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In financial crisis, the Met delays $600 M contemporary wing expansion


Robin Pogrebin reports for the New York Times that the Met will delay their anticipated modern and contemporary wing extension, estimated at $600 million. This decision comes as a result of a budget crisis that resulted in the buyouts and layoffs of a substantial number of Met employees over the last year. The Met currently leases the Whitney’s Breuer building to house their contemporary exhibitions, and Pogrebin reports that costs only $17 million a year to operate. Read Pogrebin in partial below, in full via New York Times.

It looks like the Metropolitan Museum of Art won’t be celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020 with a new wing after all.

The Met on Wednesday morning informed its staff that it will push back plans for a $600 million southwest wing dedicated to Modern and contemporary art as it takes new measures to get its financial house in order.

The Met had hoped to complete construction of an extension to the Fifth Avenue building while it was still leasing the former Whitney Museum — now called the Met Breuer — on Madison Avenue. But the Met may not break ground on the new wing for as many as seven years, said Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief operating officer.

Instead, the Met will concentrate on replacing the skylights and roofing system above the European paintings galleries, work that won’t start until 2018 and is expected to last about four years.

“It’s logical that that’s the urgent project we pursue first,” said Thomas P. Campbell, the director of the Met, saying the museum was “baking these long-term projects into a responsible master plan that matches our capacity with our ambition.”

Asked whether the wing’s delay was the result of an inability to come up with a major lead gift, Mr. Campbell said: “We’re very confident about raising funds for this project when the time comes.”

He declined to give a specific start date for work on the new wing, though he said there “could be some overlap” with the skylights project. Mr. Campbell also said the Met had not made any decision regarding its eight-year lease of the Breuer building, which costs the museum $17 million a year to run.

“We’re very pleased with the success of the first year,” Mr. Campbell said.

In the face of deficits, the Met has been working over the last several months to shave $31 million from its operating budget through voluntary buyouts and layoffs, and to increase revenue from its retail stores.

**Image of the Met via