Queens Museum of Art to change name, expand


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

Renderings courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens Museum of Art
Renderings courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens Museum of Art

The Queens Museum of Art (QMA) is getting a major makeover. This fall, the international art space will double in size and shorten its name.

“This is a time of tremendous change for the Queens Museum,” said executive director Tom Finkelpearl.

Come October, the institution will total 105,000-square-feet. It will have new galleries, artist studios, flexible public and special event spaces, classrooms, a new café, back-of-house facilities and improved visitor amenities. Instead of QMA, it will be known simply as the Queens Museum.

Additionally, the west façade facing Grand Central Parkway has been completely redesigned with a new entrance and drop-off plaza, as well as a tremendous glass wall easily visible from the roadway. This entrance also features a multicolored lighting system and will present commissioned art projects.

The $68 million project also includes another new entrance and expanded outdoor space on the side of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which will include a skylight atrium.

“All of this will allow people to still be in the museum, while outside in the park,” said David Strauss, director of external affairs.

Finkelpearl noted that despite the significant changes coming to the museum, what will remain constant is their dedication to “openness and engagement.”

“We designed a dynamic space that reflects our overall philosophy and allows us to broaden our current slate of public programs, introduce innovative initiatives, and create wonderful opportunities for new participants and longtime visitors to enjoy our unique brand of museum experience,” he said.

At a legislative breakfast on Friday, March 22, members of the museum hosted dozens of elected officials and community leaders from around the borough, hoping to galvanize their participation and support for the new project. The expansion thus far is supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Borough President Helen Marshall’s office, the state, City Council and donations from private individuals and corporations.

“It’s up to the business community to step up and help support these institutions,” said Strauss. “[We want them to] understand that a true public-private partnership makes progress like ours possible and successful.”

Congressmember Joseph Crowley recalled growing up in the borough, always enjoying the surrounding park and all that it has to offer.

“This museum is a jewel of many jewels here,” he said.

City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, longtime supporter of the museum, acknowledged the institution’s attempts to think outside the box, bringing new and innovative programs with its expansion.

“You can’t have community without culture,” she said, getting teary-eyed. “We’ve been able to strike up new walls, and put in embracing walls [for all of Queens].”

Following the completion of Phase 1, work for Phase 2 will begin, projected to be done within 12 to 18 months.

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art better watch out,” said Marshall.

 

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