MoMA trustees pledge $260 million for expansion

Works from the Museum of Modern Art’s fabled collection continue their world tours for another year


Two years into construction, the steel frame is up and the new Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is taking shape in midtown New York. The project is far enough along that a hard-hatted visitor can tour floor after floor of raw space, getting a feel for the 630,000-square-foot complex scheduled to open in 2005.

Its Japanese architect, Yoshio Taniguchi, has tried to answer the question, “How to create architecture that’s completed by the pictures rather than hostile to them?”

If his reserved, modernist design proves to be world-class, so is the patronage that made it possible. The museum has raised some $600 million towards its goal of $858 million, an unprecedented sum for a US museum campaign.

The initiative, launched in 1998, rivals even the creation of the billion-dollar Getty Center in Los Angeles. Early on, New York City pledged $65 million and New York State promised another $10 million, but the top gifts are from the deep pockets of MoMA’s trustees, perhaps the most powerful and dedicated board of any museum in the world.

The museum will not reveal who gave how much, only that “several board members contributed a total of approximately $260 million for specific spaces within the new museum, which will be named in their honour.” Those six benefactors are:

o Peggy and David Rockefeller for the new gallery building by Taniguchi.

o Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder for renovation of the 1939 building at 11 West 53rd Street.

o Catie and Donald Marron for the atrium of the new building.

o Lewis B and Dorothy Cullman for the Education and Research Building.

o Edward John Noble for the Education Center in the Education and Research Building.

o Celeste Bartos for the new theatre, also housed in the Education and Research Building.

The museum needs another quarter billion dollars to reach $858 million—the target includes the costs of real estate, design, construction, endowment, and moving to a temporary facility in Queens—and according to director Glenn Lowry, even after the economic downturn, the campaign is exceeding projections, having taken in $78 million in fiscal year 2002 and $83 million in fiscal year 2003. The museum says announcements of additional donors, and new art acquisitions are forthcoming.

With its midtown home closed, MoMA has taken up residence across the East River in a facility dubbed MoMA QNS. The museum is presenting its exhibition programme there through September 2004, after which the building will convert to a study and storage centre.

Some of MoMA’s collection is now in storage, some is infelicitously installed in ugly rooms in MoMA QNS, some is on loan to local institutions, and some is travelling the world in a series of exhibitions (see box).

MoMA refuses to discuss the financial arrangements, so it is difficult to gauge how much the travelling shows will generate. A spokesperson says the income will not go towards the new building, but to support the operating budget, which “is distinct from the capital campaign.” Not every exhibition will earn a fee. The photo show in St Petersburg, for example, will be paid for by MoMA’s International Council, and it is hard to imagine that trustee Ronald Lauder will have to pay to borrow German art for his Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue.

A loan moratorium begins in June 2004 as the museum focuses on moving into the new building.

Follow the art

o Sculpture from MoMA, The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York, until August

Outdoor show of 15 large pieces usually in MoMA’s garden, including Rodin’s Balzac and St John preaching, Picasso’s She-goat, and works by Moore, Giacometti and Maillol.

o Visions and utopias: architectural drawings from MoMA, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany, until 3 August; Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Serralves, Porto, 19 September-31 December; National Building Museum, Washington DC, opening March 2004

o Looking at photographs: 125 masterworks from MoMA, State Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia, until 31 August; Pushkin Museum, Moscow, 23 September-16 November.

o An update of John Szarkowski’s 1973 book Looking at photographs, reissued in Russian with a coda of 25 works made since 1970.

o From Expressionism to the Bauhaus: highlights from MoMA, Neue Galerie, New York, until 15 September

An ideal opportunity for MoMA trustee and Neue Galerie founder Ronald Lauder to raid the storerooms for German works by Dix, Feininger, Hannah Höch, Kirchner, Klee, and Marc, as well as design objects by Behren, Breuer, and Wilhelm Wagenfeld.

o Stranger in the Village: contemporary drawings and photographs from MoMA, Guild Hall, East Hampton, New York, 9 August-20 October

Catch-all with works by Janine Antoni, Vija Celmins, Andreas Gursky, William Kentridge, Louise Lawler, Bruce Nauman, Chris Ofili, and Kara Walker.

o Visions of Modern art: painting and sculpture from MoMA, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, 21 September-4 January, 2004

o MoMA in Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany, 18 February-19 September, 2004

The blockbuster par excellence, the 209 works include Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, 15 Matisse paintings, 11 Picassos, three Pollocks, three Hoppers, de Kooning’s “Woman I” and hulking contemporary works such as Serra’s leaning-lead “Intersection II”.

o The Russian avant-garde book: 1910-34, Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany, 24 September-25 January, 2004

o Modern artists make prints: masterworks from MoMA, AXA Gallery, New York, 9 October-26 January, 2004

Sheets by Toulouse-Lautrec, Munch, Nolde, Picasso, Johns, Lichtenstein, Baselitz, and Bourgeois.

o MoMA at El Museo, El Museo del Barrio, New York, 4 March-25 July, 2004

Another local show, this one a curatorial collaboration, surveys Latin American Modernism and contemporary art.

o Modern means: continuity and change in art, 1880 to now highlights from MoMA, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 27 April-1 August, 2004

The product of a management deal that MoMA signed with Mori, this blockbuster is a thematic arrangement of 400 works in all media by Munch, Malevich, Picasso, Warhol, Hesse, and Koons, photos by Man Ray, Weston, and Frank, drawings by van der Rohe, and film and media by Viola, Gary Hill, and Paul Pfeiffer.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'MoMA trustees pledge $ quarter billion'