The New Museum primarily advocates for “free and open society” and welcomes “difference, debate, and multiple viewpoints.” Founding director Maria Tucker hatched the idea to erect a building dedicated to the support of contemporary artists.
Having first worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art, she noticed that contemporary artists were not as revered as older artists. Therefore, contemporary artists were less celebrated or desired at many museums. To combat stigma against contemporary artists, Tucker set up an institution that created space for the flourishing of contemporary art.
The New Museum, designed by Tokyo-based architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA, stands at seven stories. The building is between Stanton and Rivington Streets. The building is a neutral beige and the architects stacked the floors on top of one another like Jenga. The lack of perfect linearity gives the New Museum an interesting and unique look that forces visitors to stop and reflect. The architects wanted the building to embody fearlessness and elegance.
The museum experiments with monochromatic color schemes on the inside. The interior of the museum is polished; smooth, gray concrete floors greet visitors as they step inside. Continuing further into the museum, visitors and tourists pass by a white auditorium that serves as a prime venue for special installations and projects. The elevators, contrary to both the lobby and event hall, are a vibrant green.
Additionally, the inside of the building plays with a lot of open space. The main exhibition space on the second floor seems expansive and roomy. Skylights throughout the museum also let in sunlight and open air. The color and space dynamics reflect the mission and purpose of the museum.
In addition to creating exhibition spaces and installations, the New Museum also gives workshops, hosts after school programs, and maintains a digital archive that houses over 6,000 exhibition images.
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