The museums of the major municipalities - the counties - of New York City are not as famous as the city-wide - or even the entire country - like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMA Museum of Modern Art, or the Whitney Gallery. But they are much closer to the ordinary city dweller, and although their budget is ten times more modest than that of their leading "brethren", their role as a link between works of art and the viewer is no less important.
The Bronx Museum of Art has now reopened after renovation by the Arcitectonics workshop in Miami. When this cultural institute was founded in 1971, it was located on the premises of the District Court. In 1982, he moved to an empty synagogue that lost its congregation as the area gradually transformed from a middle-class stronghold into a territory populated by Hispanics. This building was not suitable for a museum, so the first attempt at rebuilding was made back in 1988, but without much success.
Now the dull concrete box is hidden by an aluminum "screen", the vertical lines of its bends are opposed to the squat brick buildings of the surrounding development. Narrow windows are hidden in the depths of these "folds" and do not disturb the unity of the façade. The high ceilings of the lobby are supported by a single support, and a ramp located at the wall farthest from the entrance leads to the exhibition halls. The interiors of the galleries are very discreet, with white walls and gray concrete floors that are suitable for almost any exhibition. The only bright spot is the mural by local Latin American artists on the lobby wall.
But this is all - so far only the first stage of perestroika. To the south of the existing building, a complex with new exhibition halls, a theater room and a high-rise apartment building is to be built. All this will also be erected according to the Arcitectonics project.
For the Queens Museum, renovation has just begun. Nicholas Grimshaw's project includes converting the indoor hockey stadium into a new wing, as well as refurbishing the façade and interiors. The building was originally built for the 1939 International Art Deco Exhibition, and in 1946-1950 it was the first seat of the UN General Assembly. In 1964, it was used as the New York pavilion at the International Exhibition. The museum was housed there in 1972, when a permanent exhibition of a collection of Tiffany glassware was arranged in its halls. In 1994, the building was renovated according to a project by Raphael Vignoli, and in 2002 Eric Owen Moss won the competition for a large-scale reconstruction of the museum. But, in the end, his version was considered insufficient for the needs of the institute.
Grimshaw proposed a discreet and carefully thought-out project to the management of the museum. Its most striking detail is the so-called "winter garden", a glazed courtyard that can be used for the exhibition of sculptures and for receptions. From there, light enters the surrounding halls. The eastern façade overlooking the park will retain its original 1939 portico, behind which will be a glass curtain wall. The western façade, facing the busy street, will also be glazed, and its acid frosted glass panels will have the name of the museum inscribed in all 138 languages spoken by Queens.