This past June, just as prime summer tourist season was about to kick in, the Museum of Modern Art, the city's third most popular museum with more than three million visitors a year, closed its doors for four months. The reason? A $450 million expansion, construction, and renovation project that not only increased the gallery space by 40,000 square feet or 30% (and "other" public space by 25%), but also entailed a complete rethinking, reorganizing, and rehanging of MoMA's vaunted permanent collection. And now the job is done! On October 21st MoMA is open once again. Here's a first look at the reboot.
That dramatically-lit canopy jutting out over the entrance on 53rd Street is new, but it's not until you enter the building that you notice how different everything is on the ground floor. The lobby itself is pretty much just a big empty space now, save for a new high tech coat room—there are no tickets; you enter your phone number on the touch screen and get a text with all the necessary info—which the staff says will speed up this most dreaded of all MoMA lines. To the east is a new Member's Desk, and the entrance to the beloved, unchanged Sculpture Garden.
To the west, there's a large new ticket-buying area, which now includes a bank of electronic kiosks, as well as a few spots to lounge about while overlooking the stylish new subterranean gift shop, which features a two-story "wall of books." Keep going and you'll discover the two new free-to-the-public galleries at the lobby level, called 1 North and 2 North, showcasing emerging artists.
On floors two, four, five, and six is where the increase in gallery space really hits you. The soaring Atrium is intact but basically everything else has expanded west, and you can tell you're entering new territory whenever you pass through a black-framed entranceway. There are an extraordinary number of (re)discoveries to be made on these floors, especially now that they've included many recent acquisitions by African, African-American, Asian, and Latin American artists, as well as more work by women artists in general.
There are other new exhibition spaces throughout, including a performance "Studio" (on the 4th floor) that features a wall of windows and an engaging sound installation. Accessible via a separate stairwell or elevator, is the new Terrace Cafe, notable for its outdoor tables.