MAD or the Museum of Arts and Design is opening this weekend and it’s a marvel of appropriate and beautiful design. Mayor Mike is presiding over the opening ceremony as I write this.
What I like most about the new museum on Columbus Circle is that it is designed around the most important thing about a museum—the collection. And for MAD that means contemporary jewelry, glass, ceramic, glass, wood and mixed media. Most of this collection is not hung on walls—but in showcases and on the floor. Visitors look down or straight at the art at eye level.
Which is why Portland-based Allied Works did such a great job with the light and space. Cuts in the walls of the old “Lollipop” building let in just the right amount of light to illuminate the art for people looking at it. They also offer views that connect you directly to Central Park, the circle itself and a long perspective going off into the horizon that is Central Park West. Kudos to Brad Cloepfil, Allied’s founder for this triumph.
The gallery spaces are much larger than the new New Museum on the Bowery (in fact, MAD is much better designed in nearly all ways than the New Museum). And there is a wonderful stairway on the ground floor that soars into the floor above, opening up the space. And there will be a restaurant near the top with incredible views.
Holly Hotchner, MAD’s director, deserves tons of credit for making it all happen—raising the millions of bucks, choosing Allied, battling the backward-looking Landmarks Preservation people and keeping the focus on what’s important—the art, the artists and the people who appreciate them and want to see them. Holly is a hero. She moved MAD into the future.
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