A proposal this week to relocate the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) to an Upper West Side Beaux-Arts church is facing fierce opposition from the local community.
In a hearing at New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) earlier this week, CMOM presented its plans to move into the former First Church of Christ, Scientist on 361 Central Park West and fully rebuild its interior.
The museum purchased the church in 2017 for $45 million with the intention to make it a home of its activities. In 2015, a developer’s attempt to repurpose the church into condominiums was thwarted by the community.
The proposal includes adding a roof for performance and workshop space, removing several stained glass windows, and lowering entrances to make them accessible to people living with disabilities.
During the four-hour hearing, the latest of a series of heated hearings over the proposal, preservationists, neighbors, and members of the church’s congregation have raised their objection to the roof addition and the removal of historic stained glass (the windows will be donated to the National Building Arts Center in St. Louis, according to the proposal.)
Valeria Ricciulli of Curbed New York reported that preservationists and community members called the proposed changes “cultural vandalism.”
“Why buy a church if you don’t like the windows, when you knew that they were landmarked when you purchased it?” said Lynda Starks, a member of the Fresh Start New Beginning church, during the hearing.
Proponents of the project included Upper West Side City Council member Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and former LPC commissioner Sherida Paulson.
“It’s supposed to be a place of public assembly. It was and is meant to be enjoyed by many, not just a few people, so I’m really glad this proposal will open the building to the public,” Brewer said at the hearing. “The repurposing of valued churches of historic significance is difficult, a very difficult challenge,” she added and noted that the plan can still be amended.
The museum also has Deborah Berke, dean of Yale School of Architecture, on its side. “The proposed windows will fill the museum with natural light and remove now-inappropriate ecclesiastical imagery while maintaining the historic botanical stained-glass borders and identical bronze muntins,” the prominent architect wrote in a letter to the commission.
In a statement to Hyperallergic, CMOM said: “We strongly believe that our proposal to the Landmarks Preservation Commission is the best way to restore the historic building, bring it back to public use as a space to serve the community, and fulfill CMOM’s mission to be a citywide resource for all families.”
The statement continued:
After extensive conversations with the local community, notable architects, our elected officials and members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission staff, we developed a proposal that would adaptively reuse this important building into an accessible, open, light-filled and dynamic institution that will serve children and families for generations to come.
The meeting ended with no resolution, and the LPC asked the museum to make changes to the proposal before returning for another hearing.
As museums readily draft land acknowledgments, they should also be ready to leverage their presence and power on the land to meet the needs of their neighbors today.
Decades later, a letter written by the group has resulted in a permanent exhibition at Bosque Redondo Memorial in New Mexico.
International audiences have free access to the media collections of MMCA Korea, Sharjah Art Foundation, and ArkDes through this subscription-based art streaming platform.
Assembly Required suggests it is high time to strap on a colorful mask and play with someone you don’t know — or don’t know well enough.
The pet home is on view at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, Wright’s largest public project.
Convened by Erika Sprey, Lamin Fofana, Sky Hopinka, Emmy Catedral, and Manuela Moscoso, the public program unfolds this summer at CARA in New York City.
Nun cho ga, meaning “big baby animal” in the Hän language, is “the most complete mummified mammoth found in North America.
A childhood accident took her arms away but the transgender artist survived to create paintings, photography, and performances focused on depicting the body.
The Bay Area art book fair is back this July with free programming at three different on-site venues, new exhibitors, and fundraising editions from renowned artists.
Fans of director Claire Denis should check the film out, but as an agnostic, I find it one of her few truly awful pictures.
There are 30 nations represented in the international exhibition. Some aren’t in their best moment today. A comics diary.
Some have compared her album art to John Collier’s 19th-century portrait of Lady Godiva, but Beyoncé can channel her radical spirit without evoking Western art history.