Museum of Modern Art Closing to Undergo Renovation of Space and Overdue Expansion of Worldview

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Photo Credit Image Rendering from moma.org

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York City, one of the premier modern art museums in the country, is closing its doors from June 15th through October 21st to undergo a substantial update to both its real estate as well as its artistic holdings. Until now, the permanent collection of the museum has been largely Eurocentric, creating a void in representation that has trickled down into the art world and limited the public’s understanding of art and art history. Upon reopening in the fall, the permanent exhibitions will reflect the reality that Modernism was always “a global phenomenon emerging across the world in different places, on different schedules.”

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This means that the MoMA’s refreshed take on modern art will have expanded to include important works by women, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and alternative traditions of art that have been overlooked and eclipsed largely by the work of white, male, European artists. “A new generation of curators is discovering the richness of what is in our collection, and there is great work being made around the world that we need to pay attention to,” explained Glenn Lowry, director of the museum, with the New York Times.

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By closing their doors during one of their busier quarters of the year — the summer brings hordes of tourists into the city — the museum is betting that the renovation and panoramic take on modern art will more than pay for itself once the institution reopens by expanding not just its offerings but also catering to visitors who are looking beyond the canon of Eurocentric art history. “[The] museum didn’t emphasize female artists, didn’t emphasize what minority artists were doing, and it was limited on geography,” said the chairman of the MoMA. “Where those were always the exceptions, now they really should be part of the reality of the multicultural society we all live in.” Picasso won’t be relegated to the dumpster, but rather hung alongside less familiar but equally worthy names.

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“You cannot be living oblivious of the political time you are in, and artists are the people who can actually say what other people have not yet formed… Dignity has no rest. Dignity doesn't rest.” –Tania Bruguera … On December 3, 2018, Cuban police detained @taniabruguera and several other Cuban artists for protesting Decree 349. This new law would prohibit independent artists from operating in private and public spaces without the approval of the government. We stand in solidarity with Bruguera and the artists of Cuba supporting free expression and saying #NoAlDecreto349. … MoMA Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art Stuart Comer and Director of Editorial and Content Strategy Leah Dickerman called the artist days after her release from police custody. Listen as Bruguera shares more about her arrest, how Decree 349 will affect the artistic community in Cuba, and the connection between her activism and her art: mo.ma/decree349 … [Artwork details: Installation view of the exhibition "Tania Bruguera: Untitled (Havana, 2000)." February 03, 2018 – March 11, 2018. The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: John Wronn]

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Visitors to the new MoMA in the fall will be greeted by a survey of Latin American art, drawn from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros which was gifted to the museum in 2016. The survey will mostly feature contemporary work from South American artists, many of whom are still living and producing work. The museum will also open with concurrent exhibitions by performance artist Pope.L and assemblage legend Betye Saar, both of whom are African-American.

Beyond their opening shows, the MoMA intends to rotate their permanent collections on a more frequent basis so that by 2022, the entire hang will have completely changed. “At any given moment,” Mr. Lowry said, “there will be something new to see.”