Saturday 9 August 2014

Again, Museum for African Art scales down building project

By Tajudeen Sowole
This is not exactly cheering news, coming from the U.S. The ongoing construction of new building at Museum for African Art in New York has been scaled down. The authority recently announced plans to scale down its construction plans for financial constrains. 

Lobby of the ongoing construction at Africa Centre, New York, U.S.
Recall that the museum was one of the venues for the touring exhibition, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria - a collaborative effort of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and foreign partners - which traveled across Europe for nearly two years.

Originally scheduled to have opened in 2008, the project’s long delay, according to a source last year was due to expanding the institution into New Africa Centre with museum and policy institute. The new expansion, they said, will accommodate members’ club for business executives, cultural leaders and policy makers who may have interest in African subjects.

About a year ago, the museum went on wide fund raising, under what was to be a new name Africa Centre. But it got less than $1 million against an estimated target of more than $7 million raised in the previous year

It was budgeted at $135 million dollar originally. The project, according to the latest development, has been scaled down to $95 million dollar.  Sacrificed to accommodate the new reality are features such as carved wood expected from Ghana and a spiraling staircase as well as a theatre and restaurant.

Founded three decades ago, the museum was ready to sell what it called “naming rights” for $50 million. But sadly, it “found no takers.”

The plans for the new face of the edifice have been in the making since 1997, and a design unveiled ten years after.
Making a contribution, the Vice President of Clinton Foundation, Chelsea was said to have pledged a $9 million donation. However, October date completion has been targeted with the hope of raising $11 million.

To complete the construction of the edifice, which started in 2007, about $60 million dollar was being raised last year towards a target 2015 completion period.

Opened to the public in 1984, the Museum for African Art is dedicated to the arts and cultures of Africa and the African Diaspora. The Museum is internationally acknowledged as a preeminent organizer of exhibitions and publications related to historical and contemporary African art, with programs that are as diverse as the continent itself.

The Museum is currently planning a new building that will enable the long-needed expansion of the Museum's exhibitions, public programs, and educational initiatives. Designed by the celebrated Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, the new Museum for African Art will own and occupy about 90,000 square feet in a mixed-use joint-development project. The new Museum building is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 110th Street, in New York City, where it will join Manhattan's "Museum Mile." With its expansive exhibition and programming spaces, the new facility will enable the institution to dramatically expand the audiences it serves. An announcement of the Museum's public opening date will be made during the final phase of construction.

While it prepares for the public opening of its new quarters, the Museum continues to develop important exhibitions that travel to major venues internationally and are accompanied by scholarly publications. The Museum also presents a wide range of public programs for adults, families, and schoolchildren, held at locations throughout New York City.

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