You might not know it, but located on the outskirts of New York's Flushing Meadows park is an art haven that's about to experience a serious facelift.
The Queens Museum, nestled in the city's second most frequented park, is part fine arts venue, part community center, offering iconic permanent works like the famed 895,000-piece Panorama of NYC as well as a whole slew of public programming like the New New Yorker class series. Sitting along side the borough's beloved Unisphere, a relic of World's Fairs past, it's a building that, despite it's already significant size, has existed under the radar for the past several years.
That is, until now. The museum, formerly called the Queens Museum of Art, is shortening its name and expanding its property, adding 50,000 square feet of wide-open space to its home in Corona, Queens. The massive expansion will result in a 105,000-square-foot contemporary behemoth after it opens its doors in October 2013.
Check out our seven reasons below and let us know your thoughts on the new Queens Museum in the comments:
1. Grimshaw Is Behind The Expansion: The architectural team that's brought the world projects like the Fulton Street Transit Center, the Ijburg Bridges and the Mobilizarte Mobile Pavilion is on board Queens Museum's renovation.
2. The Museum Will Be A New Gateway To The Park: The expanded museum will now have a direct exit and entry point to the park, allowing visitors in Flushing Meadows to seamlessly move from the park's parameters, through the museum, and onto the lawn beside the Unisphere.
Interior of Queens Museum. Image: Courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens Museum
3. The New Open Space Brings New Performance Possibilities: As executive director Tom Finkelpearl pointed out at a recent press preview of the expanded museum, the redesign is "not just a matter of creating a beautiful space," it's also intended to pave the way for more flexible and unconventional presentations of art. The high ceiling of the new space could host dance performance, large-scale installations and lectures. Plus, the new 200-by-27-foot glass wall on the exterior of the museum will act as giant, multi-colored lighting system that can potentially feature commissioned works.
4. Pedro Reyes Will Be One Of The First Artists To Christen The New Wing: To prove just how multi-functional the new space can be, Pedro Reyes will showcase his new exhibit, "pUN," a mock United Nations gathering intended to employ alternative negotiation techniques to discuss some of the issues that cross the tables of the real General Assembly. As curator Larissa Harris noted, the project will pull together 193 individuals representing all of the UN member states to participate in this unique, politically-minded performance.
Pedro Reyes, Rendering of pUN (from inside looking out)
5. ... And Bread And Puppet: Reyes will be joined by Peter Schumann, the mastermind credited with founding the Bread and Puppet Theater company. Known for their radical anti-war stance in the 1960s, the politically-minded organization will bring paintings, drawings, papier-mache sculptures, books, automata and kinetic machines mounted in the building's largest, skylit space.
Domestic Resurrection Pageant, 1994, performance view (Photo: Ron Simon)
6. More Space Means More Resources For The Community: According to Finkelpearl, the art destination has both a "super community and super fine arts orientation," that allows for programs like the New New Yorkers, a series of education classes taught in native tongues like Mandarin, Tibetan and Urdu, and the Queens Teens, an after-school development program that trains local high schoolers in art museum administration. Expect these and more once the museum doubles its space.
7. Like The Upcoming 'Queens International' Show: One community-engaging project to look out for is the reprisal of "Queens International," a biennial show first hosted in 2002 which features the works of international artists living or working in the borough. The sixth edition of the festivity will be co-curated by Taipei Contemporary Art Center founder Meiya Cheng, along with Queens Museum Director of Exhibitions Hitomi Iwasaki.
Stay tuned for more information on the Queens Museum makeover, set to be completed October 2013.