One of the world's most famous art museums, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has undergone a major redesign by a Japanese architect. The museum is reopening in midtown Manhattan with a new look after two years and $425 million worth of renovation.
The Museum of Modern Art draws art enthusiasts from all over the world to see the works of such artists as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol. Now, visitors will see that artwork in a newly expanded, 58,000-square-meter space that is about twice the size of the old museum.
The five floors of exhibition space are wide open rooms with soaring white walls and smooth oak floors. Natural light filters in from outdoors, and high ceilings add to the feeling of expansiveness that the new design conveys.
The museum is Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi's first building design in the United States, though he has designed several museums in Japan. He says he intended to give new life to the 75-year-old Museum of Modern Art, which is nicknamed MOMA. "Architecture should talk for itself, so I do not have to explain what I did," said Yoshio Taniguchi. "But the most important theme of the design was promoting the MOMA's rebirth as a museum while maintaining history and tradition. My goal was to create a total environment for people and art rather than expression of a particular style of architecture."
The museum reopens this week after spending two years at a location outside Manhattan while its residence on 53rd Street was being reworked.
Museum director Glenn Lowry says the new design allows those who view the art to experience the commonalties between the artists and the different styles of art. "There is a seamless flow between the gallery spaces, such as the one we are in now, and the public spaces, with views that cut across each department in each part of the museum, providing glimpses, peeling away, if you wish, the walls to allow new associations to be made between works of art and other works of art. In doing that, he has exploded the museum open to the city, made it an integral part of the dense urban environment in which we exist," he said.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the museum each year. About 150,000 pieces are on display, including the famous impressionist painting by Claude Monet called Water Lilies, the delicate sculpture of a woman atop an Egyptian style chariot by the Swiss-born Alberto Giacometti, and the frenzied paint-strokes of American artist Jackson Pollack in his piece, White Light.