The Studio Museum in Harlem marks milestone in construction of its new home

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The Studio Museum in Harlem marks milestone in construction of its new home
The building has a porous, welcoming presence at street level, a light-filled core that soars up through the entire interior, and a tiered public hall, which the architect has likened to an “inverted stoop,” which invites people to step down from the street into a multiuse space that will be free and open to the public during Museum hours and used for presentations and informal gatherings.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Studio Museum in Harlem, the preeminent institution dedicated to artists of African descent, today joined with civic leaders, trustees, artists, friends, patrons, and members of its vibrant community for Creating Space, a ceremony marking the next phase in the construction of the Museum’s new home on West 125th Street. New York’s Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray joined Studio Museum Director and Chief Curator Thelma Golden, Sir David Adjaye (architect of the museum’s new home, with Cooper Robertson), and artists Theaster Gates and Yaw Agyeman for the celebratory event, held on the plaza of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, directly across 125th Street from the site where the new Studio Museum will rise.

Also participating in Creating Space were New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Gonzalo Casals, Studio Museum Board Chair Raymond J. McGuire, and Studio Museum Vice-Chair Carol Sutton Lewis.

In honor of the Studio Museum’s storied history and its intergenerational network of artists, Theaster Gates and Yaw Agyeman (a collaborator with Gates in the collective The Black Monks) gave a spoken-and-sung-word performance naming artists represented in the permanent collection. Leading arts professionals associated with the Studio Museum who were present for the ceremony included Naomi Beckwith from the Guggenheim, Patrick Charpenel from El Museo del Barrio, Kate Fowle from MoMA PS1, Anna Glass from Dance Theater of Harlem, Max Hollein from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Uzodinma Iweala from The Africa Center, Sandra Jackson-Dumont from the Lucas Museum, Glenn Lowry from MoMA, Jonelle Procope from the Apollo Theatre, and Adam D. Weinberg from the Whitney Museum.

Site preparation is complete and foundation work has begun for the Studio Museum’s new purpose-built home, which replaces a century-old commercial building on the site that had been adapted for the Museum in the early 1980s by the late, renowned architect J. Max Bond Jr. Thelma Golden announced that the Studio Museum has commissioned Theaster Gates to create a site-specific artwork to be installed in the lobby of the new building using materials he extracted from the Museum’s former home, keeping alive the memories of decades of creative activity in that place and maintaining a trace of the presence of J. Max Bond Jr.

Thelma Golden said, “We have embarked on the adventure of creating a new, purpose-built museum, envisioned by one of the most inventive and visionary architects of our time. The building we celebrate today will be a physical manifestation of our mission, supporting and enabling everything we do for artists of African descent, for our beloved community of Harlem, for New York City, and for our visitors from around the world.”

Raymond J. McGuire said, “We are a community of builders, all committed to creating a magnificent new space for the Studio Museum, and a state-of-the-art space where artists can create. This new building is going to be the global epicenter where today’s public, and tomorrow’s, can encounter great artists of African descent of every generation. It will be one of the crown jewels in New York City’s cultural mosaic and give our rapidly evolving neighborhood of Harlem the profoundly authentic cultural center it must have.”

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