Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled plans Feb. 8 for the museum's new site where construction is set to begin in summer 2007 and be completed by late 2009. The museum will feature 85,000-square-feet on the ground level of a 116-unit residential tower and include exhibition galleries, an education center, a theater, conservation facilities, a cafe and a gift shop, the mayor said.Executive Director Elsie McCabe said the museum has sought a permanent place to call home since it opened in 1984."Like many African peoples, the Museum for African Art has been nomadic during its 22-year history," she said. "During this time we have always seen ourselves as an institution that built bridges between cultures and people."The total cost of the project, including the tower and the museum, is estimated at $80 million, including $12 million committed by the city, a spokeswoman for the city Department of Cultural Affairs said. An additional $50 million has been raised for the site through public and private donations, she said.McCabe said the new site will provide sufficient space for classic and contemporary African art as well as a new gallery where changing installations of sculpture from the museum's permanent collections will be displayed.The museum relocated to 36-01 43rd Ave. in Long Island City in 2002 and began planning to move back to Manhattan in 2004. The museum, which has always relied on rented space, will be the second to move from Long Island City to Manhattan in recent years. MOMA, which relocated to the Swingline stapler factory in July 2002 while its Manhattan building was renovated and expanded, moved out of the borough in fall 2004.McCabe said the museum will no longer host exhibitions at its Queens site, but will organize exhibits at various sites in Manhattan or around the country. The museum store will remain open in Long Island City until 2009, she said.Bloomberg said the museum's relocation will create a "gateway to Harlem.""I can't think of a better time to have this announcement than now - at the beginning of Black History Month," the mayor said. "For more than 20 years (the museum) has developed enriching educational programs and exhibitions throughout the city, providing a window into African art and culture which has a profound impact on New York City."Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@times
©2007 Community News Group
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