NYC Gives $26 Million for Major Queens Museum Expansion

New York City has allocated a whopping $26.4 million for the expansion of the Queens Museum, the visual arts institution and educational center located in the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.

In November 2013, the museum finalized the first phase of its expansion, adding 50,00 square feet of galleries and making important facilities repairs. The city’s latest commitment will fund the creation of a new “Children’s Museum,” with two floors of educational classroom and workshop areas and a 5,500-square-foot Family Art Lab.

The multimillion-dollar infusion will also make possible an art conservation area, a 2,600-square-foot art storage vault, and HVAC system upgrades.

“Queens Museum is an integral part of the communities it serves, a home for amazing arts programming, education, and important civic services — relationships they used to support their neighbors throughout the pandemic,” said NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals in a statement.

Since June 2020, in response to the pandemic, it has also ran a Cultural Food Pantry in partnership with nonprofit La Jornada, distributing food items to more than 30,000 families in the hard-hit neighborhood of Corona, Queens.

“We’re thrilled to make a major investment in this exciting project, which will expand Queens Museum’s ability to connect with and serve audiences, with new space for children’s programming, storage, and energy sustainability upgrades,” he added. 

Gabo Camnitzer, Year of Uncertainty Artist-In-Residence, leads a collective drawing session with summer camp participants this July at the Queens Museum. (photo by Neil Constantine, courtesy of the Queens Museum)

The founding of a Children’s Museum is also a nod to the Queens institution’s early history. The museum was inaugurated in 1972 in the New York City Building in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, initially designed as a pavilion for the 1939 World’s Fair. Afterward, it was transformed into a borough activities center with two indoor skating rinks; the creation of a new children’s space, said Queens Museum president Sally Tallant, is inspired by the building and surrounding park’s legacy of “recreation and play.

The structure later served as the headquarters of the newly-formed UN General Assembly, where the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was established.

“As we begin to look past the economic, social and health crisis of COVID, perhaps no better investment can be made than investment in our local cultural infrastructure — to elevate spirits, support families, revitalize our economy and showcase our faith in the future of the city of New York and in New Yorkers,” Tallant told Hyperallergic.

In a statement, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been said the $26 million investment will make the Queens Museum “more accessible to everyone — including the next generation of artists and creators across the city.”

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