American Folk Art Museum Building: Opinion and Coverage
American Folk Art Museum, 2011 | photo: Giles Ashford

American Folk Art Museum, 2011 | photo: Giles Ashford

As reported on May 9, 2013, by Robin Pogrebin in The New York Times, the Museum of Modern Art reconsidered its previously announced plan to raze the former American Folk Art Museum, a twelve-year-old building designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects that sits adjacent to MoMA’s current complex. The firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro was selected by a special committee of MoMA directors “to handle the expansion and to help determine whether to keep any of the existing [Folk Art] structure.” MoMA’s decision came after an outpouring of public reaction to the proposed demolition, including this open letter from The Architectural League to MoMA.

Annabelle Selldorf, President of The Architectural League, wrote this letter to the editor of the Times, published May 13, 2013, in response:

To the Editor:

“To Raze or Not? MoMA Rethinks Plan” (Arts pages, May 10) brings the welcome news that the Museum of Modern Art is reconsidering its plan to demolish the building that once housed the American Folk Art Museum. This is testimony to MoMA’s recognition of its role as an institution that carries the public trust. All parties stand to lose if this re-evaluation is merely an exercise.

On the other hand, if the Museum of Modern Art not only undertakes a sincere effort but also succeeds in finding a way to give this fine building a new meaning and reinvigorated purpose, it will be a triumph for MoMA, the new architects and New York City’s cultural landscape and public realm.

President, Architectural League of N.Y.
New York, May 10, 2013

On January 8, 2014, MoMA and Diller Scofidio + Renfro announced the design of an expansion to MoMA’s complex, which once again included the destruction of the American Folk Art Museum building. The critical and public reaction has remained just as strong and mostly negative. For information on the League’s current position, click here.

If you are interested in reading more on the reaction to MoMA’s announcements, consider these articles:

Robin Pogrebin in The New York Times and on Arts Beat
Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times
Justin Davidson on Vulture
Jerry Saltz on Vulture
Paul Goldberger in Vanity Fair
Martin Filler in The New York Review of Books
Christopher Hawthorne in The Los Angeles Times
Cathleen McGuigan and Laura Raskin in Architectural Record
Jennifer Maloney in The Wall Street Journal
Julie V. Iovine in The Wall Street Journal
Joseph Giovannini in Architect Magazine
Mark Lamster in The Dallas Morning News
Peter Schjeldahl in The New Yorker
Eric Gibson in The Wall Street Journal
Jed Perl in The New Republic
Christopher Hawthorne interview with Liz Diller in The Los Angeles Times
Mimi Zeiger in Dezeen
Alexandra Lange in Design Observer
Jorge Otero-Pailos in Artforum
Julian Rose in Artforum
Michael Sorkin
in The Nation


For more on the reaction to MoMA’s initial announcement, consider these articles:

Martin Filler in The New York Review of Books
Justin Davidson in New York Magazine; and an update
Jerry Saltz in New York Magazine
David Heymann in Places
Cathleen McGuigan in Architectural Record
Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times
Christopher Gray in The New York Times
Ned Cramer in Architect
Aaron Betsky in Architect
Julie Iovine in The Architect’s Newspaper
Thomas de Monchaux in The New Yorker