Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 276-06
August 2, 2006


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today broke ground on a major expansion project at the Museum of the City of New York. Designed by Polshek Partnership Architects, the project will provide an additional 23,000 square feet of space, including a renovated lobby and a new state-of-the-art curatorial center and gallery.  The Mayor's office, together with the City Council, has invested a total $17 million towards the $28 million project which is expected be completed in 2008.  Joining the Mayor at the ground breaking was Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Museum President and Director Susan Henshaw Jones and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Newton P.S. Merrill.

“Today marks a major milestone for this important institution that has, in recent years, succeeded in attracting new and diverse audiences and enriching the museum’s connection to its vibrant East Harlem community,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “The Museum of the City of New York is an institution that embraces the present as much as it cherishes the past.  The Administration’s significant support for this project reflects our commitment to ensuring that cultural organizations such as this one can fulfill their invaluable role in enhancing neighborhoods and improving our quality of life.”

“The City Council is proud to have invested in one of New York City's cultural and historical jewels,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn.  “The history of the five boroughs - with its diversity and vibrancy - is at the heart of the City¹s strength.   By investing in these renovation and expansion projects, we celebrate our shared past and we inspire future generations to make our City stronger in years ahead.” 

 “This project is an example of an institution really maximizing its space and becoming a more a dynamic part of the neighborhood,” said Commissioner Levin.  “The City has always had a major stake in the Museum of the City of New York, and with its rising attendance, an increased interest from the private sector, and a compelling vision for the future, we have a real opportunity to help ensure the Museum can fulfill its public mission in a robust and engaging way.”

Throughout the construction project, the Museum will remain open to the public. The design concept, by the award-winning firm Polshek Partnership Architects, features a new curatorial center, with two floors for climate-controlled collections storage and access; a new gallery, with 3,200 square feet of space; a modernized lobby and admissions area; and the restoration of the rotunda. The project will also include the installation of state-of-the-art environmental controls and an improved entrance for people with disabilities.

This is the first phase of an overall modernization program that will be completed in 2012 and at a total cost of $70 million.  Later phases will provide climate control for the existing landmark building and include a reorganization of the interior spaces with the first four floors dedicated to public use for exhibitions and public and school programs.

“We are thrilled with the public’s response to the exhibitions and programs at the Museum of the City of New York,” said Museum director Susan Henshaw Jones. “As our content continues to address the history and diversity of the people of the five boroughs of New York City, it is heartening to know that we are not only making an impact within our own East Harlem and upper Manhattan neighborhood, but that we are also forging even stronger alliances around the boroughs.”
“This groundbreaking will begin the work that is long overdue and bring the Museum solidly into the 21st century,” said board chair Newton P.S. Merrill.  “The addition will enable us to better protect and house our collections while providing a brilliant new gallery for public exhibitions. We express our enormous gratitude to the Mayor and to the City Council for their support.  The Museum's very generous trustees have also made this project possible, and many other people have worked tirelessly to see this plan become a reality.”

Over the past five years, the Museum has undergone a dramatic transformation. Contributed and earned income has increased 203%, audience attendance has more than doubled, and recent exhibitions such as The High Style of Dorothy Draper have attracted nationwide critical and popular acclaim.  Upcoming exhibitions include Black Style Now, opening September 9, 2006, the first exhibition to explore African American style and the impact of hip hop on mainstream fashion; The Glory Days:  New York Baseball, 1947-1957; and The Ultimate Volunteers:  New York and the Spanish Civil War. 

The Museum of the City of New York is dedicated to examining the history of the City’s five boroughs.  It was organized in 1923 and located at Gracie Mansion.  Construction of the Georgian colonial Fifth Avenue building began in 1929 and was completed in 1932 by the architect Joseph J. Freedlander.  The City of New York supplied City-owned land, and the Museum raised $2 million from 1,329 New Yorkers, including such community leaders as James Speyer, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Edward S. Harkness.  Over the years, the Museum has collected broadly, with prominent holdings that help to document the history of New York City.


Stu Loeser/Silvia Alvarez   (212) 788-2958


Sara Rutkowski   (Department of Cultural Affairs)
(212) 643-6690

More Resources