This year, October 21 has been the most-anticipated day of the season in the New York art world—that was when the Museum of Modern Art was expected to open its doors to the public following a months-long closure for a $450 million renovation and expansion project. But MoMA uncorked a surprise: the museum opened today, Sunday, October 20.
For an event called “A Day for New York,” MoMA has thrown open its doors early, and is offering free admission all day. On Sunday, anyone can see the museum’s new permanent collection galleries, its Betye Saar and Pope.L shows, and its sundry other offerings without paying a cent.
Asked about the move, a MoMA spokesperson told ARTnews in an email, “We decided to celebrate with visitors from New York and around the world by offering free admission to all on Sunday, one day before we officially open the new MoMA on October 21. Come and celebrate with us!” (The official opening, the rep emphasized, remains October 21.)
The new MoMA, in a renovation overseen by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, adds 30 percent more gallery space, dramatically enlarging the museum. As ARTnews executive editor Andrew Russeth wrote in his review of the museum, “The idea of going to this capital of modernism and seeing it all in a day has been a questionable notion since the 2004 expansion. It is now impossible.” Which means, of course, that Sunday’s visit alone probably won’t do it, but unusual sightings abound in the museum’s new rehang, and it’s worth returning to find the hidden treasures alone.
Though the new MoMA has been cause for celebration, it has also generated controversy among some activists. On Friday, during a party toasting the museum’s reopening, activists briefly entered the lobby bearing banners that urged MoMA and one of its trustees, Larry Fink, to cut alleged financial connections to private prisons. A protest against Steven Tananbaum, a trustee at the museum whose investment firm owns billions in debt from Puerto Rico, is planned for Monday.