The Bronx Museum of the Arts, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has embarked on a $21m capital project to construct a new multi-storey entrance and lobby. The project, supported by city and state funds, is being overseen by the New York-based architecture firm Marvel and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, on behalf of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and is expected to be completed in 2025.
The museum last underwent a renovation between 2004 and 2006 as part of a $19m expansion designed by the Miami-based firm Arquitectonica, encompassing the addition of a 17,000 sq. ft wing comprised of galleries, offices and an outdoor sculpture courtyard. The Marvel-led renovation will connect the two buildings and feature large street-facing walls for art on the corner of Grand Concourse and 165th Street.
The Bronx Museum was founded in 1971 by community leaders and activists to boost cultural activity in the borough, through a partnership between the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which loaned around 30 paintings from its collection for the museum’s inaugural exhibition. It was relocated from 161st Street to to a former synagogue donated by the city of New York on 165th Street in 1982.
The museum has carved out an identity for championing programmes and exhibitions related to social justice, including having a strong focus on BIPOC, women and LGBTQ artists. It has highlighted some major artists in recent years, including holding a Sanford Biggers retrospective in 2020, exhibitions devoted to Diana Al-Hadid and Eddie Martinez in 2018, and the first museum retrospective of Martin Wong in 2015-16.
Its Artists in the Marketplace (AIM) fellowship, an artist development programme supporting emerging artists, in the past has provided a platform to artists including Firelei Báez, Jacolby Satterwhite and Njideka Akunili Crosby at crucial moments in their career. Its fifth AIM biennial edition, Bronx Calling: The Fifth Artists in the Marketplace (AIM) Biennial, examines the relationship between individual and communal needs, and considers the creative process in light of the isolation wrought by Covid-19.
Over the past decade, the museum has experienced unprecedented growth in attendance, increasing its annual visitor figures from 25,000 to more than 100,000. The expansion “will provide an enhanced gathering space for our communities and amplify our ability to educate, engage and accommodate our visitors”, Klaudio Rodriguez, the director of the museum, says in a statement.