News

MoMA to Preserve Folk Art Museum Façade

by Mostafa Heddaya on February 12, 2014

Façade of the American Folk Art Museum (image via Flickr user 0x294)

The copper-bronze panels constituting the façade of the American Folk Art Museum will now be preserved in MoMA’s collection. (image via Flickr user 0×294)

Saving face is no longer limited to disgraced public figures — architects and their patrons can also get in on the action. This is now the case with the beleaguered expansion plan for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), which in recent weeks has weathered a rocky public reception to its announced intention to demolish the widely admired American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) building. The New York Times is reporting today that MoMA actually intends to preserve the metal panels, though a fully reconstructed façade is unlikely.

At an event held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture two weeks ago, Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio and Renfro — the firm responsible for the MoMA project — gave a detailed presentation defending the process by which the decision was made to axe the AFAM building. As we noted in our report on the talk, Diller did specifically discuss an alternative, proposed but ultimately rejected, that saw the copper-bronze AFAM façade preserved and reincorporated as a vestigial element on the face of the new structure. Now MoMA Director Glenn Lowry has told the Times, “We will take the facade down, piece by piece, and we will store it. We have made no decision about what happens subsequently, other than the fact that we’ll have it and it will be preserved.”

Though an obvious olive branch to the seething opposition in the critical and architectural community — a sentiment out in force at the well-attended New York Society for Ethical Culture event — the decision contradicts the letter, if not the spirit, of Lowry’s previous comment on the subject: “We don’t collect buildings,” he said.

Update, 4:35 pm EST: In a statement to Hyperallergic, MoMA has clarified that they are “not adding the facade to the collection; it will be removed carefully and stored, but is not being accessioned.”

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.
  • punktoad

    MOMA collects video games but not facades?

  • Paul Werner

    “We had to destroy the building in order to save it.”

    Quill Mike
    New York Bureau
    WOID, a journal of visual language

  • lt@pixelsPainting.com

    15 minutes of face, extended.

Previous post:

Next post: