Folk art museum to open space in Queens

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Planned annexe in Long Island City will be in the same neighbourhood as MoMA QNS

Together again? The American Folk Art Museum and MoMA could soon be neighbours once more

The American Folk Art Museum plans to open an annexe in Queens to house its collection and library. “We have just signed an agreement,” the museum’s director, Anne Radice, says. The annexe will also provide the institution with additional space for exhibitions as well as improve access for researchers, she says.

The Queens annexe will be near the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, confirms a spokeswoman. This puts it in the same neighbourhood in Long Island City as MoMA QNS, the Museum of Modern Art’s satellite store and library.

When the folk art museum had to sell its purpose-built but ultimately too expensive Midtown home in 2011, the institution downsized to its smaller space on the Upper West Side on Lincoln Square. Its next show there “Self-Taught Genius” is due to open next month (13 May-17 August), the start of a seven-venue, nationwide tour. Featuring more than 100 key works from its 5,000-strong collection, the touring exhibition and accompanying symposium, website and publication have been made possible thanks to a $1.6m grant from the Luce Foundation.

Founded in 1961, the institution’s recovery began in earnest when Radice secured the Luce Foundation award last year. With the opening of an annexe in Queens, the folk- and outsider-art museum’s prospects look much brighter but talk of finding a bigger space in Manhattan is premature: Radice says that other than the annexe “right now we are not about real estate”.

Meanwhile, MoMA has begun the controversial demolition of the folk art museum’s former home on West 53rd street, to make way for its expansion. Last year, the folk art museum issued a statement expressing its gratitude to MoMA for buying its former building while offering sympathy to its architects Tod Williams and Billy Tsien.

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