Lonely Planet Writer

Harlem's Studio Museum is getting a new home for its 50th anniversary

Ghanaian-British architect, David Adjaye, has designed a brand new building to house Harlem’s Studio Museum – dedicated to the work of modern African-American artists.

Harlem’s new Studio Museum. Image by Adjaye Associates

“We are thrilled to announce that during our 50th anniversary year, we will begin construction on the single biggest initiative the Studio Museum has ever undertaken, making David Adjaye’s brilliant design a reality,” explained Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum. The new museum, due to open in 2021, has a campaign goal of $175 million to complete the project. A staggering 70% of the figure has already been reached thanks to help from the City of New York, plus private individuals, foundations, and corporations.

Architect’s rendering of the interior space. Image by Adjaye Associates

Inspired by the brownstones, churches, and sidewalks of Harlem, the new building design will have a sculptural facade, and a light-filled core that soars up through the entire interior. The 82,000-square-foot space will include areas for lectures, screenings, performances and educational activities. “We look forward to constructing a building that provides unprecedented resources for our work and creates a superb new cultural landmark for Harlem and the entire City of New York,” said Golden. There will also be a welcome center and café inside the building, which has five floors and a rooftop terrace. On both the 125th and 124th Street sides of the building, there will be outdoor sculptures on show.

How the building is expected to look from street level. Image by Adjaye Associates

Launched in 1968, the Studio Museum has been a trailblazer in the cultural conversation, explained Mayor Bill de Blasio. It has “fostered the careers of emerging artists of African descent, and served as an anchor in Harlem,” said de Blasio. “We are excited about the unique potential that the museum’s new home brings with it.”

The building is expected to open in 2018. Image by Adjaye Associates

In the lead up to the unveiling of the new building, exhibitions in the current structure will include Fictions, a survey of recent work by emerging artists of African descent; We Go as They, featuring works created by resident artists; and Their Own Harlems – an exhibition to honor the hundredth anniversary of Jacob Lawrence’s birth, with pieces by some twenty artists that reflect on Harlem. The final exhibitions in the gallery’s old structure will run until 7 January 2018, construction will begin thereafter.

Initially founded by artists, community activists, and philanthropists, the Studio Museum has become an international name for outstanding artists of African descent. The Artist-in-Residence programme was one of the gallery’s first initiatives. Former residents include David Hammons, Julie Mehretu, Chakaia Booker, Kerry James Marshall, Wangechi Mutu, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley.

Visit here for more information on upcoming exhibitions.