2004-12-31 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

Rockaway Artists Alliance
by Susan Hartenstein


I recently wrote a column on the opening of the vastly renovated Museum of Modern Art. Some have expressed an interest in re-reading it. Your wish is my command.

One of the biggest buzzes in the art world these days centers around a ticket price. MoMA’s, that is.

The basic price of admission not that the Museum of Modern Art re-opens its Manhattan doors on November 20 to coincide with its 75th anniversary, is a chart-topping $20. This is up from the pre-renovation $12 price.

The Modern will, in fact cost more to enter than any other major art institution in the country. Of course you do get more museum for your money than you did before.

Almost twice as much space, in fact. The words “light” and “light-filled” are used a good bit in the museum’s publicity.

Starting with the lobby, the museum space, as designed by Yoshio Taniguchi, has been expanded considerably and, therefore, allows for an expanded amount of art on display as well as place for expanded research, education and public programming. The interior promenade of the lobby provides a view of the sculpture garden and the light-filled 110-foot high atrium.

The new six-story gallery building includes many double-height floors. Sky-lit galleries are featured.

Each floor now includes an area to purchase refreshments and to sit back and relax.

Unfortunately, there are those who would be cut out of habituating the museum, despite certain special discounts.

But museums like the Modern are hoping that the price increase will encourage membership, since the price of this money-saving deal remains the same as before for both individuals and families.

Administrators also believe, after extensive studies, that there will still be large enough numbers of people who will be willing and able to afford the increase in order to visit one of most prestigious of cultural houses.

MoMA’s price hike, though larger than other’s, reflects a trend in the world of major art institutions.

In an era when the costs of running a museum (especially an expanded museum) have increased and attendance has not increased accordingly; when certain economic facts have not been kind; when post 9-11 New York cultural attendance has been adversely affected, many other such institutions have also increased their prices.

Add on the fiscal demands of renovation and redesign.

Museum administrators did the math and made the choice of solving the economic crunch by increasing the basic fee.

One of the major facts of the re-opening is the end of the non-Manhattan, outer borough life of a Manhattan-prestige cultural icon.

By playing host to one of the art world’s Godfather’s, Queens seemed to be coming into its own, in terms of artistic image. For two years, the borough could boast that Manhattan had come to Queens.

This partnering really began when MoMA affiliated with P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center. Collaborative efforts have been to the benefit of both institutions as well as the public.

It will be interesting to see the long-term effects of this geography-shift, brief though it was, on the status climate of the burgeoning world of Queens art.

The converted Long Island City former Swingline staple factory that became MoMA QNS for the last two years will convert to a study and storage center for the museum. The MoMA-P.S. 1 affiliation continues.

Next week this column will take a look back and a look forward.

Remember that RAA has its own renovations going on up at the galleries in Fort Tilden.

And, in addition, we plan a season of exciting exhibitions during the new year, 2005.

CU@RoCA and have a great New Year’s celebration.

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