MoMA to Raze Folk Art Museum


Only 12 years after opening on 53rd Street adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art, the America Folk Art Museum’s narrow, angular building, designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, will be torn down. According to the New York Times, where the news was reported last night, MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry informed the architects in person of the museum’s decision.

MoMA purchased the building in May 2011 for an undisclosed price, relieving the Folk Art Museum of its $31.9 million construction debt. Since that summer, the FAM has been organizing shows in a smaller space across from Lincoln Center. Currently on view there are oil paintings by William Matthew Prior and a group show of drawings and photographs of women by four self-taught artists.

In 2007 MoMA sold a neighboring piece of land to a real-estate developer, who plans to construct an 78-story apartment tower designed by French architect Jean Nouvel; this building will also include 52,000 square feet of exhibition space for MoMA. The museum’s current second, fourth and fifth floors will ultimately line up with those in both the Nouvel building and the extension they erect on the FAM lot once construction is complete, some time in 2017 or ’18, according to Lowry. MoMA hopes to have selected an architect and torn down the Williams-Tsien building by the end of this year.