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New Museum Announces Major Expansion Plan

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Photo courtesy: New Museum/Dean Kaufman, 2015.
Photo courtesy: New Museum/Dean Kaufman, 2015.

The New Museum has launched an $80 million capital campaign to fund a major expansion of its Bowery headquarters and to support new and existing programs.

The plan involves renovating and fully integrating a six-floor warehouse building located just to the south of the institution’s main exhibition space at 235 Bowery. The New York Times reported that the project “would increase the museum’s footprint… to a little more than 100,000 square feet, from 58,000 square feet now.”  The museum purchased 231 Bowery is 2008 for $16 million. In the past decade, it’s been used as an experimental gallery space and, more recently, as the home of NEW INC, the museum’s creative incubator.

Museum board members have already committed $43 million to the capital campaign. As the Times noted, the institution started in 1977 in a single room. After moving to the Bowery from Soho in 2007, it has grown tremendously. There are now 400,000 visitors every year. Board President James-Keith Brown said, “Our building is just too small for what we’re doing.” The Times asked him if there are long-term plans to tear down the neighboring building to make room for “something more ambitious.” His response:  “I wouldn’t say that yet. It’s not not on the table, but it’s not something that we’re pursuing right now.”

More details from a press release put out this morning:

After nearly a decade on the Bowery, during which visitation has grown by 400 percent and the number of people served by its programs has grown 4,000 percent, the New Museum is bursting at the seams. Renovating its adjacent property at 231 Bowery will provide additional space for programs while adding urgently needed office and support spaces. The expansion effort will ultimately enable the Museum to double its exhibition galleries, expand educational initiatives, improve circulation, add more public amenities, and improve the visitor experience. “With our fortieth anniversary approaching, the New Museum is preparing for our next step as a pioneer for new models in the cultural arena,” said James Keith Brown. “We will expand into our adjacent building, further grow our global exhibitions and programs, and continue to lead in distinctive technology initiatives. The Museum’s energy and creativity will enable us to explore how we can further advance our founding tenets and our mission of ‘New Art, New Ideas.’”

It will be at least a year before the museum develops a specific renovation proposal.  Such artists as James Rosenquist, Robert Indiana, and Will Insley  called 231 Bowery home over the years. Some artists were still living and working on the upper floors as of a few years ago.

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