Like so many city trends these days, it started in Brooklyn. First, in April 2004, the Brooklyn Museum of Art unveiled its $63 million renovation, complete with a new 15,000-square-foot entrance pavilion. Seven months later came — did you hear about this little thing? — Manhattan’s new MoMA, built at a cost of $858 million. And last week the Bronx Museum of the Arts unveiled a hipper façade and addition, by the Miami architects Arquitectonica. (Nicolai Ouroussoff called it “unpretentious,” which is so very outer borough). Now, not to be left out, the Queens Museum of Art has announced its own $37 million expansion plan, which includes doubling the size of the museum. (Still, not all are impressed; the Sun called the new design “a drab gray structure.”) Which all adds up to one question: What about art lovers in the city’s so-often-forgotten borough, Staten Island? Don’t they deserve a little newness too?
Turns out the city’s only “general interest” museum has been quietly planning its own expansion — since the eighties. Plans were made, then budgets were slashed, and nothing ever got off the ground. But now it’s finally happening. Buoyed by extra capital and support from the Bloomberg administration, a plan is moving forward to renovate and restore two landmarked Greek Revival buildings in the Snug Harbor Cultural Center. The museum is located nearby, close to the ferry terminal; the move is expected in 2009 or 2010.
So do the Staten Islanders feel jealous of all this attention on other boroughs’ museums? “Um, I don’t think there’s so much of a competition,” says Henryk Behnke, the Staten Island Museum’s marketing and development veep, after a long pause. “We’re just in the early stages. We want to make the unveiling in a year and a half. It has to be timed very well. Hopefully, we’ll have the mayor here.” Hope away, guys. We bet Brooklyn was able to get the mayor.
— Melena Ryzik
CORRECTION, Oct. 16: An earlier version of this piece said the expanded museum would include an Olympic-sized pool and a skating rink. In fact, an existing pool and rink are being displaced by the expansion; the city is building replacements elsewhere in the park.