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Queens Museum of Art announces new expansion doubling institution's size
The expansion will double the institution’s size to a grand total of 105,000 square feet upon completion. Photo: Courtesy of Grimshaw and the Queens Museum of Art.

QUEENS, NY.- The Queens Museum of Art announces the exhibition lineup for Fall 2013 to coincide with the opening of the museum’s expansion – Pedro Reyes’s The People’s UN (pUN), Peter Schumann: Black and White, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao: The New York City Building, and Queens International 2013. The Queens Museum of Art’s expansion project, designed by Grimshaw, will further enhance the museum’s ability to present high-quality art to the uniquely diverse communities of Queens through a broad variety of exhibitions and programs that reflect the richness and breadth of the cultural environment.

Doubling the institution’s size to a grand total of 105,000 square feet upon completion, the expansion will provide the museum with an additional 50,000 square feet of space, including a suite of new galleries, artist studios, flexible public and special event spaces, education classrooms, a café, back-of-house facilities, and visitor amenities. In addition, the west façade, facing the Grand Central Parkway, has been redesigned with a new entrance and drop-off plaza and that features a 200 x 27-foot glass wall that will announce the museum to the 244,000 motorists passing by every day. This entrance will also serve as a unique exhibition space for commissioned artworks that will adhere to the glass surface and features a flexible multi-colored lighting system, which will eventually present commissioned artist projects. The $68 million project also includes a second new entrance and expanded outdoor space on the Flushing Meadows Corona Park side of the building, as well as a generous skylit atrium. The expansion is supported by the Office of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, New York State, the New York City Council, and generous donations from private individuals and corporations. The Queens Museum of Art celebrated a groundbreaking on April 12, 2011 and is set to open in October 2013.

The inaugural exhibitions highlight the expanded gallery space and showcase the Queens Museum of Art’s dedication to presenting contemporary art that engages the various communities it serves. Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director of the museum states, “At the Queens Museum, our commitment to the local is as profound as our dedication to creating an international crossroads. In October, after years of design and construction, we will finally have the sort of exceptional space our community deserves, one that will allow us to continue to offer our innovative slate of exhibitions and programs.”

Regarding the design of the building, Mark Husser, Managing Partner at Grimshaw, states, "One of the great assets of the New York City Building, and the reason the building has survived and been adapted for so many different uses over the years, is its intrinsic structural logic and robustness. It is inherently flexible, and its long span roof will make it one of the largest art spaces in the city. It has good bones, hence, our design is to capitalize and amplify those qualities while making strategic interventions to create flexible contemporary art galleries, introduce natural light, and improve flow and circulation."

Also timed with the inauguration of the new building, the museum is undergoing a rebranding initiative with a new visual identity, a renaming of the institution from Queens Museum of Art to the Queens Museum, and launch of a redesigned website to accompany the fall reopening. Further details will be released in the coming months.

Pedro Reyes and The People’s UN
Pedro Reyes’s exhibition, The People’s UN, or pUN, brings together citizen representatives of the 193 member states of the United Nations for mock assemblies and performances which reference the building’s history of hosting the General Assembly of the UK beween 1946-1950. pUN will be presented as a counterforce to the UN. Reyes will employ alternative negotiation techniques drawn from radical theater, psychology, marriage counseling, and corporate management consulting as opposed to traditional diplomacy to address foreign relations issues. Humorously redeploying the format of the UN—caucuses, plenaries, simultaneous translation—pUN will entertain but also inform, and the objects and documents produced will be delivered to the UN in a culminating event. pUN is planned for November 2013, and will include both private and public performance sessions under the new massive central skylight.

Peter Schumann: Black and White
Also premiering with the opening of the museum’s expansion will be Peter Schumann: Black and White, the first solo museum exhibition of Bread and Puppet Theatre founder and director Peter Schumann. The Queens Museum of Art’s presentation of Schumann’s groundbreaking political performance art is a strong response to today’s urgent questions about the role of the artist in society, at a key moment for both the Queens Museum of Art and Bread and Puppet. The materials used to create Schumann’s large-scale puppets and stages—black and white house paint applied to discarded and recycled paper, cardboard, and fabric—reflect the bare-essential production values and approach to living that have been central to Schumann’s work for his entire career.

The exhibition consists of two large-scale immersive gallery installations combining new paintings, drawings, papier-mâché sculptures, handmade books, automata, and kinetic machines. It also includes pieces dating back some 50 years, which Schumann will deconstruct and reconstruct entirely, performing a survey of his work through the urgent lens of the present. A separate 40 x 150-foot mural will be created live, during viewing hours in the first week of the exhibition. Schumann will also stage monthly solo performances in a papier-mâché “chapel” housed within the larger installation. The exhibition will be mounted in the largest of the museum’s six new galleries, a skylit 2,600 sq. ft. space located just inside the new west entry.

Queens International 2013
Another highlight of the Queens Museum of Art’s reopening season will be Queens International 2013, the sixth edition of the Museum’s biennial exhibition of artists from around the world who live or work in Queens. This year the Queens Museum of Art has invited Meiya Cheng, co-founder of the Taipei Contemporary Art Center, to co-curate with Hitomi Iwasaki, Queens Museum of Art Director of Exhibitions/Curator. This marks the beginning of a new tradition for Queens International that engages a co-curator from overseas to consider the Queens art community in a fresh perspective. The show will also address globalization in Queens from a variety of angles by facilitating and implementing collaborative projects between Taipei-based and Queens-based artists.

Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao: The New York City Building
For the duration of the museum’s expansion project, Taiwan-born, Queens-based photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao has been in residence capturing the transformation of the New York City Building. A series of Liao’s large-scale photographs will chronicle this most recent metamorphosis while archival photographs, documentation and blueprints will convey the rich history of the building from its role as the New York City Pavilion in the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, home of the United Nations General Assembly (1946-1950), and site of both the Queens Museum of Art (1972 - today) and the World’s Fair Skating Rink (1952-1962; 1964-2008). In addition to Liao’s commissioned work, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao: The New York City Building will feature material from the Museum‘s archives, the United Nations Archive, the Archive of the New York City Parks Department, and Grimshaw.

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