Waiting while the new MoMA wises up to its fringe benefits


Waiting while the new MoMA wises up to its fringe benefits

When New York’s Museum of Modern Art reopens in October it’ll focus more on the overlooked and unusual

Tymon Smith

New York, New York – one helluva town – home to tourist attractions, parks, shops, music venues and art galleries. For a couple of months, though, one thing visitors won’t be able to experience is the glory of the Museum of Modern Art.
That’s because MoMA will be in the final stages of its $400m renovation and is undergoing a change that’s so radical that its board is willing to lose millions in tourist revenue in favour of making a concerted final push to unveil its new curatorial approach in October. As the New York Times reports: “The Picassos and Van Goghs will still be there, but the 40,000 square feet of additional space will allow MoMA to focus new attention on works by women, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and other overlooked artists.”
It’s taken MoMA some time but the museum’s recognition of a more inclusive idea of modern art is to be welcomed. As museum director Glenn D Lowry told The Times: “A new generation of curators is discovering the richness of what is in our collection, and there is great work being made around the world that we need to pay attention to … It means that the usual gets supplanted now by the unexpected.”
Although the upper floors of the museum will continue to offer visitors a chronological journey through the history of contemporary art, the new configuration will see a greater turnover of works from the institution’s permanent collection and a mixing of mediums. The museum’s chairperson, Leon Black, told The Times: “We don’t want to forget our roots in terms of having the greatest Modernist collection, but the museum didn’t emphasise female artists, didn’t emphasise what minority artists were doing, and it was limited on geography.” He added: “Where those were always the exceptions, now they really should be part of the reality of the multicultural society we all live in.”

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