Robin Pogrebin’s excellent article on the Met’s announcement that it will rebuild the Lila Acheson Wallace wing is filled with frank, if blame-shifting, admissions from every major figure in the design and construction of the modern art wing except Wallace herself. But now that Reader’s Digest is a thing of the past and Contemporary art has become so central to the art experience, the Met is facing its weakness head on. The goal is to design a wing around Leonard Lauder’s Cubism gift and, at the same time, turn the museum toward Central Park:
One spur for the decision is the Met’s eight-year agreement to lease the Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue from the Whitney, giving the Met space for its contemporary collection during construction. The Whitney is moving next spring.
Another factor is the Met’s interest in creating an appropriately important home for the Lauder gift, valued at more than $1 billion.
“Leonard’s collection is such a huge missing link between our very strong collections of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and our moderately strong holdings of early-20th-century,” Mr. Campbell said, “that if we reconfigure the galleries, we have the potential to tell the chronological story.”
As part of its initial research, the Met recently brought in art and architecture professionals to share their expertise, including Adam D. Weinberg, the director of the Whitney, and Hal Foster, a professor of art and archaeology at Princeton. “They have this important collection that is largely lost now,” Mr. Foster said. “The wing’s tucked away in the back of the museum, and its spaces disorient the visitor.”
“They need to do two opposite things at once — connect it to the rest of the museum more and make it more autonomous,” he said. “Right now, it feels like an add-on to the 19th-century galleries or an exit from the tribal art collection.”
Met Plans a Gut Renovation of Its Modern Wing (NYTimes.com)