N.Y.U.’s Grey Art Gallery Gets a New Name and Space

Who knew New York University even had a devoted artwork museum?

Probably not the tens of hundreds of holiday makers who’ve made their solution to exhibitions on the Grey Art Gallery, tucked away for almost half a century within the college’s arts and science heart on Washington Square. But the Grey has been the guardian of the college’s trove of artwork treasures, although that wasn’t apparent by its identify.

That is about to vary. Grey Art Gallery is transferring a number of blocks east to a bigger, extra distinguished house at 18 Cooper Square. It will reopen subsequent yr on March 2 because the Grey Art Museum to raised mirror its historical past and mission, with the inaugural present “Americans in Paris: Artists Working in Postwar France, 1946-1962.”

“We’ll be much more visible,” mentioned Lynn Gumpert, its director since 1997. With an illustrious accumulating and exhibition observe file — in 1983, it was the primary U.S. establishment to host a main present of Frida Kahlo — the Grey nonetheless has typically been confused for a business gallery. “We’re known nationally and internationally among the art crowd, but still lots of people in New York don’t know that N.Y.U. has a museum,” Gumpert mentioned.

A rendering of the brand new museum’s inside, which will likely be in a bigger and extra distinguished house than the present gallery.Credit…by way of Ennead Architects

Moving to the busy crossroads of NoHo, the East Village and the Bowery on Cooper Square, the Grey could have higher road presence in an expansive ground-floor house of a 1901 brick-and-iron landmark constructing owned by N.Y.U. The new house will increase the scale of Grey’s exhibition galleries by 40 p.c and offers the museum a research heart for the primary time. It has been designed by Ennead Architects’ companion Richard Olcott — who beforehand led the renovation of the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven.

The venture was jump-started by a bequest and a promised present of 200 artworks from the collectors and social activists James Cottrell, a doctor, and Joseph Lovett, a documentary filmmaker. Longtime residents of Lower Manhattan who’ve supported the native scene and the LGBTQ+ neighborhood for many years, the couple got here to Gumpert searching for a future residence for his or her assortment.

“One of our great areas of concentration is downtown art,” Gumpert mentioned of the Grey’s assortment, with greater than 6,000 works which have generated reveals equivalent to “Art After Stonewall, 1969- 1989” in 2019, and “Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965” in 2017. “We’ve really tried to position the Grey as a bridge to the community.” She plans to focus on works from Cottrell and Lovett’s present when the museum opens.

Established in 1975 with a main present by Abby Weed Grey of some 1,000 works of recent Iranian, Indian and Turkish artwork, the Grey then grew to become steward of the N.Y.U. artwork assortment, begun in 1958, that included items by main figures like Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia, Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Rauschenberg.

A small fish is the large pond of New York City museums, the Grey has been profitable in doing reveals “that are scholarly but also accessible,” mentioned Gumpert, who additionally serves as curator and sometimes originates one present and takes two touring exhibitions from different museums yearly. The Grey is free, with an annual working price range of about $1.5 million, , a small endowment and fund-raising round particular exhibitions. “We don’t need money from the gate,” Gumpert mentioned, permitting extra freedom for experimentation.

The Whitney Museum’s director, Adam Weinberg, mentioned the Grey’s deep dedication to downtown set the establishment other than others within the metropolis. “They’re able to do some of the more focused shows that we don’t have a chance to do,” he mentioned, pointing to exhibitions on key downtown artists like Peter Hujar and Tseng Kwong Chi, who each died of AIDS.

The Grey’s upcoming present “Americans in Paris,” curated by Gumpert and the unbiased scholar Debra Bricker Balken, delves into the phenomenon of artists flowing from the United States into the French capital after World War II — many on the G.I. Bill — with greater than 130 works by 70 artists, Herbert Gentry, Ellsworth Kelly, Jack Youngerman and Kenneth Noland.

In its new quarters, Gumpert hopes to extend from about 15,000 guests yearly pre-Covid to “around 60,000,” she mentioned. The new research heart, which will likely be open to college students, college and researchers by appointment, is a step towards that ambition.

“It’s making the collections more accessible,” Gumpert mentioned. “To me, that’s the raison d’être of the university art museum.”

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