Memory Palace

The story of why the building may be demolished features the familiar churn of art and commerce on a densely-inhabited island. The Museum of Modern Art, after moving from nearby galleries into its landmark modernist building of 1939, expanded across more and more of its city block. By the late nineties, MOMA had acquired enough of that block to commission the Japanese architect and museum specialist, Yoshio Taniguchi, to do a sweeping 2004 renovation and expansion. An expansion that increased gallery space from eighty-five thousand to one-hundred-and-twenty-five thousand square feet, but suppressed the museum’s colorful architectural history of accretions and additions under sleek black facades and white-walled interiors. The Houston-based developer Hines, which bought the western quarter of MOMA’s land in 2007, plans to build an eighty-two-story skyscraper, the base of which will include some forty thousand further square feet of galleries. Complicating those plans was The American Folk Art

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