In 2015, the Studio Museum in Harlem announced that it would work with British architect David Adjaye on a new, expansive headquarters, replacing its current, too-small space on West 125th Street. And now, the beloved cultural institution is taking steps toward making that new space a reality, announcing today that the groundbreaking for its new home will happen next year.
The groundbreaking is timed to coincide with the museum’s 50th anniversary; it was founded in 1968 by a group of artists that included the late Betty Blayton-Taylor and Carter Burden. It’s been in its current space—a century-old Harlem building that was retrofitted to serve its needs—since 1982, but as the institution has become more popular, it’s outgrown the old building.
The new museum HQ will be a marked improvement: It’ll span 82,000 square feet, with more than 17,000 of that devoted to galleries and exhibition space. The five-story building will have plenty of public space—a cafe and shop, lecture halls, and more—along with an expansive roof deck and room for the museum’s staff on the fifth floor.
“Above all, we have sought to create spaces that celebrate the rich heritage of the institution, its relationship with artists and its role as a pillar of Harlem’s cultural life,” Adjaye said in a press release.
To do so, the architect took inspiration from the neighborhood’s surrounding buildings, with a design that Adjaye has said resembles an inverted stoop—just like the ones found throughout Harlem. The museum will also have a “multiuse space” that will be free and open for community members.
In order to facilitate construction, the museum will have to close for a yet-to-be-determined period of time, with three recently-opened exhibits the last to be shown in the old building. After January 7 next year, the building will shut its doors, and programming will be held at other institutions (including the Maysles Documentary Cinema and Barnard College) for the duration of construction.
The new museum is being funded through a public-private partnership, with the city contributing nearly $54 million, and additional sources ponying up $62 million. To date, the museum has raised $175 million, which allows it to begin the first phase of construction; the
“We are excited about the unique potential that the Museum’s new home brings with it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “As they embark on creating a one-of-a-kind space to serve as a platform for the creative work of the artists from around the world, the Studio Museum is poised to have an even greater impact on the Harlem community, the City of New York, and the global cultural conversation.”