Surrounded by the Museum of Modern Art, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s Folk Art Museum has created a strong aesthetic identity with its stoic tombasil metal exterior. Upon its completion, the museum was named the ”Best New Building in the World in 2001” and has attracted art lovers to experience galleries filled with a wide variety of American Folk Art as well as the architecture itself [check out our AD Classics coverage of the museum]. However, the museum has been financially struggling in recent years as efforts to balance the budget have made little progress. After a thorough review of the situation, the board has decided to sell the museum to the Museum of Modern Art. More information after the break.
Constructed for 32 million dollars, the museum defaulted on its debt as attendance never met the projected expectations. Laura Parsons, President of the museum explained, “The constant burden of servicing and paying down this debt imperils the institution and distracts the museum’s board and staff from our pursuit of programmatic excellence.” With the MoMA set to purchase the museum, it is unsure whether the Folk Art building will remain intact. According to the Times, in 2007, MoMA sold a vacant lot near the Folk Art Museum to Hines with the understanding that Hines would construct a building to connect to MoMA on the north side of the block and provide additional gallery space. While the actual number is not confirmed, Parsons did say that the deal would allow the Folk Art Museum to retire its debt. In the future, the Folk Art Museum will operate out of its branch at Lincoln Center – a building 1/6th the side of the 53rd Street museum.