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Black Girl’s Window, Betye Saar
Black Girl’s Window, Betye Saar (1969)via MoMA

The MoMA is closing to reopen as a more inclusive museum

The New York museum is rethinking how it presents its collections to represent more women and people of colour

The Museum of Modern Art has announced its plan to close for four months in the summer, as part of its expansion and plan to reopen with a completely reorganised collection, which will be inclusive of modern and contemporary artists who have been historically overlooked. 

According to the MoMA’s director Glenn Lowry, the four month long closure from June to October was necessary for the $400 million expansion of the space, but also to recalibrate how they present art. In the huge new space, attention will be given to newly hanging art from women, people of colour and the most underrepresented and under-recognised artists. As the New York Times reports, this includes work by Japanese experimental photographer Shigeru Onishi and Haitian painter Herve Telemaque. The art shown will be a mix of media, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, film, design, and architecture. 

Lowry told press: “A new generation of curators is discovering the richness of what is in our collection, and there is great work being made around the world that we need to pay attention to. It means that the usual gets supplanted now by the unexpected.”

“The real value of this expansion is not just more space, but space that allows us to rethink the experience of art in the museum.”

The plan is to rotate the art on display in the galleries every six to nine months for the first time, to fully explore the history of modern and contemporary art. As a result, the Picassos and van Goghs will be rotated with work by the likes of Igbo-Nigerian-American performer and choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili and painter Betye Saar. Stories from across Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa and beyond will be chronicled. 

According to the Art Newspaper, a chronological spine will connect museum’s second, fourth, and fifth floor galleries while directly challenging the Modernist canon. Ann Temkin, the MoMa’s chief curator of painting and sculpture, said: “The chronology will be expansive because chronology isn’t as neat as you think. Figures that once seemed secondary will now seem primary.”

MoMA will officially shutdown from 15 June to 21 October as the $400 million renovation and rehanging takes place. It will reopen with a survey of Latin American art and solo shows by Betye Saar and Pope L.