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Downtown Manhattan Museum Migration Gathers Momentum

Inside Walter de Maria's former studio at 421 East 6th Street (photo via StreetEasy)
Inside Walter de Maria’s former studio at 421 East 6th Street (photo via StreetEasy)

Collector and publisher Peter Brant — whose Brant Publications Inc. publishes Art in AmericaInterview, and Antiques — is joining the influx of museums to downtown Manhattan. According to the New York Times, he will turn the late minimalist artist Walter De Maria’s former studio in a converted Con Edison substation at 421 East Sixth Street in the East Village, which he bought earlier this year, into an exhibition space. The property was on the market for $25 million.

Walter de Maria's former studio at 421 East 6th Street (photo via StreetEasy)
Walter de Maria’s former studio at 421 East 6th Street (photo via StreetEasy)

Brant currently operates what is effectively a private museum, the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, on his estate in Greenwich Connecticut. Brant plans to expand his contemporary art exhibitions program to De Maria’s old studio. “We plan to open it in a few years,” Brant told the Times. “Right now, we’re clearing it out. Construction should begin in another month.”

Brant’s forthcoming New York City exhibition venue is just one among many institutions flocking to downtown Manhattan.

There’s the new Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District, which is slated to open in spring 2015. The museum’s staff has already relocated to the bulky building at the foot of the High Line, which was designed Renzo Piano and is nearly three times the size of its longtime home on Madison Avenue.

Another institution making the move downtown is the International Center of Photography. The midtown museum will resume its exhibition programming next year in a building it plans to buy on the Bowery near the New Museum. Its lease on its building at 43rd Street and Sixth Avenue will end in early 2015, after its current exhibition on the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado closes. The ICP’s school, currently housed on the other side of Sixth Avenue, will likely relocate to the Lower East Side as well when the lease on that space expires in 2018.

The new Whitney Museum building (photo by Tim Schenck)
The new Whitney Museum building (photo by Tim Schenck)

Rounding out the sudden glut of museums landing in Lower Manhattan, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh recently announced its plans to open a small outpost on Delancey Street. The space will be part of the Essex Crossing real estate project at the Manhattan end of the Williamsburg Bridge, which is being built by an alliance of three developers known as the Delancey Street Associates.

“The partnership has been formed and we’re moving forward with our plans to open the branch in New York,” Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in May.

At an impressive 10,000 square feet, the planned New York City outpost of the Warhol Museum will most likely be the smallest of downtown Manhattan’s new crop of museums. The old De Maria studio has over 16,000 square feet spread over four stories. The Whitney’s Gansevoort Street building is 220,000 square feet. All of which, combined with a roster of institutions beneath 14th Street that already includes the New Museum, the Tenement Museum, the Drawing Center, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, and others, will continue to push the fulcrum of New York’s museum world towards downtown.

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