First it was the Whitney, then it was MoMa, the Frick, and even the Guggenheim; now it's the American Museum of Natural History's turn to take center-stage in the Expansion Debate theater. The museum's plan to expand into the surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park has already riled Upper West Side NIMBYs, and now DNAinfo reports that a breakout local group is banding together to shrink the project or thwart it altogether. Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park Inc. say that the museum's expansion into the public parkland is "reckless and insensitive."
According to its website, the museum plans on opening the 218,000-square-foot Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation at Columbus Avenue and 79th Street in 2019 or 2020. The center will be comprised of both an addition and reappointed space within the museum. The Defenders are recommending that the AMNH use already existing space within the museum or move other parts of its operation off-site to accommodate the new venue.
Defenders has launched a Change.org petition that has garnered nearly 1,800 signatures. The group will also be holding a Town Hall-style meeting on October 6. "We take the community's feedback and concerns very seriously," a statement from vice president of Government Affairs at AMNH Dan Slippen reads, "We understand there have been and will continue to be questions about the Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. When the conceptual design is completed we look forward to sharing it with the community and continuing the discussion." AMNH has tapped Jeanne Gang of Studio Gang to design the Gilder Center.
· Opponents of Natural History Museum Expansion Want Development Out of Park [DNAinfo]
· Save Theordore Roosevelt Park [Change.org]
· Proposed Natural History Museum Expansion Riles UWSers [Curbed]