The New Museum will double in size in time for its 40th birthday next year, as it expands into next-door 231 Bowery, which is currently offices, a gallery, and artists’ live/work space owned by the museum.
The museum announced yesterday that it had raised $43 million of the $80 million needed to pay for the expansion and to triple the endowment. Although the funds seem modest in comparison to the MoMA (annual operating budget: $147 million) or the Whitney, the capital campaign is the largest in the New Museum’s history. The $80 million will also pay for the institution’s business incubator, New INC, and programs like IdeasCity, which bring artists, activists, planners, and policymakers together to discuss issues facing cities like Detroit and Athens, Greece.
Lisa Phillips, the museum’s director, told The New York Times that “we’ve known for a long time that we wanted an expansion, but we’ve been thinking about what an expansion means for a museum like this. We own the building next door, and it just makes sense to use it. But it was also about thinking about ways to create a parallel structure there, to make something that’s different and a counterpoint to this building.”
Since the museum’s move to Soho in 2007, annual attendance has increased from 60,000 to over 400,000. The museum intends to renovate 231 Bowery and connect it to their main Sanaa–designed space, increasing the total footprint from 58,000 square feet to over 100,000. As of now, there are no plans to demolish 231 Bowery. The expansion will allow for improved circulation, and keep exhibitions on view during turnaround periods: The New Museum has a tiny permanent collection, choosing instead to focus on women artists and art that’s not usually exhibited in New York.
“I don’t have [the expansion] completely laid out,” Phillips told the Times, “but it’s about trying to do things that museums haven’t done yet or maybe even imagined.”