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2005 05 12
Lesson from MoMA - Reprised
imageWe’re three years away from the grand (re)opening of the transformed Art Gallery of Ontario, and one could reasonably ask what New York’s Museum of Modern Art could teach us even from this chronological distance. Seizing the occasion of MoMA’s reopening in January after an $800-million plus expansion seemed an opportune time for our Board of Trustees to go and experience from the inside this great relaunching of the world’s greatest museum of modern art.

The new MoMA is really the first great building since 9/11, and being there we had a very real sense that the city is being reborn, that it is in the midst of a spiritual reawakening and great things are still possible.

During and after our visit, what struck me was the realization, in very passionate terms, that it isn’t just a matter of building a museum. It’s building a city. We’re not just building these rooms for art but also adding something to the fabric of the civic space – the space where you live, the space you care about.

There are special characteristics about the MoMA’s architecture -- visibility into the street, the relationship from one room to another and how you walk through the spaces, the focus on the experience of art. In many ways that’s what we want to do at the AGO. We want to create great experiences with art, and this dynamic relationship with the street. We want to create great viewing rooms and also great meeting places where people can gather and exchange their experiences about what they’ve seen.

That’s the challenge we face with Transformation AGO -- how to create an art museum that anticipates what you want an art museum to be. And that’s what architect Frank Gehry is working on with our building. Watching our volunteer board gravitate around those issues as they themselves were experiencing the new MoMA was exciting. Thinking about how Transformation AGO is going to function and what it’s actually going to do for the city -- MoMA helped bring that experience alive.

Image © Gehry International Architects, Inc.
[email this story] Posted by Matthew Teitelbaum / AGO on 05/12 at 02:04 PM

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