El Museo del Barrio Reopens October 17

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After undergoing extensive renovations, New York’s El Museo del Barrio announced today that it will reopen to the public on Saturday, October 17, 2009, with a landmark exhibition entitled Nexus New York: Latin/American Artists in the Modern Metropolis, and an all-day open house celebrating the launch of its expanded public programs. El Museo’s renovated and expanded facilities designed by Gruzen Samton Architects will host an exciting menu of public programming, a new space devoted to its permanent collection, and a café that will serve as a multipurpose programming space, bringing a sparkling new face to the Museum Mile’s only Latino institution. The reopening also marks the launch of El Museo’s 40th Anniversary celebrations, which will continue all year with a rich array of public programming, events, performances, and exhibitions. “In a city and a country where Latino culture has become so ubiquitous, El Museo del Barrio stands as a pivotal organization to present, preserve, and support the diversity and abundance of the arts of the Caribbean and Latin America. Our new, markedly-improved facility will allow for better programming and for an increased ability to serve our community and the public at large, and all who love the arts,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Director of El Museo.
Located at 1230 Fifth Avenue, between 104th and 105th Street, the renovated museum features a new glass façade, a redesigned courtyard, modernized galleries, as well as a new café/programming space and an expanded shop. The design by Gruzen Samton Architects received an award for Excellence in Design by the Art Commission of the City of New York. Central to the renovation was the need to render El Museo even more welcoming to the public and to enhance its role in the community. The new glass façade and redesigned 4,500-squarefoot courtyard will provide an inviting and attractive environment for visitors to El Museo, to Central Park, and to El Barrio, with a striking view directly on Fifth Avenue. The renovated and modernized galleries will create new space devoted to temporal exhibitions, and feature a new section dedicated to El Museo’s permanent collection, named after Mrs. Carmen Ana Unanue, who generously supports El Museo. The onsite café will provide a local gathering space as well as a flexible and intimate setting for extended programming and special events. “When completed, the renovation will herald El Museo’s full presence on Fifth Avenue and will elevate it globally as a world-class institution,” said William Singer, AIA, project manager for Gruzen Samton.
Other added features are a structural light pylon on Fifth Avenue that supports the graphics banner, a new metal canopy that wraps the courtyard, a new glass-enclosed link facilitating circulation and operation of the museum’s public spaces, and additional state of the art audio/visual, climate control, and security systems. El Museo closed its galleries last May in order for the renovation to be executed and has since conducted offsite programming. To complement the opening of its renovated facility, El Museo will also launch its new website and unveil a new visual identity that will reflect the vitality of its offerings and programs. The new visual identity is the work of Miguel Sal, executed by Elvira Moran; the website was designed by Hot Studio.
The inaugural exhibition, Nexus: New York: Latin/American Artists in the Modern Metropolis, explores the interactions between U.S.-born, Caribbean, and Latin American artists working in New York in the early twentieth century, who together fomented many of that era’s most important avant-garde art movements. Conceived by Julián Zugazagoitia, Director of El Museo and curated by Deborah Cullen, Director of Curatorial Programs, Nexus: New York is the first exhibition to explore the profound way these artistic exchanges between Latino and non-Latino artists deeply impacted art and art movements in this city and numerous countries for years to come. The exhibition is also deeply representative of El Museo’s mission to produce new scholarship on the significant yet sometimes overlooked contributions made by Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American artists.
Nexus New York will be presented with the simultaneous debut of the Carmen Ana Unanue Permanent Collection Galleries, El Museo’s first-ever galleries dedicated to its permanent holdings of more than 6,500 artworks and objects. The exhibition in the galleries, entitled Voces y Visiones: Four Decades through El Museo del Barrio’s Permanent Collection, presents one of the oldest and most important collections of twentieth-century Caribbean, Latino, and Latin American art in the U.S. The collection maintains a sustained focus on artists, groups, and schools that emerged, produced, or interacted in New York. El Museo is one of only a handful of Latino museums in the U.S. that has a permanent collection.
Following Nexus New York, El Museo will present Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement (March 21 – June 6, 2010); Retro/Active: The Works of Rafael Ferrer (June – September 2010); and Nueva York (September 17, 2010 – February 15, 2011), a collaboration with the New-York Historical Society that explores the role that Latinos and the Spanish-speaking world have played from 1624 through World War II in making New York a world cultural center, an one of the world’s Latino strongholds. In the Spring of 2011, El Museo will present El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files 2011.

Press release above appeared at http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=33416

Image above: Renderings of new El Museo del Barrio, New York, by Gruzen Samton.

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