Studio Museum in Harlem raises $210m for new David Adjaye building

Site for black artists expected to open in 2024 with site-specific commission by Theaster Gates

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Rendering for the Studio Museum in Harlem's lobby © Adjaye Associates

Rendering for the Studio Museum in Harlem's lobby © Adjaye Associates

The Studio Museum in Harlem, an institution that champions the work of Black artists, has raised $210m for the construction, endowment and operating fund for its new building on 125th Street in Manhattan.

The David Adjaye-designed building spans 82,000 sq. ft and will feature a site-specific commission by the celebrated artist Theaster Gates made with building materials extracted from the former museum, symbolising the legacy of the old building and keeping alive the hand of J. Max Bond Jr, the influential Black architect who designed the original building.

An event held this week marked progress in the construction, which was first announced in 2017 and broke ground in 2018, coinciding with the museum’s 50th anniversary. The museum’s director and chief curator, Thelma Golden, says the building “will be a physical manifestation of our mission, supporting and enabling everything we do for artists of African descent, for our beloved community of Harlem and for New York City and our visitors from around the world”.

The new building is expected to open in 2024 and replaces a 20th-century former bank that the museum has occupied since 1982. It spans five storeys and features around 17,000 sq. ft of exhibition space, an increase from around 8,000 sq. ft, as well as expanded outdoor, educational and office spaces. There is also a roof terrace and spaces for artists in residence.

The museum holds more than 2,000 works in its permanent collection, including artists such as Romare Bearden, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Kara Walker. The capital campaign, which includes funds from public and private donors, including a $62m pledged by the city of New York, exceeded its original goal of $175m, and will extend its target to $250m.

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