of the art in the galleries. 

In the center of the Museum galleries will be the Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio on the fourth floor, which will host performance art, music, and other live activations with thematic ties to the surrounding art works. This space will be visible from a fifth-floor overlook as well. 

New Exhibitions 

A new organization of the museum collection, particularly on the second, fourth, and fifth floors, will combine art works from around the world in a variety of media. These presentations will change every six to nine months in order to expose the public to even more exciting art from the collection and to challenge common notions of artistic categorization, according to a museum press release. 

Sur Moderno

María Freire (Uruguayan, 1917–2015). Untitled. 1954. Oil on canvas. 

Sur moderno: Journeys of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift will offer a new look into the museum’s collection of Latin American art across a range of artistic media. Much of this art comes from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros and represents artists working in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Uruguay. 

The fearless performance artist Pope.L is the subject of the exhibition member: Pope.L, 1978-2001, in a multi-institutional retrospective in which the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Public Art Fund are also participating. There will also be a retrospective on the artist Betye Saar, based around her important sculpture Black Girl’s Window. 

In the museum’s new Studio on the fourth floor, the inaugural work will be Rainforest V (variation 1) by David Tudor and Composers Inside Electronics. This work will immerse visitors in a sound installation activated by unique sonic sculptures made of found objects like a computer hard disk. Following this presentation will be commissioned work by Adam Linder and Shahryar Nashat and two Studio-specific series called Studio Now and Studio Sound. Next summer, the inaugural Studio Residency will kick off with artist Okwui Okpokwasili. 

On the sixth floor, step into new worlds with Surrounds: 11 Installations, opening October 21. This exhibition presents installation work by contemporary artists, with one installation per gallery. 

The day of the grand reopening, visitors can also view Haegue Yang’s work Handles in the Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium. According to a press release, this multisensory work will combine installations on three walls of the atrium, recorded and ambient sounds, and the choreographed movement of bell-like sculptures across the floor of the lobby. 

Extended Hours

The museum will be open 7 days a week, now starting at 10am daily. The museum will close at 5:30pm, Monday through Sunday. On the first Thursday of the month, MoMA will stay open until 9pm. 

The Museum of Modern Art in Midtown is located at 11 W. 53rd St. MoMA PS1 is located at 22-25 Jackson Ave. in Queens. Call 212-708-9400 or visit for more information.

Monet Water Lillies

Image: Luca Vanzella/Flickr

About the Author

Merrill Lee Girardeau lives and writes in Brooklyn.

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