CHANGE IS COMING at the Studio Museum in Harlem. A new website design was unveiled yesterday and the museum announced it will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year by breaking ground on a new building designed by architect David Adjaye. The Studio Museum revealed the new developments in a New York Times article lauding the leadership and star power of Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden, and discussed plans for its new home during an invitation-only conversation with Golden and Adjaye at Red Rooster Harlem.

The Studio Museum plans to break ground on its new home in late fall 2018. The museum described the new building slated to open in 2021 as “the premier center for contemporary artists of African descent, the principal visual art institution in Harlem, and a magnet for visitors from around the world.” The 82,000 square foot structure will rise at the museum’s current site on West 125th street, replacing the existing building.

“We are thrilled to announce that during our 50th anniversary year, we will begin construction on the single biggest initiative the Studio Museum has ever undertaken, making David Adjaye’s brilliant design a reality,” Golden said in a statement.

“We look back with pride on our legacy, so much of which has been built within the space that Max Bond renovated for us. We look forward to constructing a building that provides unprecedented resources for our work and creates a superb new cultural landmark for Harlem and the entire City of New York,” she said.

“We look back with pride on our legacy, so much of which has been built within the space that Max Bond renovated for us. We look forward to constructing a building that provides unprecedented resources for our work and creates a superb new cultural landmark for Harlem and the entire City of New York.” — Thelma Golden

Golden is overseeing the most expensive and consequential project in the institution’s history. Construction of the new building is made possible by public and private investments, including substantial support and a major financial commitment from the City of New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, and members of the city council have praised the museum’s historic importance, national and global influence, quality of contemporary programming, and commitment to the city.

Mayor de Blasio said: “We are excited about the unique potential that the Museum’s new home brings with it. As they embark on creating a one-of-a-kind space to serve as a platform for the creative work of the artists from around the world, the Studio Museum is poised to have an even greater impact on the Harlem community, the City of New York, and the global cultural conversation.”

The Studio Museum made public a capital campaign led by its board of trustees. The goal is to raise $175 million to help meet construction costs, provide an operating and capital reserve fund, and build the museum’s endowment. The museum reports that the quiet phase of the campaign has been incredibly successful, already raising 70 percent of the $175 million. The City of New York has committed $53.8 million toward construction costs. Other public and private contributions from foundations and philanthropist, business figures, and art world leaders total $62 million.

The museum also announced the formation of a Community Advisory Network composed of Harlem stakeholders with a vested interest in the museum’s success and role as a good neighbor. The group is intended give a voice to the community and ensure the concerns of the museum’s neighbors are heard.

“For almost half a century, the Studio Museum has been a jewel of the Harlem community,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m proud to support this great institution as it prepares to build a wonderful new home, so that it can do even more to represent Harlem with integrity and authenticity.”

READ MORE about David Adjaye’s selection to design the Studio Museum’s new home

 


The museum’s new light-filled home is 82,000 square feet, includes an increase of 115 percent for exhibition space and the artist-in-residence program, features five floors above ground, and a roof terrace. | Adjaye Associates

 

THE NEW MUSEUM

RECOGNIZING HIS VISION, wide-ranging contributions to the art world, and influence in next generation museum design, the Studio Museum is honoring Adjaye at its autumn gala Oct. 30.

Reflecting on the significance of the museum project, Adjaye said: “It has been an honor to work alongside Thelma Golden, the Board of Trustees, and the entire Studio Museum team to craft a new home for the Studio Museum—one that will build on the museum’s incredible legacy and deepen its relationships with the local community and an expanding global audience. Above all, we have sought to create spaces that celebrate the rich heritage of the institution, its relationship with artists and its role as a pillar of Harlem’s cultural life. Inspired by the architectural character of the neighborhood and featuring various scales of gallery space that speak to the diverse needs of contemporary artists, the design seeks to ensure that artistic dialogue remains at the heart of the Museum.”

“We have sought to create spaces that celebrate the rich heritage of the institution, its relationship with artists and its role as a pillar of Harlem’s cultural life. Inspired by the architectural character of the neighborhood and featuring various scales of gallery space that speak to the diverse needs of contemporary artists, the design seeks to ensure that artistic dialogue remains at the heart of the Museum.” — David Adjaye

The Studio Museum provided the following details about the new building’s design and specifications:

    Taking its cues from the brownstones, churches, and bustling sidewalks of Harlem, David Adjaye’s design provides the Studio Museum with a dynamic, sculptural facade that contrasts strongly with the surrounding commercial buildings.

    The building has a porous, welcoming presence at street level, a light-filled core that soars up through the entire interior, and a tiered public hall, which the architect has likened to an “inverted stoop” that invites people to step down from the street into a multiuse space that will be free and open to the public during museum hours and used for presentations and informal gatherings.

    The museum’s new home provides:
    • an increase of approximately 115 percent in space for exhibiting art and conducting the Artist-
    in-Residence program, from the existing 8,050 square feet to almost 17,300 square feet
    • an increase of some 47 percent in indoor space for education, public programs, and public
    amenities, from 6,340 square feet to more than 9,300 square feet
    • and an increase in outdoor space of 105 percent, from 3,900 square feet to almost 8,000
    square feet.

    The 82,000-square-foot structure includes:
    • a lower level for presentations (lectures, screenings, performances, educational activities, etc.),
    a welcome center, a café, and public amenities
    • five floors at street level and above
    • and a roof terrace spanning the entire building.

Renderings of the new light-filled building show expansive exhibition galleries and welcoming space for community gathering. Glenn Ligon’s “Give Us a Poem (Palindrome #2),” a 2007 neon work composed of the words “ME/WE” which is currently displayed prominently in the museum’s atrium, is also featured in the renderings. The work references a poem by Muhammad Ali. After a 1975 speech at Howard University, a student asked Ali to recite a poem. He simply said “me, we,” emphasizing the importance of the relationship and connection between the individual and the community.

 


“Give Us a Poem (Palindrome #2),” a 2007 neon work by Glenn Ligon composed of the words “ME/WE” is currently displayed prominently in the museum’s atrium, is also featured in the renderings for the new building. | Adjaye Associates

 

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING CONSTRUCTION

FOUNDED BY A DIVERSE GROUP of artists, activists, philanthropists, and residents of Harlem, the Studio Museum in Harlem opened its doors in September 1968 in a loft space on Fifth Avenue near West 125th Street.

“Fifty years ago, our visionary founders answered the urgent and necessary call for this institution to come into existence. Since then, its work has proved to be instrumental in transforming the entire cultural landscape. Literally hundreds of vital artists, and the countless people who have been touched by their creations, can look back today and say in wonder and gratitude that, if not for the Studio Museum, the cultural world would be a vastly different place,” said Raymond J. McGuire, Chairman, Studio Museum’s Board of Trustees.

“Fifty years ago, our visionary founders answered the urgent and necessary call for this institution to come into existence. …If not for the Studio Museum, the cultural world would be a vastly different place.”
— Raymond J. McGuire, Chairman of the Studio Museum’s Board of Trustees

The museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary in September 2018 and will continue to offer art and education programs during the interim period while its new home is in development. inHarlem, the museum’s initiative presenting special projects throughout the neighborhood remains ongoing in collaboration with its cultural partners.

In anticipation of construction beginning in fall 2018, the museum is presenting its final exhibitions in the current building. “Fictions,” a major survey of recent work by emerging artists of African descent; “We Go as They,” featuring the work by the museum’s latest cohort of artists in residence Autumn Knight, Julia Phillips, and Andy Robert; and “Their Own Harlems,” celebrating the centennial of Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000) with works, mostly from the collection, by more than 15 artists paying homage to Lawrence and the urban landscape, are on view through January 2018.

“Our roster of programs, exhibitions, and activities during our anniversary celebrations in 2018 and 2019 will take place in Harlem, throughout New York, and far afield. Even while we build, we will aim to spread the excitement, insight, and inspiration of the artists we represent and serve,” Golden said.

During construction, the museum is taking steps to share its collection with the public. It is partnering with the American Federation of Arts for an exhibition of selected works from its collection that will tour six venues around the country from 2019-2020. Meanwhile, “20/20: The Studio Museum in Harlem and Carnegie Museum of Art” is currently on view in Pittsburgh. Presenting works by 40 artists from the collections of both museums, the exhibition runs through Dec. 31, 2017.

The Studio Museum’s newly designed website presents information about programs and initiatives. The museum’s new building, exhibition archive (dating to 2010), renowned permanent collection, and latest magazine, are also highlighted on the site, which includes a new detailed historic timeline. The site will be an invaluable resource and guide during the transition.

A shining beacon in Harlem, the museum’s new home will pay tribute to the critical role it has played for half a century—providing a platform for artists of African descent, training curators who are now spreading their influence at institutions around the world, and transforming worldwide opportunities and perspectives in the art world.

Joining the chorus of praise from New York City officials, Bill Perkins, City Council Member for District 9, said: “Whether you look at it from the viewpoint of education, the economy, civil rights and civil liberties, or the sheer joy of great art, The Studio Museum in Harlem is an institution we must support, now and in the future. It is truly our beacon—and with its new building, it will shine more brightly than ever.” CT

 

BOOKSHELF
The museum has published countless publications to accompany its exhibitions over the years. Recent catalogs include “Rodney McMillian” and “Alma Thomas.” Meanwhile, “Making a Museum in the 21st Century,” featuring architect David Adjaye, offers invaluable insight about the future of museum design.

 


The materials for architect David Adjaye’s design of the new Studio Museum in Harlem include precast concrete frames with polished black aggregate panels, brass, terrazzo, wood, and glass. | Adjaye Associates