Met’s Breuer Annex Will Be Renovated Ahead of March Opening, Will Include a ‘Book Bar’

The Breuer building, prior to the Met's planned renovations. ©EZRA STOLLER/ESTO

The Breuer building, prior to the Met’s planned renovations.


Today the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York detailed its plans for the Met Breuer, the museum’s annex for modern and contemporary art, which is set to open in March 2016 at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s former, Marcel Breuer–designed headquarters. The high modernist building will be renovated prior to the beginning of the Met’s eight-year lease and will include a “book bar,” the museum announced.

The Breuer building’s re-up will include a restoration of the concrete walls, stone floors, bronze fixtures, and lighting, all of which had been lightly damaged by a combination of time and weather. New York–based architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle will oversee the renovation, which is the result of a collaboration between the Whitney and the Met. This is the first renovation since the Breuer building opened its doors to the public in 1966. (Meanwhile, the Met is currently in the middle of renovating its modern art galleries, with a planned completion date of 2020.)

The Met also announced that its inaugural program will span all four floors of the museum. It had previously announced that it will open with a 140-work show of incomplete art in the Met’s collection from the Renaissance to the present, titled “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible,” and a survey of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi’s career. (The details of “Unfinished” have long been cloaked in mystery, but now the Met is saying that the exhibition will include works by Rembrandt, Andy Warhol, Luc Tuymans, and Louise Bourgeois, among many others.) Diane Arbus and Kerry James Marshall surveys are planned for July and October 2016, respectively. Speculation that the Met Breuer will do a show of work from Jean Pigozzi’s collection of contemporary African art has yet to be confirmed.

The Met Breuer’s lobby will feature a performance installation by Vijay Iyer, who will be an artist in residence. The lobby and lower level will be free of charge.

Also on the lobby level will be what the Met is calling a “book bar,” or a place to display art books and catalogues, in line with Breuer’s original design. As in the past, the lower level will also be home to a restaurant and allow for entry to a sunken garden.

“Our approach to inhabiting and interpreting the building honors Breuer’s intent for the space, highlighting its unique character as an environment for the presentation of modern and contemporary art,” Thomas P. Campbell, the director and CEO of the Met, said in a statement. “The wonderfully scaled galleries and interior spaces of The Met Breuer provide a range of opportunities to present our modern and contemporary program, in addition to our galleries in the Fifth Avenue building.”

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