Studio Museum in Harlem Unveils Design for Expansion

06STUDIOWEB-articleLargeThe Studio Museum in Harlem, whose ambitions have long been checked by the limitations of its 1914 building, will construct a new $122 million home designed by the British architect David Adjaye on West 125th Street.

Plans for the new building, which will occupy the museum’s current lot near Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, are to be announced Monday.

With the new space, the museum, for the first time in its nearly 47-year history, will have a physical space created expressly to meet its needs and serve its mission: fostering and displaying work by artists of African descent.

No more droning air-conditioners in the galleries. Or children sitting on the floor for educational programs. Or total shutdowns of the museum three times a year because the current process of changing exhibitions is so disruptive to its operations.

“We have outgrown the space,” said Thelma Golden, the museum’s director and chief curator since 2005. “Our program and our audience require us to answer those demands.”

The project also signifies the Studio Museum’s move from the margins to the mainstream, having started as a place that brought attention to black artists who had been largely ignored by major museums. Now black artists are better represented in many institutions.

“The museum was a radical gesture to address the exclusion of black artists from the canonical presentation of art history,” Ms. Golden said.

After evaluating several architects, the museum selected the New York-based Mr. Adjaye because of what Ms. Golden described as his sensitivity to artists as well as to the neighborhood. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, Mr. Adjaye conducted a 10-year architectural study of the capital cities of Africa that resulted in a 2010 photography exhibition in London, and his building projects include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, now under construction.

JULY 5, 2015

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