A selection of NYC-ARTS Greatest Hits: 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; Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel — the founder of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park — talks about FDR’s legacy and his indelible mark in history.

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♪♪

Coming up on the 'NYC-Arts,' we'd like to share with you some of our favorite segments.

This project had three big goals -- to not only provide more space to show more of a collection, but to show it differently, to create a much more welcoming institution, to make this a more comfortable place to navigate.

And then the other was to connect the museum to its place in Midtown New York.

We've had well over 600,000 people come to the Four Freedoms Park.

I've seen people weep as they look at Jo Davidson's sculpture of Franklin Roosevelt.

Funding for 'NYC-Arts' is made possible by... This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding provided by members of Thirteen.

'NYC-Arts' is made possible in part by First Republic Bank.

First Republic Bank presents 'First Things First.'

At First Republic Bank, 'first' refers to our first priority, the clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree?

Be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.

♪♪ ♪♪

Good evening, and welcome to 'NYC-Arts.'

I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.

It's been my pleasure, along with my colleague Philippe de Montebello, to bring you the very best of arts and culture in the tri-state area.

Whether it's music, dance, film, theater, the visual arts, classic or contemporary, well known or newly discovered, 'NYC-Arts' has provided unique access to the people and places that represent the richness of our arts community.

In this program, we'd like to share with you some of our favorite segments.

We hope they are some of your favorites, as well.

♪♪

Good evening, and welcome to 'NYC-Arts.'

I'm Philippe de Montebello, on location at the Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street.

This year, the museum celebrates its 90th anniversary with a visionary expansion and renovation of its campus.

The expansion by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, increases gallery space by 1/3, up to one 175,000 square feet.

But the reinstallation also provides a completely new presentation of the museum's renowned collection, showing more art in new and interdisciplinary ways.

Tonight on our program, my conversation with the museum's director, Glenn Lowry.

Lowry became the sixth director of MoMA in 1995.

During his tenure, he has led a number of initiatives that have brought MoMA's renowned collection and research to larger audiences across the world.

He guided the museum through the successful merger with PS1 Contemporary Art Center, now MoMA PS1, in 1999 and led an earlier expansion of this building in 2004.

He also developed the museum's holdings in all mediums and from around the globe, from Latin American modernists to contemporary artists.

Lowry has continued the museum's legacy of enriching public life through exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and digital tools.

He has also 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 its future.

Welcome, Glenn.

No, I shouldn't say 'Welcome.'

I'm in your galleries.

Thank you for allowing us into the brand-new Museum of Modern Art.

Or is it merely a reimagined Museum of Modern Art?

So, let me start with a broad-stroke question, which is -- what was your ultimate intention, in addition to space, in creating the whole new addition?

For us, this project had three big goals.

One was to not only provide more space to show more of 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 then the other driving force was to connect the museum really 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.

It reminds me of Gertrude Stein.

'The best thing about museum is the view from the inside out.'

[ Laughs ] It's a great line.

But in fact, Liz Diller, who drove the project for Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is just a profoundly New York-based architect.

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, I think, in a very dramatic way.

Tell us something about the building.

Well, I think one of the great things that Liz Diller and her team did for us was to both add new architecture and make these surgical incisions into the existing architecture.

And that's nowhere more visible than in our lobby, where she has opened it up, made it expansive, 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, facing out 53rd Street, with a great exhibition on energy.

Just next to that design gallery, a projects gallery that we initiated with The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Every year, they will curate an exhibition in our Projects Series, and the inaugural one, which opens our building, is of the young Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage.

All of that is free to the public.

And it's only when you go upstairs that you need a ticket.

You are, at least 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 exhibitions.

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 the 200,000 works of art in our collection represent some of the most interesting and important works of art of the 20th and early 21st century, then they should be a wellspring of possibilities for us.

Every three to six months, roughly 30% of the collection changes so that there is no sense of a fixed collection anymore, that the galleries represent some canonical view of art history, but rather there will always be surprises.

That doesn't mean that Matisse's 'Dance' or the 'Demoiselles d'Avignon' or 'Starry Night,' favorite pictures, are going to disappear, but it does mean that their neighbors are likely to change with great frequency and that maybe even, on occasion, they might move rooms so that one gets this 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 canonical movements -- pop, abstract expressionism, Fauvism.

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 art-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 the 'Demoiselles d'Avignon' surrounded by early Cubist works of art, but you can also see that great painting in a dialogue with Louise Bourgeois and Faith Ringgold across time, around issues of violence and the 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 mini retrospectives with a substantial number of works by individual artists.

And now there's much more fluidity, much more confrontation than there was before.

There was a notion of 'this artist begat 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 Cézanne to Picasso and so on.

This time around, I think what we've realized is that there were competing ideas that were taking place simultaneously with each other and that, actually, those competing ideas reverberate across the decades and even the century.

And in a way, we've tried to excavate those arguments, make them palpable again, and also to introduce some new voices, some voices that hadn't been here before, whether they're artists like Tarsila do Amaral the great Brazilian modernist, who was in Paris in the '20s, but who's literally not represented in any American institution.

There's a beautiful moment in the museum where a Rothko sits next to a Gaitonde -- Gaitonde being an Indian artist who was in New York, who knew Rothko, and who absorbed many of Rothko's ideas, but also brought his own sensibility, his own interest in a kind of Zen-like experience.

And these paintings talk to each other in utterly unexpected ways.

But they also make us aware that modernism and modern art took place all over the globe.

It wasn't just in New York or in Paris or Berlin.

And I think this iteration of the museum makes 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 first is that you have remained experimental.

When we were conceived in 1929, the idea was that the museum would be a laboratory to which the public was invited.

And this notion of a place of experimentation that engaged the public in a new art and in a new way of thinking has been integral to so much of what we've tried to do today, and that is to recapture the notion that the Museum of Modern Art is not a finished project -- it's a work in progress, intellectually, artistically, physically.

It is emotion.

Among the really fantastic new aspects of the building is a studio, the Kravis Studio, which is essentially our first performance space with acoustically tuned walls, a floor on which dance can occur, and we're opening with an incredible installation of David Tudor's 'Rainforest.'

This is a series of almost Rube Goldberg-like objects, each of which has an acoustic dimension to it.

So 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 a really important aspect of what we're trying to achieve with this iteration of the museum.

It must have been a rather delicate calibrating process for the curators who might have been upset that the sound from 'Film X' interfered with the deep silence of 'Painting Y.'

It has been a challenge to figure out how to balance all of these different forms in a way that builds rather than diminishes the experience.

And, you know, we'll keep tweaking it.

But I think the balance is pretty good, and the moment -- you know, if you walk into a room with Rauschenberg and Johns and Twombly, and you encounter Merce Cunningham and 'Dance,' and you begin to understand that these artists were working with each other and with choreographers and with dancers and that the performative dimension of their work is embedded and only fully realized when you see the kind of dialog between Merce Cunningham and Robert Rauschenberg.

There's one particular exhibit, a substantial one with over a hundred works from Latin America, and that is the Patty and Gustavo Cisneros gift of Latin American works called 'Sur Moderno,' 'The Modern South.

Tell us a little bit how that fits in to the overall mission and direction in which you want MoMA to go.

Well, the Cisneros gift expands dramatically the stories we can tell with our collection, because Patty's intense focus on geometric abstraction across Latin America, especially in the '50s, '60s, and early '70s, means that we now have the works of art that can engage Mondrian, Max Bill, and many others -- European artists that we think of as sort of huge proponents of geometric abstraction.

But they can take that idea and move it out laterally and inflect it in new and different ways.

And it's all part of an ongoing effort on our part to really understand different artistic practices across geographies.

The Pigozzi gift, which we just acquired, opens up Africa for us in ways that we've never had before, or recent acquisitions that we've made from China that let us look at that 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 museums and a great moment for the history of New York.

You should be very proud, and we're delighted that you gave us the time and that wonderful tour and insight into the new Museum of Modern Art.

Thank you, Glenn.

Thank you so much, Philippe.

And if I can say, you have been an incredible inspiration to me and to a whole generation of curators here.

So it's always a pleasure to share a moment with you.

Thank you.

♪♪ Franklin Delano Roosevelt was our 32nd president and the only one to be elected to three consecutive terms.

Many of the benefits we enjoy as Americans, we owe to FDR -- Social Security, our labor laws, and the knowledge that if a bank fails, our savings will be intact.

But what may be his greatest accomplishment was to articulate four universal human rights.

Known as the Four Freedoms, they are freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

In 2012, a park on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island was dedicated to these ideals.

We spoke with Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, the founder of the Four Freedoms Park, about FDR's legacy and his indelible mark in history.

♪♪

This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of it millions of free men and women.

♪♪

After President Roosevelt's death in 1945, there was a broad discussion by many groups about what would be an appropriate memorial to our 32nd president, who already was seen as one of our greatest.

Memorials take a long time to work out.

I remind people that the Lincoln Memorial in Washington was only dedicated in 1922, when Lincoln died in 1865, of course.

So that debate went on for a number of years.

The person who I would think should be designated as the one who was determined to make it happen was Nelson Rockefeller.

And as governor of the state, he began an urban development project on what was then called Welfare Island in the East River, right across from the United Nations.

♪♪ He had come, as president of the United States to a country where the financial system had been destroyed, where 25% unemployment.

♪♪ With no social welfare, with no Social Security.

I often think back, when he came to office, in March 1933, the banking system was demolished.

First thing he did was close the banks, declared a bank holiday.

Within 10 days, he gave his first Fireside Chat, which was his way of communicating with America.

After all, there is an element, in the readjustment of our financial system, more important than currency, more important than gold.

And that is the confidence of the people themselves.

Confidence and courage on the essentials of success in carrying out our plan.

Together, we cannot fail.

And almost overnight, people had confidence in him.

His voice communicated that, and his actions assured it.

And Roosevelt saved the capitalist system, the entrepreneurial system.

And we went on with labor, giving labor a voice through the Wagner Act and went on through the Social Security system.

He ended child labor in the United States.

The CCC -- my brother was in that -- they planted over 2 billion trees in America to stop the kind of storms that had swept through the Middle West and removed the topsoil of the country.

More than half of the infrastructure of the nation today was built in the New Deal.

World War I had been a terrible disaster for many nations and many families, and it was difficult to understand, as you look back, what that war had been fought about.

So that America in the '30s was an isolationist country.

It was quite content, even though it had major economic disasters and other things of its own to contend with, it was prepared to lead its life without being involved in the problems of Europe.

But then the war came in September 1939, and Hitler's armies proved to be the most powerful armies in the history of the world.

The Four Freedoms speech was given on January 6, 1941.

Now, that was a very critical and difficult time.

Hitler had conquered Europe.

Only Winston Churchill and the British stood against it.

And so he said to the Congress and to the people of the United States and specifically to the peoples of the world, the world that we need to create to preserve peace and social justice is a world that has to be founded on four freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression, everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way, everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, anywhere in the world.

[ Applause ] ♪♪

We've had well over 600,000 people come to the Four Freedoms Park.

I've seen people weep as they look at Jo Davidson's sculpture of Franklin Roosevelt, as it's there.

♪♪ I can't tell you how many people who have told me -- stopped me, even, to talk about it -- the spiritual dimension of the Four Freedoms Park.

♪♪ I hope that those who are the ambassadors to the United Nations and those who come to the United Nations to work every day, from the Secretary-General on down, understand their obligation to create the world that Franklin Roosevelt was talking about.

He once said, in his second inaugural, 'Don't judge me by how much I've done that helps those who have much.

Judge me by how much I've helped those who have need.'

♪♪ ♪♪

I'm Paula Zahn at the Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center.

Thanks so much for joining us.

Good night.

To enjoy more of your favorite segments on 'NYC-Arts,' visit our website at NYC-Arts.org.

Leonard, what a privilege to be able to sit down and talk with you.

I love being here with you too, Paula.

Where are we?

We're at a moment to take nothing for granted.

Well, it's a pleasure to be with Marci Reaven, the curator of this exhibition full of hope.

We are in the midst of some of the greatest sculptures by the iconic names.

Classical and modern dance are extremely different.

And I have so much more to learn before I can really articulate the differences.

And when I listened to Yip Harburg's lyrics in that, I suddenly thought, 'That's what I want to do with my life.'

My pictures reside in very intimate, very private moments.

My primary way of playing piano is by improvising.

You are, in some respects, on sacred ground.

A woman came to see me perform and said, 'How would you like to play Billie Holiday?'

I think one of the essential things that we learned is that Matisse used pens to compose his work.

You always are surprised when you're in opera and you're doing a piece that's a hundred years ago, and you think, 'Ohh, my gosh, this could be now.'

The 'Cardboard Guitar' is the very first of that moment of realization.

Suddenly, you come and present something, and you get applause.

Great. You know?

♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

Funding for 'NYC-Arts' is made possible by... This program is support in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding provided by members of Thirteen.

'NYC-Arts' is made possible in part by First Republic Bank.

First Republic Bank presents 'First Things First.'

At First Republic Bank, 'first' refers to our first priority, the clients who walk through our doors.

The first step?

Recognize that every client is an individual with unique needs.

First decree?

Be a bank whose currency is service in the form of personal banking.

This was First Republic's mission from our very first day.

It's still the first thing on our minds.