With a $450 Million Expansion, MoMA Is Bigger. Is That Better?

The museum added 47,000 square feet of gallery space, a spiffy new canopy and a restaurant. “It’s smart, surgical, sprawling and slightly soulless,” our critic writes.

Comments: 223

  1. 3,000,000 visitors a year sounds overwhelming. Sometimes growth kills.

  2. @Steve Bear in mind that if someone goes to a museum every month—as happens at many museums—it gets counted as 12 visitors.

  3. @Jean But they are still there 12 times...

  4. @Jean Huh?

  5. No mention of MoMa Queens- the old Nabisco(?) factory, which was a marvelous exhibit space and actually motivated the trek to that outer borough, while the main building was being “re-thought).

  6. @MAR The Nabisco factory is Dia:Beacon.

  7. It breaks my heart that the, yes "soulless", MoMA expands and expands while the Met, which has done such brilliant curating in the Breuer building, can no longer afford to keep that program going.

  8. @Altoon don't be fooled. The Met can absolutely afford to keep the Met Breuer program going, but they are choosing not to. It's poor management, a result of running the museum like a for-profit corporation and relying on megadonors to fund and approve of every step they take.

  9. @Alex G. They will save $45 million by closing the Breuer exhibition program. But I agree that there have been poor management decisions all along, like now charging admission. But for me, the Met is a place of solace, of inspiration, which MoMA certainly is not. Of course I'll have to see if the new MoMA still feels like I'm being herded through galleries.

  10. If the modern movement was born of rebellion and discovery, then the museum as place lost all connection to that defining mood long ago. Perhaps there’s no way to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors each day and maintain some soul but with each successive expansion the effort faltered. I, for one, thought Tanaguchi’s building was sublime, A work that at least captured and then heightened the essence of minimalism. The voluminous cube decried in the article was humbling and centering and imbued one with the emotion of a real starry night. It placed everything, especially the exhibits, into thought provoking perspectives. The loss of Williams and Tsien’s masterpiece is indeed a travesty. The super tall in its place is just gross but it, along with the big bedecked box next door are most telling of this corporate, money besotted age.

  11. As usual, another excellent and intelligent article by Mr. Kimmelman. Thank you. Unfortunately, the Museum of Modern Art might be expanding as a work in progress, but the art is no longer important or intellectually challenging. Art has become obsolete. The expansion underlines the current function of art exhibit sites as spaces for social interaction, not art as a visual exploration and extension of human intelligence. Art has been reduced to its basic function of decoration. It's a disappointment that the Museum of Modern Art has been destroyed successfully by Post-Modernism. Now, it is just a huge living room decorated with outmoded art.

  12. @ART Dito!!!

  13. @ART using the expansion of a single museum as a springboard to declare all art obsolete is... a bit much. To each their own, but I find it profoundly arrogant to generalize the collective experience of 3 million people a year as entirely social and otherwise devoid of intellectual value. The artist-curated retrospective currently running at the Guggenheim implicitly (and rather successfully) argues against modern art as being "outmoded", even while presenting it with a critical eye.

  14. @ART Fine. Stay home. Those of us who want to be there will go and find many things to inspire us. Frankly, I find the idea of three and a half million people making the effort to see modern art to be thrilling. I only wish more people would come. If you want a break from the crowd, head to the Frick or the Morgan or to the better galleries or the smaller regional museums (the Michener Museum and the Newark Museum are well worth the trip). “Art is obsolete.” What a silly statement!

  15. Shuttling 3 million people a year can only be done in a mall-like fashion. The original MOMA was a small museum capable of being seen in one visit without rushing thru on museum feet. Recognition that we now have 150 years of modern art vs the original 75 years does demand more space, more complexity in relating the art to itself and its antecedents. (And, museums are businesses now rather than taking the older academic approach.) However, the intimacy is lost.

  16. I miss the MOMA of the 50’s-70’s. It was a very meditative place. One could go see the modern paintings, that required quiet contemplation and time to view them, and have that time. The garden was sublime. Now, last I was there, after the previous renovations, the museum had taken on the zoo/mall feeling that the rest of the city has taken on; needless to say not meditative...sometimes progress isn’t.

  17. @Xfarmer Yes, I used to go on the weekends when I was a child. It was like visiting a friend. I've pretty much stopped going in recent years, except to see particular shows. The latest incarnation felt like a GAP superstore. Fingers crossed about this one, but no great expectations.

  18. @Xfarmer What you miss is not the museum from decades ago but the fewer people in it. Central Park used to be "a very meditative place" too. Now, it's a verdant Time Square albeit without the neon El Capitans. Uh-oh. I hope Google isn't listening. I'm still trying to unsee the floating digital billboard sullying the Hudson River this past summer. "Wicked" indeed.

  19. @Xfarmer Yes, NYC is no longer the wonderful city it used to be with quaint working class neighborhoods, bohemian areas, artists living in abandoned warehouses, writers, and musicians. And Times Square was populated by interesting humanity. This environment that defined the city does not exist any longer. It all ended, interestingly, when I left the city in 1990. Now NYC is all about tourists and the rich from all over world, in general, with some exceptions, not interested in culture and intellectual challenges.

  20. Excellent review. It would be interesting and bold for institutions like MOMA to stop trying to compress the modern all into one building. The experiment of MOMA Queens, I believe in the old public school, was a step into reimagining the basic geography of consuming art in radically new contexts. Further, there was a sense that the mission coincided with education and interaction, not simple consumption. The Brooklyn Museum, among others, has found clever ways to engage the surrounding community in a way that feels local and universal at once. It’s not alone. There are ways MOMA could do other things like that - partnering with a CUNY school, developing its education mission in kind, and opening franchises across the city not in the best and most wealthy spots, but also in places where the making of the modern, and its celebration, could occur in communities where the current vision - and its grandeur - could transform into new actions, spaces, and conversations.

  21. @X Not sure why you're referring to MoMa PS1 (the "old public school") in the past tense. It's still there! And it still offers great exhibitions (and education and interactions) centered on contemporary art and artists. Take a (short) trip across the river and check it out.

  22. Keep the expansions coming, as flawed as they might be. Yes, the last one in 2004 had some odd spaces and a terrible entrance but included an open atrium; another previous upgrade turned MoMA into a mall. Each expansion taps into trends of the time, bringing along it's inherent problems. But the bottom line is the museum's stunning collection should be seen. Let the work get out there ( I look forward to seeing it on Friday).

  23. @Steve Giovinco How are you seeing it on Friday? It doesn't open until 10/21. Are you working on the museum?!!!

  24. I don't visit museums anymore. Nature, what little remains if it, is far more powerful and beautiful. Museums have made themselves into mausoleums. And priced themselves out of many peoples range.

  25. @NLL Of course nature is ultimately powerful - even when the GOP succeeds in decimating the Earth, it's an indiscernible pinprick in the natural order. Nature also defines beauty, and what you're missing in the museums is the attempt to create beauty using nature as our yardstick, our relative balance. Sometimes we manage it. Art is not an attempt to out-power or out-beauty nature; it's our tribute to it. Also, museums are not art stores. Art, by definition, is priceless no matter what they're charging for it. Museums are human-made forests with, sometimes, surprisingly inspiring trees. Drop by sometime.

  26. MoMA's chill is what keeps expanding. I stopped my membership years ago. "Soulless" is exactly how it feels. And, for the life of me, what is the current attraction for so many institutional structures to views of interior staircases? Seriously, it's become so derivative, much like what is described here about the Modern itself.

  27. It’s sad to imagine what $450 million could have bought MoMA in a different part of town. Surely, the cost of a brand-new construction would have exceeded $1 billion... but at least it would have afforded the museum, its guests, and the city itself a fresh start, unencumbered by decades of Frankenstein additions that burrow deeper into midtown like a rat’s nest, fittingly nestled at last into the bowels of Jean Nouvel’s hideous paean to plutocratic wealth. No museum is perfect — but MoMA is singularly lacking among its peers. The Met, itself a victim of ill-conceived expansions that inhibit curation for contemporary audiences, still affords visitors several magnificent, naturally-lit halls that illuminate the grandeur of the work contained within them; and despite arrogant design flaws, such as the lack of a continuous interior stairwell and a slavish reliance on elevators, the Whitney offers almost unparalleled flexibility for curatorial expression. I could go on and on, but the word limit! To be sure, a new MoMA construction would have been deeply divisive — look no further than Peter Zumthor’s planar blob design for LACMA to imagine the flavor of such a contest. And though I long detested the Zumthor proposal for its sprawl, I’ve grown to admire its tenacity, ambition, and sheer weirdness. It is, in fact, quite relentlessly modern — which is not a word I would use to describe MoMA’s space, cantilevers notwithstanding.

  28. Much though I love DS R, the task of designing the MoMA out of the hole they have dug was destined for failure. That the architects achieved a middling success is a testament to their earnestness and creativity. But surely the MoMA could have put some of this intelligence to their strategic planning and realized that a different model (Satellite sites? Franchising? Uber for Museums?) could have radically changed the way we visit, look at, and think about art.

  29. No surprises here except the telling graphic of our gradually metastasizing MoMA. The space grows, but progress certainly doesn’t. I feel bad for the original building with its spooling, asymmetrical awning and those wonderful smoky square panels. Surrounded by Johnson, Pelli, and Nouvel’s looming black towers (and their shadows!), it’s like a strangely beautiful bird on all sides caged. And the inside is no better. DSR has essentially gutted the place, turning the first floor into a members-only lounge, the second into an airport gift shop, the upper-most into temporary exhibition space, and apologizing for these sins by adding an extra length to the staircase, the museum’s Epcot-like paean to the Bauhaus. Nothing’s been done about the garden. Maybe that’s a good thing. Hopefully it will be less crowded. MoMA missed the opportunity that the Whitney so brilliantly took. By doubling down on Midtown real estate, they’ve surrendered their chance to expand and truly honor their promise to reinvigorate modernism for the 21st Century. Maybe next time they’ll actually be bold and move to Queens? Wouldn’t it be a supreme irony if someday the American Folk Art Museum returns to 53rd Street, taking up residence (and finally breathing some life) into those ice cold buildings formerly known as MoMA? For now I guess we’ll have to settle for the Post-Impressionist galleries no longer smelling like shrimp and asparagus soup...

  30. The irony is that the original building is now older than the houses it replaced where at the time they came down. I first visited before the Pelli expansion, when the domestic scale almost matched that of the Frick. There is no way to get that back, but I will always regret that the demolition of the Folk Art Museum. That a museum of the new pulled down the best of the new cannot be entirely papered over by the fact that they are finally going to exhibit the work of anything but white men from the US and a handful of European countries. These are not new stories, even if it took them this long to reach W 53rd Street.

  31. I never understood the presumed necessity of a cafe at an art museum. They inevitably occupy prime space, and inevitably feel like loud and overpriced food courts. Maybe some visitors enjoy that part of the art museum cafe experience, but it seems like such a sacrifice of space for such a pedestrian purpose. It's not like a visitor can't quickly find a proper cafeteria, cafe, coffee shop, or other restaurant in Midtown.

  32. @Shawn Cafes can be an important revenue source. If one wishes to spend a few hours at the museum, a coffee and snack break or lunch break is welcome on the premises. I have done volunteer work for administration of several museums, and know that some groups will meet in such a setting before doing a study session in galleries or attending talks. And gosh, some museums are great places for a dinner or lunch dates. MOMA’s restaurant, the Modern, is one I always visit when in NYC for a few days. Good wine list and lovely dining.

  33. @Shawn From the museum's perspective it is a worthwhile source of revenue, one of just a couple of places people spend money in a museum after already having been admitted. As a museum visitor, though, I also very much like having a good cafe. When I lived in NYC, I would occasionally visit a museum cafe to write for a few hours. I liked the environment better than a Starbuck's and it also would give me opportunity to visit just a few exhibits on the way out (my favorite way to take in a museum is a bit at a time). As a traveler, the cafe can also provide a light meal in the middle of a day-long museum visit.

  34. @Shawn Second only to the gift shop as the reason to go! I fondly recall my last visit to MOMA and having a lovely lunch with my wife and kids: seared tuna and a nice glass of wine. The Picasso sculpture exhibit was cool--but too full of people to enjoy. Lunch--we had our own table.

  35. Sorry to read the negative comments so far. I'll reserve my positive/negative/neutral comments until I've seen it with my own eyes and I think people should do the same. Unless, of course, some of the remarks are made by people who have had a preview of the renovated space.

  36. Interesting, but not for me. I prefer museums with the elegance and proportions of Greco-Roman temples. The word "museum" is derived from the ancient Greek for "muse," and I like the tie back to that common heritage. The Met (New York), the British Museum (London), the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), and most especially, the Acropolis/Parthenon Museum (Athens) are beautiful examples.

  37. Sadly, greatness has been watered down by politics, social trends and the absolute raw goal of money. It wasn't always this way. Museums once had fewer yet smarter attendees who knew and cared about art. These people are only second to the great artists whose work hangs on the walls and sits on its floors, as a rare and special sort of person. Now, everyone is "special" and the expansion is another indicator of how far we are willing to go to accommodate this ideology. Rare I suspect do many individuals amongst the tourist driven crowds, know or care anything about art, aside from a selfie to promote their ego on instagram. It presents a bigger issue, who are we building these institutions for? Our greatest public parks and cultural institutions are built not for New Yorkers, but for tourists. It has become unpleasant to step inside.

  38. @MCS Part of the continuing commodification of New York City as a whole? Like so many of the new ventures, like Hudson Yards? Where venerable, unique haunts that made the city interesting have all but disappeared, and replaced with soulless places that could be placed anywhere, and make the city look more and more like the places where the tourists and suburbanites come from.

  39. Why would a museum built to exhibit international modern art be created for one city's exclusive pleasure? If people who visit art museums don't engage more deeply in the viewer experience, is it not better that they experience art in some way than not at all?

  40. What arrogance! My first art experience was a Mark Tobey exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1958. I majored in art in college and spent Junior year in Europe. Now I live in San Francisco. Throughout the decades I have visited museums and galleries in NY. And now this New Yorker thinks I am not worthy enough to look at art in NY because I do not live there?

  41. So refreshing to read something written about The Modern, which is the museum we all grew up with...somehow when we weren't paying attention it became MoMA, dropping "the", and so it has become increasingly unfamiliar and surreal. And yes, despite the curators' best intention to shake things up, people will still want to know where Starry Night is. Idiosyncratic curation: I thought that died with the dismantling of the Barnes Collection. Bah humbug..

  42. The Barnes collection was moved, not dismantled. As someone who visited the Barnes all through my youth at the original, quirky, lovely location, I regretted the move. Here in the US we seem opposed to maintaining small, idiosyncratic, or hard to get to art museums, preferring the “bigger is better” path. I understand the desire to make museum accessible to more people—it’s a trade off. The Barnes collection still exists—in a far more central, brand new building. Is that better.....?

  43. @NorCal Curly It is my understanding that the idiosyncratic *presentation* of the Barnes Collection was not preserved in the move. And that Albert Barnes' very personal presentation really irked art historians. Part of the reason of busting the trust was to free up the collection so that the new curators could curate it as they liked. And in town, not out in Merion. As I said, it looks as if MoMA is heading in direction of Albert Barnes...putting apparently unrelated things together to make some curatorial point or to amuse the unwashed. The MoMa will be like walking through a magazine, not through a traditional collection. Each to his own, I am a traditionalist.

  44. You wanted soul? Do what Europe does- hold an open competition with enough time to do a wonderful job and make it open to American Architects. The Architecture profession in the United States (and most of the world) has been fully corrupted from time of the Pyramids. Europe has made some inroads towards opening competitions to all licensed practitioners, but the United States has become more corrupt in the age Trump, not less. Genius in all the arts lies buried. Fame does not equate with talent. It never has. Sometimes. Sure. Rarely- more common. An open and anonymous competition process is the only fair thing to do, long past due, and sure to help in the search for resonant and original art and architecture.

  45. This is an architecture review, not a review of the success or failure of the art-viewing experience. In fact, when Mr. Kimmelman mentions that experience (in the performance galleries at the base of the Nouvel section), he begrudgingly admits it's pretty good. You can lament the fact that MoMA ate the block, or feel the architecture is bland, or feel nostalgia for the "old" Modern. But I'll reserve judgement until I see the art. And by the way, for those who wish MoMa had abandoned midtown like the Whitney did: have you been to the new Whitney? The problem of moving masses of people though galleries hasn't been solved there, either. Lots of people visit these wonderful museums, which sometimes get crowded. As New Yorkers, we may wish these visitors would stay away. But that's the price you pay for being a world-class art city.

  46. Why learn from past mistakes when you can just double down? Look at the floor plan pictured in the article. The once reasonably sized MoMA has expanded to a degree that resembles a diagram of Napoleon conquering Europe. For God's sake's it's nearly an entire Manhattan city block. None of those expansions have made the visitor's experience any better, and I fail to see how this will. There becomes a size where a museum is simply too large to encourage an appreciation of art. Visitors are so concerned with "seeing it all" that it becomes a race through endless galleries without taking in any one thing in particular. "Museum feet" is a real thing and it's why most museums I treasure can be done in 1.5 or 2 hours, not a day trip with guided apps and streams of shopping mall traffic. I can't help but think of smaller gems of modern art museums like the Louisiana Museum in Denmark or the Fondation Beyeler in Basel - places that allow a focused, purposeful visit of a museum. This was never going to be the model of MoMA, which long ago ceased being a museum and essentially became a real estate developer with a really impressive art collection. But did they need to go this far? They really tore down the beloved Folk Art Museum for this behemoth? And - since too much is never enough - what is next? Should St Thomas Church next door be worried?

  47. @Solaris I for one welcome the extra breathing room. The MoMA of the past few years was a sardine can.

  48. I've stopped a long time ago to visit the Moma - to me it just feels like a gigantic playground for very, very rich people: why a new $450 million building? Because we can. To bad for Starry Night and maybe too bad for me, but they'll always have the tourists for sure. I've slowly drifted towards the appreciation of "cheap art", old canvasses with some paint on it that can be found at flea markets and what not. No presence of genius there, and yet, there is often something: the sometimes naive attempt by the amateur artist to express, however clumsily, the metaphysical vertigo that seizes us when we truly feel alive. That's enough for me.

  49. @Eric At $100 admission a family of four is pressed to afford a visit- and lunch would set them back an additional $60. Poor people go home.

  50. @Jeff Witson Or you could go when admission is free, as I have always done. Poor people, welcome!

  51. @Jeff Witson - Your "family of four" doesn't have to have lunch in the museum. There's a phenomenal Halal truck on the corner of 53rd & 6th. $5/a meal. And have you heard? go when the admission is free on Friday nights. That's how you do it.

  52. I love MoMa but time for a second location. So much is in storage and goes for years without being shown. Time for the Met and MoMa to open locations in Brooklyn, or above 96 th st on the East Side .Not only for diversification for people of different social levels and ethnic backgrounds but to help revitalize neighborhoods. MoMa mid town is to hard to get to and traffic congestion’s by cars and people.

  53. @Cliff leonard Yes, and reduced admission charge in the annexes you suggest

  54. @LSR MoMA PS1 costs $10. If you have a MoMA ticket it's good to enter PS1 for free for 14 days.

  55. Just as the phenomenon of "induced demand" will invite more visitors to the newly expanded MoMA, it will invite more artists to make bigger "spectacle art" (as it's so often called)--the kind that requires enormous exhibition space and pleases museum-goers primarily via the "wow" factor. I just returned from Santa Fe, where I saw the quiet and exquisitely beautiful Agnes Pelton exhibition at the smallish New Mexico Museum of Art (the show comes to the Whitney Museum in Spring 2020). This remarkable transcendental modernist painter would almost certainly be crushed and swallowed up by the new MoMA. Those of us who love painting or any other kind of contemplative art have always gone to MoMA in search of being moved by what we see. The chances of a sensitive person seeking visual meaning in an art space that resembles an Apple Store or "Darth Vader's hedge fund headquarters" are close to nil.

  56. @Emile The pressure to create large works of scale leads is terrible. And larger does not equal better. Large simply means more storage requirement and more materials: a bigger carbon and environmental footprint. It also creates real challenges for artists. They are forced into larger studios with larger storage spaces. Logistics becomes as important as art making. Finally, so much bad art is dignified through scale.

  57. I look forward to seeing the new MoMA. I've always been a fan, although my first visit was perhaps the BEST. It was in the original 6-story building. I was met in the lobby, where a friend awaited my arrival and we rushed upstairs for lunch in the Member's dining room on the top floor. A tour of the museum followed, with the outstanding collection leaving me in a state of awe. And, then a film, as only MoMA could project: L'age d'Or, the surreal Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali film that has impressed me since seeing it. The Cesar Pelli expansion was wonderful as it brought light into the building and united it with the exterior garden. The Matisse gallery was particularly beautiful and meditative with its soft carpet. Walking through the collection was akin to walking through the history of modern art, a perfect place to introduce the uninitiated to the whole story from Pissarro through Picasso to Stella, Johns, Rauschenberg and beyond. I'll always miss being alone in a gallery with time and space to absorb the energy of each amazing work of art. I have a love-hate relationship to crowds. I love to see people exposing themselves to art ... but, I hate the commercial quality and the fight for space to see the work. Maybe the expanded MoMA has created the answer to this conundrum. As far as the soul goes ... the soul is imbued within our being. We must each bring our own curiosity, our eye, intellect, and our spirit to be nourished by art. That job rests with the viewer.

  58. Yoshio Taniguchi destroyed MOMA, originally a gorgeous building designed around its collection. The Yoshio Taniguchi version shuffled the art into look-alike cubicles and even stuffed great works of art into hallways. One favorite of mine hung at the end of a hallway facing a bank of elevators. The tiny, ugly galleries were always so crowded with tourists that viewing the art became difficult. To add insult to injury, admission ain't cheap and lunch costs quite a lot. A version with less soul is difficult to imagine.

  59. @Saba Well said. At the time he designed the addition Taniguchi said, "I want to make the architecture go away." So he accomplished his clients' program of giving MOMA a soulectomy.

  60. MoMa is located perfectly in the center of the city, and don't forget they also have a location in Queens. To cut down on congestion maybe they should expand the hours they're open. I'd go there at 4 in the morning to avoid the crowds.

  61. @Peter They don't have a location "In Queens". That's MOMAQNS,, a very different animal than the actual MOMA. And no, they're not expanding hours to after midnight.

  62. I was there in April and the crowds were unbelievable. The line started on 5th avenue and once we got in, it felt worse than being on the 6 train at rush hour. I was shocked they actually let that many people in at once, it was a fire hazard. I think I will only visit again at a very off-peak time. If that ever coincides with a future visit to NYC.

  63. @Rebecca - I laughed at your =6 train comment. Have you ever been on the "6 train at rush hour"? Yeah. Regardless, you clearly don't get to many world class museums, else your "shock" at the crowds wouldn't have given you the vapors. As for being a fire hazard-uh, nope. We have codes here in NYC, have you heard?

  64. Like Trump’s betrayal of the city, with his destruction of Bonwit Teller and its façade’s sculptures, I will never forgive MoMA for the destruction of the architectural jewel that was the Folk Art Museum. I watched its painstaking construction, so much detail poured into that magnificent sculptural façade, it surely could have been repurposed in some way, by minds more appreciative and less egotistical.

  65. @Brunella I couldn’t agree more!! The American Folk Art Museum was a treasure!! I was there before the museum opened for a discussion with Billie Tsien and Todd Williams in the basement of the American Folk Art Museum and it was just terrific to hear them talk about the design and it’s a tragedy that MoMA destroyed this building. I cancelled my MoMA membership and refused to ever go to MoMA again!

  66. @Brunella I heard the bronze Folk Art facade was saved and preserved.. is that true?

  67. The biggest design mistake that MoMA made with this expansion actually occurred before architects even sat down at the drafting table. The museum board allowed the ruinous Glenn Lowry to remain as it's head, and to oversee the expansion process. Mr. Lowry was responsible for the horrendous 2004 expansion with its pointless, seldom used atrium. That atrium is at the heart of virtually all circulation misery visitors are subjected to. Virtually everybody hates it. But Mr. Lowry loved it and refused to relinquish it as part of the new project. The MoMA board allowed an old and clouded partisan to hijack an endeavor that required a fresh eye. When it comes time to renew my MoMA membership, I am tempted to leave instructions that no part of my renewal fee be used to pay Mr. Lowry's undeserved salary.

  68. Every time I go to MoMA, it’s incredible, but it’s never enough. More of their collection deserves to be surfaced and enjoyed rather than locked away in storage. Art is like speech: more is almost always better.

  69. What is the entrance fee with this renovation?

  70. All building and no art. The atmosphere is cold and over sized. For a museum to be successful it’s entrance needs to be warmly inviting and welcoming not overly spacious and lacking in intimacy. Examples of a warmer art environment are The Hermitage in St. Petersburg and The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. The large building recedes and the art is in charge.

  71. @Michael Kittle I think I will hold back until I have seen the new MOMA with my own baby-blues.

  72. The Hermitage is anything but warm. It’s magnificent, over the top opulent, but not warm. It is swarmed w/ Chinese tourists being lead by flag-waving leaders. It is confusing to sort out entrance fees for special exhibits. The Hermitage is nothing like MOMA in any iteration.

  73. @Michael Kittle ......my visit to The Hermitage included small intimate spaces with gorgeous impressionist art of questionable provenance. There were places to sit down and commune with the art. I was shocked that some windows were open allowing direct sunlight on the oil paintings. The Van Gogh museum was completely enthralling with his paintings. The art was so dominant that one didn’t attend to the building at all. The photos of the new MOMA are more than sufficient to convey the space and atmosphere. I confess to a bias against modern boxy buildings. The glass pyramid at the The Louvre was a terrible mistake. I was shocked to see that The Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco copied the glass pyramid design for their own museum.

  74. Sounds just like the University of Michigan's new Natural History Museum. The old one was magical. The new one, like the MoMA addition, is cold (literally and metaphorically), unbelievably loud due to the sound-reflecting surfaces, and utterly unwelcoming even with its Disneyland-type crowd-management design.

  75. @Hypatia Agreed! The old UM Natural History Museum (historic Ruthven Building), was integral to the enjoyment of the museum's collections, truly magical — in the same way the Gallery of Paleontology and Comparative Anatomy Building in Paris is to its collection — inextricably, perfectly bound together. Shameful that UM's Regents were incapable of recognizing the Ruthven's importance.

  76. In any art museum, if you find yourself being as aware of the building as the art displayed, is this the mark of a successful design. In my view , no. Like service in a fine restaurant, they go about the tasks of serving the various courses unobtrusively and in a manner that enhances the enjoyment of the meal without bringing undue attention to itself. Museum architects would do well to consider this in their design concepts.

  77. Are we seeing ‘Met Envy’ in this reborn expansion? They have no Central Park to surround and invite, but bragging about showing more of the collection confirms that size matter in the 21st Century. Also delighted they have gotten beyond the connect the dots theory of Art History!

  78. @Susan Murphy You're showing your Mid Western tourist roots...we art "lovers" know that MOMA is a world class museum, our D'Orsay (while we have OUR Louvre, The Met). Two distinct art palaces, to those who actually know what art is.

  79. It's heartbreaking to see that photo from 1932 of those beautiful townhouses on 53rd Street that were destroyed to make way for the museum. Those townhouses exemplify architecture that is elegant and on a human scale -- qualities the designers of the various MOMA iterations know little about. That the people who replaced those townhouses with an ugly box didn't realize what they were doing says something about modern art in general.

  80. “ You may feel like you’re entering an Apple store.” You nailed it. As a long-time member I am very eager to see the new MoMA (and sad that my NY visit two weeks ago was a bit early). Forward is always the best direction, and for this museum with its international status and swelling collection of artish stuff that can only be synonymous with bigger. But I can’t escape the notion that the art experience has been left somewhere far behind, in favor of the ambiguous “destination” experience.

  81. One way to approach the reality of MOMA is to follow the direction of American culture at every iteration of the Museums expansions. Art through history is an interesting path in the endeavor to understand political changes in the world. Michael Kimmelman brings up Manifest Destiny in an illuminating description of a spirit present in his passage through the new essence of MOMA. My MOMA education began in 1951 and it was an unforgettable beginning to what I was to do for a lifetime. That 1951 MOMA set me in search of other museums throughout the world, always returning to West 53rd or 54th until the Whitney moved uptown. Still living with less awe I am reminded daily of our reality and it's grotesqueness embodied by a Real Estate President so I wont be going: the thrill is gone.

  82. So many art museums turn warmth into cold, soulfulness into emptiness. A case in point is the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. The renovation from a few years ago features a huge, cold, exclusionary wall leading to the entrance. Nothing could be more unwelcoming. It sounds like MoMA has gone in a similar direction. At least the Clark didn't destroy its neoclassical building, which remains its jewel and the home of its permanent collection; it only added a chilly building for temporary exhibitions. And that wall.

  83. It is indeed sad,that wall, as is the new exhibit space which always feels like a temporary dark basement installation. But you must admit that the outside space is glorious to sit in, to watch the reflections of the zillion stones in the shallow water of the pool, to walk over those flat bridges and to look at the hills now visually connected to your space.

  84. Shouldn't there be at least one commenter who suggests that spending a half billion dollars to renovate a perfectly functional art museum is just slightly obscene, especially when the people who throw that sort of cash around are constantly pretending to care about poverty and inequality?

  85. @Chuck French I've been there and it wasn't "perfectly functional." That's why they're trying to improve it. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.

  86. French cinéaste Jaques Tati famously said « Trop de couleur nuit au spectateur » and with the MOMA, it is not too much color that hinders the spectator, it is that the MOMA has become too much everything. Too much space, too many sprawling installations, too much glass, too much steel, too large an imprint, too many people to please....and too little soul. Hélas the pangs of nostalgia are becoming too much.

  87. Our current family car, a Subaru Forester, has lasted longer than the most recent MOMA renovation. Cleary, the MOMA renovation(s)--no different than the spoiled rich redoing their homes every decade or buying a new Tesla every year or two--demonstrate Fredric Jameson's point, made 35 years ago, that "culture" is fully integrated into the economic.

  88. More condo tax abatements. More restaurants. More retail sales. Art? What art?

  89. @DCBinNYC The art of the deal...

  90. Funny how all the galleries could be anywhere, any country. Generic white box. I worked in a white box. Felt like an insane asylum. Had a nervous breakdown. Got a job in a small bakery in Brooklyn. Best job I ever had. $7.50 an hour. All my friends dropped in for free coffee and baked goods.

  91. @Zaldid Sorn-Where IS Chiberia, anyway?

  92. @Zaldid Sorn — you stole from your employer to give to your friends? And this bragging about pilfering is relevant to the MOMA expansion how?

  93. The cafe looks simply ghastly. Cold, inhuman, generic, all the things I make a point to escape.

  94. I loved the bathrooms with the gold plated condom machines

  95. What a waste!!! $450 million would have educated thousands of poor kids or paid for the healthcare of thousands of poor people.

  96. The problem with MOMA is that there is no longer such a thing as "modern art" except as it manifests itself in such grottoes of the form as Design Within Reach. You should realize you have a problem when the museum shop generates more excitement for visitors than the exhibit spaces. MOMA needs more than cosmetic changes; it needs a new mission.

  97. The ever reliable Mr. Kimmelman's tagline "slightly souless" is the rub. He also cites the stories of Borges and the last museum's galleries were laid out like the mad city in the story "The Immortal". It had no emotion, no excitement. It was like taking the conveyor belt through the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London: "And here's Matisse, and next is a bunch of Brancusi sculptures, move along, move along..." I had a private tour explaining the rationale of the last redo and what I enjoyed most was the explanation of the walkway views of the building, nothing to with the actual art. But the crowds have taken any hope of fun out the The Modern. You can't contemplate a work of art with a hundred people nudging you to take a selfie. The Met remains the city's greatest cultural center. Except they too, in need of cash, are playing too much to fashion and attempts at being hip. You know what's hip? An ancient Chinese ritual bronze at The Met or the shifting spatial dimensions at The Modern of the large Jackson Pollacks. I think when The Modern had to return Guernica, it lost it's most vital appendage. I don't hold much hope that this renovation will bring back the pleasure that once was this museum, but we'll have to see in person.

  98. and, bland.

  99. How’s the food?

  100. Welcome to Apple.

  101. "MoMA’s new galleries..." I thought the NYT had a policy of writing a contracted/abbreviated place name as a word when it is in practice pronounced as a word, such that MoMA's as here should be Moma's. You do it for out Lacma, even though no one but no one here does that. It is always LACMA. Feeling a bit precious (and seeming a bit phony) about your own, it seems.

  102. @James McCarthy Whose feeling about precious (and a bit envious that Lacma isn't MOMA) here? Hmmmmm...

  103. Wading through this review's overuse of metaphors and similes was annoying to the extent that the most valuable part of the review was its visual aid: the map of expansions.

  104. "Slightly soulless?" Is that possible?

  105. ' ... a canyon of glass and steel that can bring to mind the headquarters of Darth Vader’s hedge fund.' Had to stop there and applaud some great writing - something we don't see much in the NYT.

  106. American Folk Art Museum????!!!! Soulless is a perfect word to describe MOMA.

  107. Well written quote of the day: "headquarters of Darth Vader’s hedge fund." smiles

  108. MOMA seems to be the Costco of art.

  109. "Along the way, the Modern did a lot to transform 53rd Street into what is today a canyon of glass and steel that can bring to mind the headquarters of Darth Vader’s hedge fund." Soooooo good!

  110. Thanks for your review of the Museum of New York City Real Estate Development.

  111. All this opinionating - and it's not even open yet. That's New York for ya.

  112. How long did the photographer have to wait for a yellow cab to drive by for the photo? The dead tree is too perfect as a symbol too--.

  113. Can’t wait to see the next renovation!

  114. I hated the Taniguchi 2004 iteration—literally any change whatsoever must be an improvement.

  115. @John Could not agree more. The wonderfully cozy gem was turned into a building site that had more in common with a bus terminal. And the Williams-Tsien Folk building I'm sorry to say to its defenders was uncomfortable to be in and ghastly to look at. Perhaps that's why it was nearly always empty compared to MoMA.

  116. The MoMA has now become a destination on 53rd St., Manhattan. A thing in itself; not unlike the ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra. ... Sigh!

  117. @OAJ But unlike the Taj Mahal, the new MoMA is simply and sadly AGRA-vating.

  118. Hhmmmm ... is the art that inspired the museum in 1939 "modern" any longer?

  119. 'Slightly soulless'? Does that mean it's mostly soulful?

  120. the admission fee is $25/$14, young couple with a couple of children costs $78 plus other expenses including overpriced souvenirs is not a pocket changes. they are subsidizing the salary of the director of MOMA over two million dollars compensation past several years, one of the highest among the so-called charity organization. we were told it is easier for a camel to go thru the eye of the needle than a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then maybe the donation to the MOMA is one of the ticket to the Heaven?.

  121. @ihk888 Or you could attend on an evening when admission is free. And you aren't required to purchase souvenirs.

  122. @Balcony Bill I'd love to stand on MOMA's super super super long line for my bowl of gruel on their dedicated night of free admission.

  123. @ihk888 Children under 16 are freee.

  124. Ho hum. Another new building in NYC that Michael Kimmelman doesn't like. Same old, same old.

  125. Quite right the previous modernization created claustrophobic crowding and movement. But if it’s “warmth” that’s sought, why was their ridiculing of the escalators and marble removed 15 years ago? Riding up those escalators, looking out at the courtyard and townhouses across the street, to emerge onto flooring marble that made you feel like you were looking at clouds in the sky, was magical. It felt like you hoped a great museum might feel. Crocodile tears for missing elements that were pilloried and dismissed when they did appear, results not in “analysis,” but just writing.

  126. @AJ Yes, I loved riding up those escalators. The Pelli addition didn't kill the soul of the museum like the Tanaguchi addition which totally ruined the overall experience.

  127. It looks worse than ever

  128. This article explores MOMA’s process of renewing, even recreating and innovating, the interactions of experienced and used SPACES with TIME - the visitor’s visiting time, time to move from...to...as well as just to BE, look, see, sense, etc.,-and the temporal trajectories of individual and “school’s/group’s” of creativity. In what ways will a rearchitected MOMA innovate for the visitor, whatever their motivation for the visit, planned or random, the opportunity to transmute the interactions between sensed-semantic, visual and kinesthetic languages, which can foster actively creating interests and quests, actual and virtual, inherent in questions whose answers have not yet been created. Museums, which have traditionally “wharehoused” objects as installations, with adequate, inadequate and even irrelevant information, as ANSWERS, have by and large not accepted the challenge of “Fail better.” By stimulating a culture which fosters: “ What are the legitimate QUESTIONS which may Foster, stimulate, needed breakthroughs to more effectively cope, adapt and function? Within realities’ ever present interacting dimensions of uncertainties, unpredictabilities, randomness and a lack of total control, notwithstanding one’s efforts. Timely or not. What can be the contributions and roles of the ARTS, presented in a range of ways, to creating types, levels and qualities of equitable wellbeing and health? What can be the role of museums such as MOMA to create active cadres of questers?

  129. It really is a tragedy that the city lost the Folk Art Museum building. The fact that it was replaced with such a generic looking tower just adds insult to injury. It's hard not to be reminded of the giant shopping malls at Hudson Yards and the WTC when looking at the new addition to the museum - sterile, beautiful, ruthlessly commercial, and somehow patronizing. On another matter, isn't "the Modern" the restaurant inside MoMA? I think the term "MoMA" is much more widely understood to be the Museum of Modern Art and neither its resident restaurant nor the Tate Modern in London. In any case, it would seem best to pick one or the other and not use both.

  130. @Alex G. I agree. I was confused by the Modern and thought he was referring to the Tate at the very beginning as a means of comparison. It seems that he is being a Luddite by refusing to refer to the museum with its correct name but for me it just ended up being confusing.

  131. @Alex G. -The Modern is the restaurant attached to MOMA. However, to us native New Yorkers, MOMA has longer been called by its nickname, "The Modern". But gee, you obsess on some weird things.

  132. @Patou I am a native New Yorker as well, so perhaps you just meant New Yorkers of a certain age. Regardless of what you call it, it seems prudent to be consistent. I made my comment because I was confused for a moment, as was A Dave above, and wondered if the author was making a comparison with the Tate Modern in London, which also recently completed a major expansion. I'm not sure which is a stranger obsession - commenting on Times articles, or commenting on the comments.

  133. Having just returned from a wonderful, but exhausting visit to New York (90,000 steps in 4 days), I think perhaps having another ginormous, takes-all-day-to-see museum isn't what New York needs.

  134. @Keith Alt -You didn't really consult your FitBit to see how many steps you took, did you? Guess coming from California, walking is a really unique experience.

  135. The constant pressure among "cultural" and "educational" institutions to increase in size is an unalloyed negative. I put the words in quotes because these are just multi-national corporations dressing themselves up as something noble, egalitarian and in the public interest. But no, it's all about the money and power that go along with being as big as possible. This place had $283 million in revenue in fiscal 2018 and paid its Director and its Chief Investment Officer $1.3 million and $1.7 million, respectively. By turning MoMA into the bloated thing that it has become, the trustees have helped to make art a mass entertainment medium. A visit to MoMA is exactly the same as a trip to Uniqlo. Bravo, MoMA.

  136. @Tim Take a breath. Look at the whole city. Billionaires row. Hudson Yards, particularly the crows nest. I have a rent controlled apartment. It may be time to move. Nah.

  137. I've tried to get in but the lines have always been too long. Maybe on my next visit.

  138. @Karl -Become a member.

  139. @Patou Yes, that's what we did to see the Van Gogh exhibit. No long lines.

  140. "Slightly soulless" is like "a little bit pregnant." MOMA lost its soul by tearing down the Todd Williams-Billie Tsien masterpiece, The American Folk Art Museum. God, I miss that building.

  141. @Stourley Kracklite I worked at the Museum of American Folk Art in college. It was Andy Warhol's favorite museum - and he was a connoisseur of museums.

  142. The Museum of Modern Art started its descent from an aesthetic environment in the 1980s. It has become a cold mechanical space that we go to only when there are very specific works that will not be displayed elsewhere. No more charm, no more beautiful gardens, just a mall that happens to display art.

  143. @RSinger New York City has lost its soul. I.E. Hudson Yards.

  144. @Zaldid Sorn I agree about Hudson Yards, it leaves me cold.

  145. I did like that last iteration of the cafe overlooking 53rd Street. I would have a glass of white wine and the proverbial pasta and think fond memories of the Moma I once loved circa 1978.

  146. During the Taniguchi re-do, I remember big donors arguing over the size and placement of their names on the galleries. In addition to the expanded hordes that will further diminish enjoyment of smaller works in the collection, how many more fat-cat names will be added in the new 47,000 square feet, reminding us that art museums, for all their "populism," are increasingly becoming self-displays for the .001 per cent?

  147. As a NYC refugee, quit your griping. To have a gem like the Museum of Modern Art in the city in which you live is a blessing. So the building has changed over the years. So what. It houses one of the most fantastic collections of art in the world. Quit eating sour pickles and eat some sugar you grouchy old folks in NYC. Appreciate what you have.

  148. @Brains McGee What money has done to mutilate the city I am born in it is right to deplore, and demented to ignore.

  149. @Brains McGee -You're clearly munching on some seriously sour grapes about not living in NYC anymore...we New Yorkers are thrilled that we've got world-class museums and other art institutions at our disposal, and I, for one, am in favor of progress and change, even if it doesn't please everyone. Oh and-sorry you're stuck in Washington State. :(

  150. @Brains McGee As an outlier from Pennslvania without a master's in art history, a yacht, or the insufferable tribal urge to put down all those "tourists" who just might want to observe something of visual value -- must I feel less than worthy, treading on such sacred terrain? OK, guilty. Displayed at the MOMA is some great stuff worth visiting and revisiting. I kinda look forward to savoring it again. Just sayin'.....

  151. How many people just go to MOMA to meet, eat, and snap selfies in front of works they never actually looked at? Added to the irony, it costs a week's pay to be so vapid and unaware.

  152. @stan continople Weeks pay? It's $25 for a day pass or $85 for an annual membership

  153. @Spencer I pay for an annual membership with which I see movies for free, attend member previews of exhibitions, and enjoy a glass of wine in the garden. I hope that doesn't change.

  154. Evolution is part of life. More art and artists require additional exhibit space. Big glossy expensive edifices are not necessarily the answer, however, On the positive side, it’s been said that more women and “minorities” will be now exhibited. A 2019 breakthrough! Though the museum could have given these artists proper shows along the way. Still, this is what passes as progress. What’s really concerning now is how the collection will be exhibited. Historically, museums present collections in an evolutionary way, in order to understand the Zeitgeist. Often, it’s said that an artist or movement was/ is a reaction to society’s events at any given time, and that’s how MoMA presented it collection . Abstract modern art often requires context. Now, according to Chief curator, Ann Tempkin, the collection will be mixed and matched, not in a chronological way, but much like fancy commercial art gallery - would you like fries with that?; much like the free markets that gave us the Great Recession and confusion. All, based on Ms. Tempkin’s experience of guiding people through the museum and intuiting that mention of the “Dada” movement caused people’s eyes to glaze over. Well, no longer. What happened to cause and effect? Eg Duchamp. It’s a little like historians ignoring the “Tea Party” because,... People go to museums to learn, a fact that Ms Tempkins’ docent staff apparently wasn’t trained to provide.

  155. @Ted I hope you are wrong about mixed and matched - a non-chronological display of art. MoMA did this with a Leger exhibition once upon a time -- it was impossible to learn what Leger was doing when. Artists evolve in time... Dates matter in terms of history at large and personal history. OTOH Americans don't seem to like history at least not until they are old! IMO theory is the worst esp. when served up with foreign expressions Schadenfreude or Weltanschauung-- or tortuous phrasing. (Youth believes the unintelligible to be serious stuff! Oh well, we were all there once.)

  156. "Smart, surgical, sprawling and slightly soulless" is not a bad caption for modern art itself. And I don't mean that in a negative way.

  157. @Steve -"Dpon't mean that in a negative way"? Then how do you mean it? Clearly, you haven't a clue about Modern Art. But then, you're in Illinois.

  158. My mother took me on my first trip to MoMA as a boy many years ago. In recent years, I would visit the museum and call me mother afterwards to share my experience. She would always ask the same question, 'how are my friends?, referring to the works of Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Van Gogh and the many other artists displayed in the museum. The museum has always been a source of inspiration for me. And I look forward to my next visit. Change happens. It may not be comfortable or what you want, but it's gonna happen anyway. Accept it and savor everything the museum has to share going forward.

  159. Also: "momah dey shout, whats all dis shoutin really about?" Just sing it like Ballafonte, if you can...

  160. @notfit Sorry that was Belafonte as in Harry.

  161. Putting those predator capitalist dollars to good use!

  162. “It’s smart, surgical, sprawling and slightly soulless.” By Jove, you got it!

  163. @Esposito —by Jove, that’s more alliteration than you can find in Anglo-Saxon poetry.

  164. It is a monument to the sterile logic, and egomania of mega-bucks boards all across the country, whether they are ruining museums or universities. The ruling imperative these groups enforce is indeed soulless. It is also anti-intellectual, anti-human, and anti-art. It is as cold and disinterested as a billionaire alone in a Gulfstream jet high above the world. I'll walk, thanks.

  165. Like viewing most modern art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I will happily visit the newest version of MOMA and form my own opinion. One thing is not open to my opinion – that is the fact that MOMA is unequalled in the world in its collection and display of Modern Art. The Pompidou Centre is a close and delightful second, but it is still second.

  166. @larry bennett -As a commited New Yorker and serious Francophone, I take issue with your comment. Both MOMA and the Pompidou Center are World Class. Neither one has to be "first" or "second". That's for grade schoolers and little league or soccer. Not art,

  167. The structure, sadly, has become the focus, not the art it houses. Kind of reminds me of the USA.

  168. MOMA anticipates that a larger building will draw even larger crowds. That's the problem. MOMA can be like Disney World on Spring Break. The crowds are huge already and distract from my purpose in attending, which is to quietly be with the art. Well, it's New York.

  169. The picture of what the block looked like in 1939 makes me sad. All that beauty (looks like Paris to me) crushed into rubble.

  170. @Julia Longpre I felt the same way, Julia. Thanks for your comment.

  171. @Julia Longpre Julia -- Have you looked around Vancouver lately? When I visit there it seems like it's trying to out hi-rise Manhattan. Even Gastown is being rebuilt crushing those old buildings into rubble.....

  172. Some of the most personal and meditative museums I visit regularly are all the buildings of the Menil Campus in Houston...I regularly get galleries in the museum to myself of exciting and new work...the Flavin extension is in a former grocery store and is so unique...the Byzantine Fresco building has had some really gorgeous shows...the Twombly gallery is one of my faves...the brand new drawing institute is beautiful and your proximity to the work and the residency areas where work is created is interesting...and the crown jewel, The Rothko Chapel, I’ve spent countless hours there...I’ve seen more exciting work on that campus that has reduced me to tears, for example, a performance of a John Cage/Merce Cunningham piece that had never been performed, inside the Flavin Building...all buildings are small and very human and even the docents and entrance people know you if you go often...the work is historical and relevant but also has newer, boundary pushing work...and it’s all free...and parking is too...and there’s an amazing park to sit in after...I can’t say enough good things about my Menil Campus...it’s worth a trip to Houston alone

  173. It's a pity that the review did not elaborate much on the relationships among architecture, curation, and the purpose of museums. The curators at MOMA claim that this renovation goes hand-in-glove with "absolute rethink of the curatorial approach", presenting art "less like a canon and more like a conversation". These are fascinating claims and this curious reader seeks to know more. Beyond witty comments about Apple and Darth Vader, does this renovation move the idea of a museum forward? What can we learn from curatorial philosophy and practice in this renewed space?

  174. When I was a college student 50 years ago I used to love going to MoMa almost every Saturday. I think it was free or maybe I bought a student pass. I used to watch the movies. The cafeteria was inexpensive. It was also easy to meet other young people. I don’t get the same open welcoming feeling now. I prefer the Met which I visit almost every week. There is just so much to see.

  175. @Zejee the Modern used to have I believe Mondays free. Would go then also to watch a film or two. The garden was intact, for concerts. Now it is just too big.

  176. Vanity project. sad. For $450 million dollars, MoMA could've launched a majorly impactful, multi-year, multi-media touring initiative designed to engage young people throughout the country in the history and dynamism of the visual arts. Bring 53rd Street to the people who don't have access goddamnit! Serve the medium, not the real estate - or the board's whims. From the museum's mission statement: "Central to The Museum of Modern Art’s mission is the encouragement of an ever-deeper understanding and enjoyment of modern and contemporary art by the diverse local, national, and international audiences that it serves." "MoMA for KIDS on Tour!" - a lost opportunity.

  177. Kimmelman suggests that many staff will be needed to guide people. How much will they be paid? Have the wages of the staff been raised lately? Did they ever unionize? (I hope so.)

  178. @KO'R More likely unpaid "volunteers" who wait years on waiting lists to be able to brag about volunteering at MoMA.

  179. It's a shame that, over the course of the last ten or so years, they've destroyed both the old MoMA as well as the Museum of American Folk Art to build this monstrosity. And let's not forget that the huge jump in admission price that accompanied the initial expansion has been adopted by many, many other museums. What a joke.

  180. Dear Metropolitan Museum, Take note of this review and the readers' comments. Do not, I repeat, do not follow in the footsteps of MoMA by tampering in any way with the beautiful building you have, the hushed atmosphere that still prevails in many of your galleries, and the overall priority given to spaces that allow the art to breathe. A visit to your encyclopedic museum can include close-up encounters with artistic gems in smaller rooms, punctuated by forays into large halls with monumental sculptures, paintings, or even a temple bathed in bounteous light. All of this is priceless and feeds the soul of New York City, as well as the souls of armies of tourists and every aspiring artist. It must never be destroyed. Signed, A True Friend of the Arts

  181. @ManhattanMom Amen to that . . . thankful that The Met expanded more gracefully over the years and that it's still possible to enjoy meditative, thoughtful engagement with the art.

  182. @ManhattanMom Always a quiet byway, small gallery, new look at an old favorite no matter how large the throngs. Still walking the corridors and people viewing gives the Met an energy to complement the great art. For our visits to the Met, we set a three hour limit. After that I'm museumed out but with knowledge we'll be back in several weeks time to view old favorites, take in neglected galleries and of course look at the great curated shows. Ah, the joys of membership-thanks kids.

  183. Ug! How retail!

  184. Just like Apple. Isn’t it GREAT! It is what one makes of it. I, as one of many, think it’s really cool!

  185. @Chris I agree. Looks like an Apple store

  186. @RealTRUTH Think of another adjective, please.

  187. An emblem of this institution's long march toward soullessness is the ridiculous corporate incapped acronym it has adopted for itself: "MoMA." Remember when we lovingly called it "the Modern"? A more elegant name for a more congenial museum, both now lost in the past.

  188. @Jim Holt Hmmm...I'm a 68 y.o. native New Yorker and always called it MoMA. How old are you?

  189. Seems to me they should be addressing the cost of admission as well in order to make art more accessible to everyone. Anyone who has ventured to one of their "free" nights has had to endure long lines to get in and crowds as dense as the Times Square #1 train at rush hour. This is no way to have to view art. Along with real estate, we are now becoming a city with access to the Arts becoming an elitist bastion and very little attention being paid to that fact.

  190. @steven23lexny if you have a city library card you can get a free pass through the Culture Pass program (I just did it, although I'm not going til January).

  191. Rationalizing a modern art museum is about as futile and thankless as what’s in it.

  192. I grew up with artistic talent and went to The Cooper Union to major in fine art. But over the decades, art has been ever more increasingly appropriated by commodity fetishism and spectacle, and is used as a place to park idle capital by the uber-wealthy, for whom it confers status. I still create, for myself and my friends. I have not been to MoMA in decades.

  193. Ah yes, “art” is in the eyes of the beholder. It is created to be judged subjectively and its homes, like the MOMA, should be dynamic ones, changing with the times, as should our Constitution. Progress should be “progressive” and not defined by monolithic views. I really like the new MOMA!

  194. @unreceivedogma Just a quick note to say that 37 people, at my reading, recommended what you wrote, but I do not. What you wrote is narrow, shallow and with regard to the subject at hand it is irrelevant.

  195. I remember when MOMA was a small building, I still vividly recall where every painting hung on the wall of a gallery or stairwell. It was a peaceful, contemplative space, never too busy, and enjoyed by art-lovers. Now it is crammed with hordes of tourists checking off a "must see" list, and I no longer go. The same with the Whitney. I went once to the Whitney downtown, it doesn't even display Calder's Circus, but it was packed with tourists. More is not necessarily better.

  196. @Enough is enough I am one of those "tourists." We travel to NYC annually and, depending on what is showing, we make a point to go to MOMA, the Whitney or the Guggeheim. Of course people visiting the city are going to go to these museums. They house some of the great Art in he world. If the Snoberoti stays away, all the better for the rest of us tourists.

  197. @Enough is enough I couldn’t agree more, but globalization and growth are all that matters to the pocket strings controlling MOMA and the world, when they global elite want to enjoy the finest art they do it in the comfort of their homes, yachts and planes or go to the Museum(s) only for private events when the hoi poloi is not admitted.

  198. @Enough is enough - I apologize for inconveniencing you by visiting your city and its cultural institutions. That being said, I'm aware that over-tourism is a problem. Cities and institutions need to take measures, as some have already done in Europe, so that all can enjoy cultural spaces - including tourists!

  199. "...The architects this time are Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with the global giant Gensler..." I have noticed that recent projects by DS+R are usually "...in collaboration with..". Is this because one of "the architects" in DS+R, to my understanding, never passed the licensing exam and is not an architect? I have heard things to that effect. Not that that necessarily matters, but it would be interesting to know. Please clarify.

  200. @unreceivedogma A typical arrangement these days for high-priced projects is for there to be one "high-falutin" design architect who comes up with the schematics and one "Architect of Record" who is brought on board to actually draw the construction set and oversee construction. The idea is to combine the "nimbleness" of a design oriented firm with the resources and manpower of a firm like Gensler.

  201. @unreceivedogma, licenses aside, one usually does the dog and pony while the other the nuts and bolts.

  202. And all have egos that don’t design to need instead to weird. See also WTC by Calatrava.

  203. Think of how many films they could have restored/preserved. Remember that this is the same museum as lost films Gloria Swanson and Colleen Moore deposited there for safe keeping. The films were outrightly lost or they turned to dust in their cans. What else have they mishandled?

  204. I remember sitting in the Goodwin-Stone Building overlooking the garden and contemplating the Waterlilies. NO MORE. (and more infuriating to me is the MoAD destruction of the Venetian Palace aka Lollipop Bldg which was a white dot in a sea of beige (was the director having an affair with the architect-- the only way to explain this travesty! protested and unprotected by the fools at the Landmark Commission... that's off my chest. I don't like the factory -ike new modern -- haven't seen this redo yet. How many super tall galleries do you need.. and there need to be more spacious and nicely designed -- why is crowded good for eating spaces? -- and sound proofed spaces for coffee or wine (correctly priced-- prices can vary venue to venue w/in the museum) and a snack). That said, I hate Hudson Yards -- the mall is appalling not pretty - the Mercado Espanol is very in the basement -- ugh -- Pompidou sans style.. More luxury apts on which there are 20 year tax abatements -- fantastic -- for the noblesse. BTW has no one noticed that there are more than twice as many people on the planet today as in 1970. One would hope museum attendance would go up. So long as the museum doesn't decide to add sound to its exhibits - I can make do but - sorry music and thinking about art do not mix. I need to hear my own thoughts not some commentary or questionable melody. Ignoring the chatter of the other enthusiasts can be more than enough.

  205. Nice essay, good info. Fact is, many of us simply don't see the museum environs with such a critical eye. We visit to contemplate the artwork...the architecture that houses it is not without consequence but its hardly the point. But it makes for nice coffee chat after your visit. "Modern" art is as relevant today as it was in the 20th century. But the architecture around it, like the city it resides in, eventually reinvents itself one way or the other.

  206. I can view great modern art at the Metropolitan Museum. To me, MOMA has the warmth of a dentist's office. I go there for the movies.

  207. Doesn't matter if it looked like a donut shop, people will still come to see The Starry Night. It's the only painting anyone knows is in there and it's the only one they'll remember.

  208. That is underestimating many of us.

  209. @J.S. what a pity

  210. Size is a statistic, not a strategy.

  211. MoMA lost ... lost as in misplaced ... the last known print of FLAMING YOUTH (1923) which was deposited there by the film's star, Colleen Moore. When she went there to watch the film, about the time she was writing her autobiography, she discovered MoMA had no idea where it was .... or any of the other 20-odd films she left there.

  212. @Ed L Good lord, what dereliction of duty!

  213. Change this, change that. My favorite NYC museum is and likely always will be the Frick Collection.

  214. MoMa has lost its reason for existing. Nowadays it's seen as a sociological tool the latest woke agenda du jour.... and a symptom of why art as defined by the talking heads is essentially dead. Paradoxically, art remains alive in small art collectives, independent studios - where work is done out of love, not to appease the talking head 'critics', 'curators', investors, big gallery owners and their likes.

  215. I am disappointed to hear that the garden has been side-lined by the architects. The importance of the garden and its sculpture should have been valued more than this. Once upon a time, MoMA even had exhibitions on landscape architecture, including a lecture by Roberto Burle Marx that I attended. Growing up in NY, I had a student membership and found it so valuable for learning and seeing art. However, visiting now with my family, it is an exhausting, noisy experience with all the selfie sticks out for certain well-known works. They spend more time in the shop than looking at the art. The loss of the Folk Art Museum is very sad as well. It is all too corporate and monstrous. I imagine I will again find myself taking refuge in the MoMA bookshop as I did in my last visit! What happened to NY City? Soulless indeed. We went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and had a lot of fun.

  216. @gf Hon, I agree that AVM is great fun.

  217. " Slightly Soulless" is an extreme compliment. If you love hospitals--you'll love this.

  218. Still wistful for the garden-centered MoMA of the 70s-early 80s which is long gone. When I visit the NYC area, my art pilgrimages include the Noguchi Sculpture Museum/Garden, the Kendall Sculpture Collection up in Purchase and Storm King Art Center. The MoMA experience has been so compromised by the aptly described Manifest Destiny approach to expansion, I can hardly wait to escape, once I'm inside. I'll give the newest iteration a look-see but I agree with MK that it might have been better for MoMA to spread their wings geographically rather than bloat up in the existing location.

  219. This Museum has too much money! Did they even consider, instead of gobbling up most of the block and demolishing prize-winning buildings, lowering the admission?

  220. Engrossing review, thanks Mr. Kimmelman. I’m keen to see the changes – I haven’t spent much time at MoMA since the Taniguchi expansions opened – but I haven’t yet forgiven the museum for destroying the Folk Art Museum. Too soon. #FolkMoMA

  221. @mark careaga I worked in the Museum of American Folk art when I was in college. It was great and was Andy Warhol's favorite museum. They should have listened to Warhol who had an unerring eye for quality.

  222. @fast/furious ,you mean quantity.