A report by Colin Moynihan for the New York Times.
El Museo del Barrio, the country’s oldest museum devoted to Latino art, announced on Tuesday that it will close its exhibition galleries and theater for several months as part of a planned renovation.
The galleries will close starting Monday, Nov. 6, and reopen in the summer of 2018, the museum said. Its theater, El Teatro, will be closed until the fall of 2018. El Museo has scheduled two off-site exhibitions during the renovations.
“We are confident that the planned renovations and upgrades will enable El Museo del Barrio to provide visitors an improved experience and ultimately address its structural needs as a growing museum,” Patrick Charpenel, the executive director, said. “As a part of a city-owned building, these proposed upgrades have been in the pipeline for some time, and we are excited for the expanded opportunities in exhibition and rentals that these improvements will bring.”
The museum was started in a public school classroom in 1969 by artists and activists who wanted to emphasize Puerto Rican cultural contributions. But the museum’s mission has expanded since then, and its collection now includes a wide range of art from the Caribbean and the Americas. Since 1978 it has occupied more than 6,500 square feet inside a building at Fifth Avenue between 104th and 105th Street.
The organization has faced difficulties recently even as it has mounted well-received exhibitions. Financial problems have forced staff cuts, and the museum went from being open six days a week to five. Since 2010, El Museo has cycled through three directors as well as other senior executives.
The closings are one of the first major decisions announced since Mr. Charpenel, a curator from Mexico, took over in September.
Renovations to galleries will include upgraded heating and air-conditioning systems and a new glass entryway. A new mechanized lift for the 564-seat theater’s orchestra pit will be put in along with updated lighting equipment, and hand-painted murals there will be cleaned and restored.
In January and February 2018, El Museo will showcase work by Latino graduates of the master of fine arts program of the School of Visual Arts in an exhibition at the SVA Chelsea Gallery. The second off-site show, scheduled to run from April to June at the Longwood Arts Project, Hostos Community College in the Bronx, will explore the pattern and decoration movement.