NYU's Grey Art Gallery moves into new home renamed Grey Art Museum

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NYU's Grey Art Gallery moves into new home renamed Grey Art Museum
Installation view of Americans in Paris: Artists Working in Postwar France, 1946–1962 at the Grey Art Museum, New York University. Designed by Ennead Architects. Photo: David Heald.

NEW YORK, NY.- After nearly a half century on Washington Square, the Grey Art Gallery, New York University’s fine arts museum, reopened in a purpose-designed, larger, and more visible space at 18 Cooper Square in lower Manhattan on Saturday, this past March 2, 2024. With this transformational move, the Grey was renamed the Grey Art Museum.

The Grey’s new facility occupies the entire ground floor of a venerable brick and iron building in the historic Noho district, its storefront fašade facing out onto a busy pedestrian thoroughfare at the intersection of the East Village and NoHo. The new premises at 18 Cooper Square accommodates three galleries—expanding exhibition space by 40%—and a new study center enabling more direct access to the collection for students, faculty, and researchers. In addition to the study center, the lower-level houses art preparation/fabrication shops, storage, and several offices.

“Our new home at 18 Cooper Square is an ideal platform on which to play an even larger and more integral role in the life of the university and the downtown arts community,” says Lynn Gumpert, Grey Art Museum Director. “Because many of NYU’s provostial centers and institutes are housed next door, we will be able to collaborate even more extensively with the cultural and intellectual spheres of NYU’s global network and enhance our abilities to serve the needs of students.”

The game-changing move is made possible in part by a generous gift from Dr. James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett, longtime art patrons and social activists. The couple has also donated more than 100 works of contemporary art (from a promised 200), drawn from their extensive art collection focusing on downtown artists. One of the new galleries will be named the Cottrell- Lovett Gallery and the research facility, the Cottrell-Lovett Study Center.

A prominent street entrance provides a clear view of the reception area and entrance hall, bookstore, and main exhibition spaces. The elegant simplicity of the design, which is on track to be certified as LEED Gold, belies extensive upgrades to the turn-of-the- 20th-century building to achieve dynamic facilities supportive of future programming.

NYU worked with the acclaimed New York-based firm Ennead Architects on the creation of the new museum. The project was designed by Partner Richard Olcott FAIA and managed by Partner Molly McGowan AIA. Says Olcott, “Ennead is delighted to have created a new space that is significantly larger, more accessible, and designed to better support the Grey’s exceptional vision, curation, and collection. The Grey Art Museum now has a visible street presence and identity, facilitating greater engagement with the community, and a flexible interior which allows for new experiences.”

The name “Grey Art Museum” will better express the range of the institution, which presents meticulously researched exhibitions on fascinating and often little-known subjects, while maintaining and interpreting the over 6,000 works in the permanent collection. “For almost 50 years, the Grey has been one of New York's great treasures, with an impact that has far exceeded its size, and wonderful, carefully curated shows that have delighted art lovers from all over. In its fabulous new, more spacious, and more accessible quarters, the Grey will continue contributing to making lower Manhattan a world-class arts destination," notes NYU President Linda Mills.

The Grey Art Museum will continue to focus on exhibitions and programs that expand our understanding of the New York downtown art scene. Indeed, inaugurating the Grey Art Museum is Americans in Paris: Artists Working in Postwar France, 1946–1962. Surprisingly, the exhibition is the first scholarly overview of the expatriate art scene in Paris after World War II. Among the over 200 Americans who moved to France on the newly inaugurated GI Bill were a number of key downtown denizens. The exhibition and the 300-page volume that accompanies it examine truisms about New York’s postwar ascendancy and offer a timely reconsideration of questions artists grappled with as they forged a new modernity for the postwar era. Organized by independent curator Debra Bricker Balken with Lynn Gumpert, Americans in Paris brings together some 130 paintings, sculptures, films, photographs, and works on paper by nearly 70 artists, including Ed Clark, Beauford Delaney, Carmen Herrera, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Nancy Spero, Jack Youngerman, and the filmmaker Melvin van Peebles. The exhibition illuminates the achievements of a number of artists whose work has not received the recognition it merits, including James Bishop, Ralph Coburn, Harold Cousins, Claire Falkenstein, and Shinkichi Tajiri.

A selection of works from the NYU Art Collection is featured in the Entrance Hall, rounding out the inaugural exhibition programming. This new space will accommodate rotating groupings of artworks throughout the year, allowing focused interpretations and provocative pairings. Altogether, the Grey’s move to Cooper Square will open up its holdings as never before.

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