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Bronx Arts Museum Launching $25 Million Redesign

By Eddie Small | May 27, 2016 12:35pm | Updated on May 31, 2016 8:36am
 The Bronx Museum of the Arts is planning a major $25 million redesign of its building on the Grand Concourse.
The Bronx Museum of the Arts is planning a major $25 million redesign of its building on the Grand Concourse.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Wall

CONCOURSE — The Bronx Museum of the Arts is launching a $25 million campaign to redesign and upgrade its building on the Grand Concourse.

The changes, which officials plan to start this year, are meant to help the museum better serve the community and add more spaces for exhibits and public programs. The venture will be a public-private partnership with the city.

The first phase of the project will focus on redesigning the building's South Wing Atrium and be spearheaded by Monica Ponce de Leon, who serves as the dean of Princeton University's architecture school and in 2007 became the first Hispanic architect to receive the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture.

Museum Director Holly Block said in a statement that redesigning the building was a response to the growing popularity of its programs and community initiatives.

"The project will enable us to better serve our growing audience, and better integrate our facility into its home on the Grand Concourse, enlivening our presence on the street and in the community," she said.

Admission to the Bronx Museum of the Arts at 1040 Grand Concourse is free, and officials say attendance has more than quadrupled in six years.

The establishment recently added a cafe, displayed an exhibit of work by the artist Martin Wong and put together the first collaboration between an American museum and Cuba in 50 years.

Museum officials estimate that construction of the project will cost $15 million and that they will need an additional $10 million to support more education and public programs.

The Mayor's Office, the City Council, the Bronx Borough President's Office and Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner have appropriated a total of roughly $7.2 million for the first phase of the project, and the museum is working to raise more in private funds.

Work on the design of the building's South Wing Atrium should begin this year and finish in 2020, and the museum plans on staying open throughout the project.

Officials describe the museum's current Atrium as opaque and underused, and they plan on turning it into a transparent and energy-efficient "Gallery Cube" that will host year-round educational, public and community programs.

Later phases of the project will aim to transform vacant lots into sculpture gardens, improve public flow throughout the building, and create a new space for events and performances.

“The Bronx Museum of the Arts contributes greatly to the fabric of the Bronx, enriching the lives of youth, families, and residents of this great borough and city,” Laura Blanco, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said in a statement.

“With this project, the museum is increasing its commitment to our community, enhancing our spaces so we can provide even more thought-provoking exhibitions and education programs and welcome our growing and diverse audience."