Philippe de Montebello in conversation with Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, about the visionary expansion and renovation of its campus.

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> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO NYC ARTS.

I'M PETER DI MONTEBELLO.

THIS WEEK THE MUSEUM CELEBRATES ITS 90th ANNIVERSARY WITH THE EXPANSION AND RENOVATION OF ITS CAMPUS.

THE EXPANSION BY ARCHITECT AND A VIDEO RENTRO IN COLLABORATION INCREASES GALLERY SPACE BY ONE-THIRD AND UP TO 175,000 SQUARE FEET, BUT THE RE-INSTALLATION ALSO PROVIDES A COMPLETELY NEW PRESENTATION OF THE MUSEUM'S COLLECTION SHOWING MORE ART IN NEW AND INTERDISCIPLINARY WAYS.

TONIGHT ON OUR PROGRAM, MY CONVERSATION WITH THE MUSEUM'S DIRECTOR GLEN LOWERY.

LOWERY IS THE SIXTH DIRECTOR IN 1995.

DURING HIS TENURE HE HAS LED A NUMBER OF INITIATIVES THAT HAS BROUGHT THE RENOWNED COLLECTION AND RESEARCH TO LARGER AUDIENCES ACROSS THE WORLD.

HE GUIDED THE MUSEUM THROUGH THE SUCCESSFUL MERGER WITH PS-1 CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER IN 1999 AND LED AN EARLIER EXPANSION OF THIS BUILDING IN 2004.

HE ALSO HAS THE MUSEUM'S HOLDINGS IN ALL MEDIUMS AND AROUND THE GLOBE FROM LATIN AMERICAN MODERNISTS TO CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS.

HE HAS CONTINUED THE MUSEUM'S LEGACY OF ENRICHING THE LIFE OF PUBLICATIONS AND DIGITAL TOOLS.

HE HAS CHALLENGED CONVENTIONAL IDEAS ABOUT MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AND DESIGN.

I RECENTLY HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK WITH HIM ABOUT THE MUSEUM'S TRANSFORMATION AND HIS FUTURE.

WELCOME.

I SHOULDN'T SAY WELCOME.

THEY'RE YOUR GALLERIES.

THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING US INTO THE BRAND-NEW MUSEUM OF MODERN ART OR IS IT MERELY A RE-IMAGINED MUSEUM OF MODERN ART?

LET ME START WITH A BROAD STROKE QUESTION WHICH IS WHAT WAS YOUR ULTIMATE INTENTION IN ADDITION TO SPACE IN CREATING THE ALL-NEW EDITION.

ONE WAS TO NOT ONLY PROVIDE MORE SPACE TO SHOW THE COLLECTION, BUT TO SHOW IT DIFFERENTLY.

THE OTHER WAS TO CREATE A MUCH MORE WELCOMING INSTITUTION, TO MAKE THIS A MORE COMFORTABLE PLACE TO NAVIGATE AND IN THE OTHER DRIVING FORCE WAS TO CONNECT THE MUSEUM AND SUBSTANTIALLY TO ITS PLACE IN MIDTOWN NEW YORK TO OPEN IT UP TO THE ENERGY OF THE CITY.

IT DOES SO, ACTUALLY, IN A WONDERFULLY PHYSICAL WAY BECAUSE ALL ALONG THE TRAJECTORY PERIODICALLY ONE SEES NEW YORK CITY REMINDS ME OF GERTRUDE STEIN AND THE BEST THING ABOUT THE MUSEUM IS THE VIEW FROM THE INSIDE OUT.

IT'S A GREAT LINE, BUT, IN FACT, LIZ DILLER WHO DROVE THE PROJECT FOR DILLER IS JUST A PROFOUNDLY NEW YORK-BASED ARCHITECT AND SHE GETS THE CITY AND SO EVERY TIME I WALK THROUGH THE GALLERIES AND I GET A GLIMPSE OF THE SKYSCRAPERS THAT DOMINATE MIDTOWN OR THE RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS TO OUR NORTH, I FEEL CONNECTED AND THAT MAKES THE ART COME ALIVE IN A VERY DRAMATIC WAY.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THE BUILDING.

ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS THAT US WAS TO BOTH ADD NEW ARCHITECTURE AND MAKE THE SURGICAL INCISIONS INTO THE EXISTING ARCHITECTURE AND THAT'S NOWHERE MORE VISIBLE THAN IN OUR LOBBY WHERE SHE HAS OPENED IT UP AND MADE IT EXPANSIVE AND MADE IT ALMOST INTUITIVE TO MOVE THROUGH.

YOU HAVE A SENSE OF WHERE TO GET YOUR TICKETING.

YOU HAVE A SENSE OF WHERE TO SIT AND WAIT FOR A FRIEND AND THE ENTIRE GROUND FLOOR OF THE MUSEUM HAS BECOME FREE TO THE PUBLIC SO YOU CAN WALK INTO THE MUSEUM AS IF IT WERE A CONTINUATION OF THE STREET AND ENJOY THE GARDEN OR GO TO THE STORE OR GO EVEN TO TWO OF OUR GALLERIES.

WE'VE GOT A BEAUTIFUL NEW DESIGN GALLERY FOR CONTEMPORARY DESIGN ON THE GROUND FLOOR PHASING OUT 53rd STREET WITH ENERGY AND JUST NEXT TO THAT DESIGN GALLERY, A PROJECTS GALLERY THAT WE INITIATED WITH A STUDIO MUSEUM IN HARLEM AND EVERY YEAR THEY WILL CURE EIGHT AN EXHIBITION IN THE PROJECT SERIES AND THE INAUGURAL ONE WHICH OPENS THE BUILDING IS OF A YOUNG KENYAN-BORN ARTIST, MICHAEL ARMITAGE.

AND IT IS ONLY WHEN YOU GO UPSTAIRS THAT YOU NEED A TICKET.

YOU ARE INITIALLY FOR THE FIRST FEW MONTHS TREATING THE PERMANENT COLLECTION AS THE QUARRY IN WHICH ONE WOULD FIND BOTH THE PERMANENT COLLECTION AND THE SPECIAL EXHIBITION.

IF I'M NOT MISTAKEN, ALL OF THE WORKS ON VIEW ARE NOW OF YOUR PERMANENT COLLECTION?

VIRTUALLY EVERYTHING.

WE THOUGHT, OKAY, WHY NOT TREAT OUR PERMANENT COLLECTION WITH THE SAME ENERGY AND COMMITMENT THAT WE TREAT OUR TEMPORARY EXHIBITION PROGRAM AND IF WE BELIEVE AS WE DO THAT 200,000 WORKS OF ART IN ART COLLECTION REPRESENT SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT WORKS OF ART OF THE EARLY 20th AND 21st CENTURY THEN THEY SHOULD BE A WELLSPRING OF POSSIBILITIES FOR US.

EVERY THREE TO SIX MONTHS, ROUGHLY 3% OF THE COLLECTION CHANGES SO THERE IS NO SENSE OF A FIXED COLLECTION ANYMORE.

THE GALLERIES REPRESENT SOME VIEW OF OUR HISTORY AND THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SURPRISES.

THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT MATISSE'S DANCE AND STARRY NIGHT AND IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT THE NEIGHBORS WILL LIKELY CHANGE WITH FREQUENCY AND ON OCCASION THEY MIGHT MOVE ROOMS SO THAT ONE GETS THE SENSE OF RENEWED ENERGY THAT COMES WHEN YOU SIMPLY DISPLACE A WORK OF ART FROM ONE LOCATION TO ANOTHER.

I DON'T SEE THE NAMES OF WHAT WERE THE ECONOMICAL MOVEMENTS?

THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM.

IS THIS A REPUDIATION OF TRADITIONAL ART HISTORY OR SOMETHING ELSE?

IT'S NOT NECESSARILY A REPUDIATION OF ART HISTORY BECAUSE THIS IS, I THINK, A DEEPLY HISTORICAL PROJECT, BUT IT IS MOVING BEYOND THE VERY NARROW DEFINITIONS THAT HAVE BEEN GIVEN TO CERTAIN MOMENTS TO ASK A DIFFERENT SET OF QUESTIONS.

INDEED, YOU CAN FIND THAT IT WAS SURROUNDED BY EARLY WORKS OF ART AND YOU CAN ALSO SEE THAT GREAT PAINTING IN A DIALOGUE WITH FAITH RINGO ACROSS TIME AROUND ISSUES OF VIOLENCE AND IMPACT OF AFRICA AND AFRICAN ART ON SENSIBILITIES.

SO THAT IT'S MORE THAN JUST CUBISM THAT'S AT PLAY IN A ROOM LIKE THAT AND THAT'S OUR GOAL TO EXPAND THE CONVERSATION.

THE PREVIOUS MUSEUM WAS A SERIES OF MANY RETROSPECTIVES WITH SUBSTANTIAL NUMBER OF WORKS BY INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS AND NOW THERE'S A MUCH MORE FLUIDITY AND MUCH MORE CONFRONTATION THAN THERE WAS BEFORE.

THERE WAS THE NOTION OF THIS ARTIST BEGETS THAT ARTIST, THAT THERE WAS A KIND OF MARCH OF TIME THAT YOU COULD CHART THE COURSE OF ART HISTORY WITH A CERTAIN CLARITY AND IT WAS ALMOST LIKE A BATON PASSING FROM CEZANNE TO PICASSO AND SO ON.

THIS TIME AROUND I THINK WHAT WE'VE REALIZE SIDE THAT THERE WERE COMPETING IDEAS THAT WERE TAKING PRICE SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH EVEN OTHER AND THAT ACTUALLY THOSE COMPETING IDEAS WOULD REVERBERATE TO DECADES AND EVEN THE CENTURY IN A WAY WE TRIED TO EXCAVATE THOSE ARGUMENTS AND MAKE THEM PALPABLE AGAIN AND INTRODUCE NEW VOICES AND VOICES THAT HADN'T BEEN HERE BEFORE AND WHETHER THEY WERE ARTISTS LIKE THE GREAT BRAZILIAN MODERNIST WHO WAS IN PARIS IN THE '20s, BUT WHO WAS LITERALLY NOT REPRESENTED IN ANY AMERICAN INSTITUTION.

THERE'S A BEAUTIFUL MOMENT IN THE MUSEUM WHERE ROSCOE SITS NEXT TO AN INDIAN ARTIST WHO WAS IN NEW YORK WHO KNEW ROSCOE AND WHO ABSORBED MANY OF ROSCOE'S IDEAS, BUT ALSO BROUGHT HIS OWN SENSIBILITIES AND HIS OWN ZEN-LIKE EXPERIENCE.

THEY TALKED TO EACH OTHER IN UTTERLY UNEXPECTED WAYS, BUT THEY ALSO MAKE US AWARE THAT MODERNISM AND MODERN ART TOOK PLACE IN THE GOLDEN GLOBE AND IT WASN'T JUST IN PARIS OR BERLIN AND THE ITERATION OF THE MUSEUM MAKES IT PALPABLE THE DEGREE TO WHICH THERE IS AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE THAT WE HAVE TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN WE THINK ABOUT ART.

GOING THROUGH THE GALLERIES AS I DID, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STRUCK ME IS THAT YOU HAVE REMAINED EXPERIMENTAL.

WHEN WE WERE CONCEIVED IN 1929 THE IDEA WAS THAT THE MUSEUM WAS A LABORATORY TO WHICH THE PUBLIC WAS INVITED AND THIS EXPERIMENTATION THAT ENGAGED THE PUBLIC IN A NEW ART AND IN A NEW WAY OF THINKING THAT WAS ENTANGLED TO SO MUCH OF WHAT WE TRIED TO DO TODAY AND THAT WAS TO RECAPTURE THE NOTION AND THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART IS NOT A FINISHED PROJECT AND IT'S A WORK IN PROGRESS INTELLECTUALLY, ARTISTICALLY AND PHYSICALLY.

IT IS IN MOTION.

AMONG THE REALLY FANTASTIC NEW ASPECTS OF THE BUILDING IS THE STUDIO.

THE STUDIO WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY OUR FIRST PERFORMANCE SPACE WITH ACOUSTICALLY TUNED WALLS AND THE FLOOR IN WHICH DANCE CAN OCCUR AND WE'RE OPENING WITH AN INCREDIBLE INSTALLATION OF DAVID TUDOR'S RAIN FOREST.

THIS IS A SERIES OF ALMOST GOBERT LIKE OBJECTS AND YOU BECOME AWARE OF THE FACT THAT SOUND CAN BE A FORM OF ART JUST AS MUCH AS PAINTING OR SCULPTING CAN BE, AND FOR US, PERFORMANCE AND THE PERFORMATIVE IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS ITERATION OF A MUSEUM.

IT MUST HAVE BEEN A RATHER DELICATE CALIBRATING PROCESS FOR THE CURATORS WHO MIGHT HAVE BEEN UPSET THAT THE SOUND FROM X INTERFERED WITH THE DEEP SILENCE OF PAINTING Y?

IT HASN'T BEEN A CHALLENGE TO BALANCE THESE DIFFERENT FORMS IN A WAY THAT IT DIMINISHES THE EXPERIENCE.

WE'LL KEEP TWEAKING IT, BUT I THINK THE BALANCE IS PRETTY GOOD AND THE MOMENT THAT YOU WALK INTO A ROOM WITH RAUSCHENBERG AND JOHNS AND YOU ENCOUNTER CUNNINGHAM AND DANCE AND YOU BEGIN TO UNDERSTAND THAT THESE ARTISTS WERE WORKING WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH CHOREOGRAPHERS AND DANCERS AND THE DIMENSION OF THEIR WORK IS EMBEDDED AND ONLY FULLY REALIZE WHEN YOU SEE THE KIND OF DIALOGUE BETWEEN NURSE CUNNINGHAM AND ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG.

THERE'S ONE PARTICULAR EXHIBIT, A SUBSTANTIAL ONE WITH OVER 100 WORKS FROM LATIN AMERICA, AND THAT IS THE CISNEROS' GIFT OF LATIN AMERICAN WORKS CALLED SUR MODERNO, MODERN SOUTH.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THAT WORKS INTO THE OVERALL MISSION AND DIRECTION IN WHICH WE WANT IT TO GO?

CISNEROS' GIFT SAPS DRAMATICALLY THE STORIES WE TELL WITH OUR DIRECTION BECAUSE THE INTENSE FOCUS ON GEOMETRIC EXTRANGZ ACROSS LATIN AMERICA IN THE '50s, '60s AND EARLY '70s MEANS THAT WE HAVE THE WORKS OF ART THAT CAN ENGAGE WITH MANY OTHERS AND EUROPEAN ARTISTS THAT WE THINK OF AS HUGE PROPONENTS OF GEOMETRIC EXTRACTION AND THEY CAN TAKE THAT IDEA AND MOVE IT OUT LET RALLY AND INFLECT IT IN NEW AND DIFFERENT WAYS AND IT IS ALL PART OF AN ONGOING EFFORT ON OUR PART TO REALLY UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT ARTISTIC PRACTICES ACROSS GEOGRAPHIES.

THE GIFT WHICH WE JUST ACQUIRED OPENED UP AFRICA FOR US IN WAYS THAT WE NEVER HAD BEFORE OR RECENT ACQUISITIONS THAT WE MADE FROM CHINA THAT LET US LOOK AT THIS POST-1989 MOMENT WHEN THE ARTS IN CHINA TOOK OFF.

SO THE ABILITY TO HAVE THESE DIFFERENT STORIES DEVELOP ON THEIR OWN AND IN RELATIONSHIP TO EACH OTHER IS WHAT I THINK, MARKS THIS MOMENT FOR US IN A REALLY INTERESTING WAY.

THAT'S A GREAT MOMENT FOR THE HISTORY OF THE MUSEUM AND A GREAT MOMENT FOR THE HISTORY OF NEW YORK.

YOU SHOULD BE VERY PROUD AND WE ARE DELIGHTED THAT YOU GAVE US THE TIME AND THE WONDERFUL TOUR AND INSIGHT INTO THE NEW MUSEUM OF MODERN ART.

THANK YOU AGAIN.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, AND IF I CAN SAY, YOU HAVE BEEN AN INCREDIBLE INSPIRATION TO ME AND TO A WHOLE GENERATION OF CURATORS HERE.

SO IT IS ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO SHARE A MOMENT WITH YOU.

THANK YOU.

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