The Studio Museum of Harlem Is Renewing and Expanding Its Space

The Studio Museum of Harlem Is Renewing and Expanding Its Space

One of the world's most important spaces for artists of African descent will be upgrading its facilities before the decade is over. The Studio Museum of Harlem has announced plans for renovation and expansion of its building on 125th street. Construction for the $122 million project is scheduled to begin in 2017.

Published July 6, 2015

One of the world's most important spaces for artists of African descent will be upgrading its facilities before the decade is over. The Studio Museum of Harlem has announced plans for renovation and expansion of its building on 125th Street. Construction for the $122 million project is expected to begin in 2017 and set for completion in 2019, the New York Times reports.

“We have outgrown the space,” said Thelma Golden to the New York Times. Golden is the museum’s director and chief curator. “Our program and our audience require us to answer those demands.”

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British architect David Adjaye has completed a design for the new building that will be submitted to New York City’s public design commission later this month. Adjaye also led the design of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, which will open its doors in 2016.

The Studio Museum of Harlem was established in 1968 at a loft a few blocks from its current home on 125th street, where it moved in 1977. The museum was created to showcase the work of African-Americans, the first space of its kind in the United States. 

Famed artists such as Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence and Norman Lewis have had their work featured in the space. The museum's artist-in-residence programs have supported emerging Black and Latino artists and helped in launching their careers. The museum also hosts a wide variety of talks, events and public programming.

Adjaye said he was inspired by Harlem's brownstones and the neighborhood churches when redesigning the building. “I wanted to honor this idea of public rooms, which are soaring, celebratory and edifying — uplifting,” he told The Times. “Between the residential and the civic, we learned the lessons of public realms and tried to bring those two together.”

In Adjaye's plan, the museum will expand by 70,000 square feet. It also will include a staircase in the entrance area that will serve as a gathering place and seating for programs. Additionally, Adjaye's plan envisions a cafe and roof area, where other events can be held.

New York City is set to donate $35.3 million and the Ford Foundation is set to donate $3 million to the reconstruction of Studio Museum of Harlem. The rest of the funding is set to come from other sources.

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Written by Natelege Whaley

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