One of the world’s greatest art museums, New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), opened up barely a week after the 1929 Wall Street Crash. Emerging from those dreary financial origins, the museum now has more than three million annual visitors to its two locations in Manhattan and Queens and is in the midst of a huge expansion project.
The previous expansion took place in 2004, when the museum expanded to 630,000 square feet. When that was completed, museum officials expected the visitors to reach two million, a severe underestimate in retrospect.
The Manhattan portion of the museum will be where the money for this renovation goes, with plans to add three new floors of galleries. The most prominent donor of the original $650 million plan was entertainment executive David Geffen, but an additional $281 million was brought in to help finance debt and raise more money for the effort.
Rather than depend on additional donations, the securing of the money was achieved through the sale of tax-exempt bonds. Given the historically low interest rates currently in place, the decision will save money and avoid waiting for years to undertake the project.
Looking at the breakdown of money that will be used, $50 million is geared toward renovations and $400 million is focused on using the first three floors of an 82-story apartment complex that’s currently being built next door.
MOMA used to own the land before selling to developers. One reasons for their interest in making it easy for residents there to check out the galleries is that it offers an easy way to help entice them to give to the museum. There should be no problem with those donors coming up with money, since the starting price to purchase an apartment is $3 million.