The Bronx Museum of the Arts has announced plans for an architectural upgrade that will result in more space for public programs and exhibitions. The project, which is a public-private partnership between the museum and the city of New York, will be funded by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and overseen by the NYC Department of Design and Construction.
Through its Design and Construction Excellence program, the Department of Design and Construction has picked Monica Ponce de Leon to design the first installment of the project. Specifically, Ponce de Leon will be redesigning the museum’s South Wing Atrium, which will be renamed the Gallery Cube. Ponce de Leon currently serves as dean of Princeton University’s school of architecture and is co-curator of the United States Pavilion at the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture, which opens this month. South Wing Atrium renovations will begin in 2016 with an estimated completion date of 2020. The museum will remain open throughout. Plans for further redesigns are yet to be announced.
The museum projects a total cost of $25 million for the entire redesign: $15 million will be spent on construction costs, while $10 million will be put toward the establishment of an endowment to fund an increase in education and public programming. The mayor’s office, together with the support of the city council and the office of the Bronx borough president, has approved $6.9 million for the project’s first phase. New York State Assembly member Latoya Joyner has additionally provided $300,000. The museum is currently organizing a campaign to raise private funds for the rest.
In the first phase, the museum plans to transform the opaque South Wing Atrium into an energy-efficient and transparent Gallery Cube, which will host education, public, and community programs. The Gallery Cube will also serve as a shortcut between the museum’s north and south wings.
Subsequent phases of the project will involve a redesign of the museum’s internal architecture, specifically to augment the functionality of spaces that are currently underused. The museum also seeks to enhance visitor flow throughout the space, turn vacant lots into community sculpture gardens, and introduce a new performance and event space.
The museum has seen attendance rates quadruple in the past six years, due both to its free admission policy and well-received programming, like its recent popular and critically acclaimed Martin Wong retrospective.