MoMA to Preserve Folk Art’s Bronze Facade and Stop There

A brave curatorial decision or damage control? See how architects and critics are reacting to the news.

After months of bad press, MoMA has decided to save the Folk Art Museum, or at least pieces of it. According to the New York Times, MoMA will preserve the facade of the Tod Williams and Billie Tsien-designed building. Each of the facade’s sixty-three copper-bronze alloy panels will be stored away, MoMA director Glen Lowry told the Times. But, as Lowry made clear, the museum has no current plans to display or reconstruct the fragments. “We have made no decision about what happens subsequently, other than the fact that we’ll have it and it will be preserved.”

Elizabeth Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who are designing the MoMA extension that will take Folk Art’s place, dismissed the idea of re-assembling the fragments in situ as a large-scale sculpture (or ruin, depending how you look at it). “We think of buildings synthetically. Facades and buildings and their organization, their logic, are tied entirely together,” the architect said in an interview with the Times. The sentiment runs counter to MoMA’s conciliatory gesture, which amounts to damage control of sorts. Up until now, the museum has been downright blasé about its intention on demolishing “one of the first significant works of 21st-century architecture in New York.”

For several months now, the FolkMoMA tumblr has been collecting creative, if implausible, proposals for how the Folk Art Museum could be saved. The project, curated by Ana Maria Leon and Quilian Riano, aims to spark a dialogue—at times lighthearted and polemical—about preservation and the work of architecture in the new millennium. In light of MoMA’s latest decision, recent submissions have imagined the building’s facade erected in the Guggenheim rotunda and rubbing shoulders with the Temple of Dendur at the MET. Below, see how twitter is reacting to MoMA’s decision.

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