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December 11, 2013

Meet the New Queens Museum

By Sasha Levine | Art

Meet the New Queens Museum
Courtesy of Scott Rudd

With the re-opening of the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park last month, a different interpretation of an art institution began to emerge in New York’s largest borough.

After seven years of construction and a $69 million renovation to the museum’s original New York City Building (first constructed for the 1939 World’s Fair), the space has doubled in size and scope, thanks to a 50,000-foot expansion by Grimshaw Architects.

Evoking the idea of a town square or a public forum—“true places where public discourse exists,” says David Strauss, director of the museum’s external affairs and capital projects—the renovated building is a medley of glass, steel, LED lights and open spaces.

It’s an ethos that is integral to its mission to be a community institution, with programming that goes far beyond the banner of art, and one that’s committed to reflecting its location in the most ethnically diverse county in the country.

“We take both ‘Queens’ and ‘Museum’ seriously, seeking to activate conversations that span the art world and real world,” Strauss says. “What we are doing as an institution is setting a new paradigm for what a 21st-century art museum can be in an urban setting.”

That includes a wide range of exhibitions—the first solo show of Bread and Puppet Theatre founder Peter Schumann and “The People’s United Nations” (an exploration of diplomacy and conflict resolution) by artist Pedro Reyes kicked things off—as well as programming offered by a team of art therapists, educators and community organizers.

“We do see ourselves as an alternative space,” Strauss says. “The role of the traditional art museum is played to perfection by our sister institutions, which allows us to forge our own path. We learn from their example in certain practices, and hopefully along the way they can learn from us as well.” Flushing Meadows Corona Park; queensmuseum.orgcom.

Upcoming Exhibitions
• “Do you want the cosmetic version or do you want the real deal? Los Angeles Poverty Department (1986-2013)”:
The first museum survey of the LAPD, a performance group founded by artist, director and activist John Malpede. Opens February 2, 2014.
• “Andy Warhol’s 13 Most Wanted Men and the 1964 World’s Fair”: Marks the 50th anniversary of the first showing of the mural 13 Most Wanted Men, which was first displayed 200 yards from the new museum’s location. Opens April 20, 2014.

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