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New Venue: The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is coming home

53rd Street facade ©TANIGUCHI, Yoshio. Model, April 2000. The Museum of Modern Art

75 years ago, Alfred H. Barr Jr., founded MoMA an exhibition space showing modern art masterpieces on the 12 floor of the Hecks shopping mall on the famous Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Up until then, no one had come up with the idea of opening an artistic space within a commercial space. The MoMA was inaugurated on the 9th of November 1929, just a few days after the Wall Street Crash, showcasing the masterpieces of Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat and Van Gogh.
Nowadays, many exhibition spaces function simultaneously as tourist attractions, considered to be contemporary architectural icons, and commercial spaces, equipped with restaurants, shops and public events, not necessarily related to art. Somewhere in between, we have Museums such as Guggenheim in New York designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Guggenheim in Bilbao (Spain) by Frank Gehry, the Jewish Museum in Berlin by Libeskind and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, designed by Renzo Piano.
It has taken three years to finish the museum expansion. During this time, part of the MoMA collection moved temporarily to Queens and the rest went on tour around the world. MoMA will finally return to its original location this year: New York. Its latest and most successful international show is currently taking place in Berlin, where it has received a particularly warm welcome with long queues to be seen nearly every day. MoMA will reopen its doors in New York on the 20th of November 2004.
Unlike the museums mentioned above, the Japanese Yoshio Taniguchi has maintained the original design of the museum as an exhibition space.
The architect had to struggle with the museum's space restrictions, situated in the busy streets of Manhattan centre. The new MoMA has double the space of the original building, with the second floor dedicated to contemporary art.
The museum has six floors and respects the Barr's initial idea of a commercial space, intentionally exhibiting the greatest masterpieces on the last floor, forcing the viewer to pass through the other five on the way up. With or without the new extension, the MoMA continues to be a main attraction for all lovers of contemporary and modern art.

Text: Katerina Valdivia Bruch
Translation: Marzia Belvisi
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