BUILD Blog


Open Letter to MOMA
September 25, 2008, 9:56 am
Filed under: Letters

Dear MOMA,

We are members, supporters and regulars of your extraordinary museum.  We link to you on our websites, name-drop you at social gatherings, sip overpriced drinks in your lounge, and think the eight-hundred-and-fifty-eight million dollar remodel was worth every penny.  You are the foremost museum of modern art in the world and we will continue to spend our hard earned money to enter through that sleek white atrium and proceed up the stairs to modern enlightenment.

With that said – enough already with the Rem Koolhaas-athon.  Don’t get us wrong – he’s great; we admire what he and his firm OMA have achieved, we’re inspired by who he is and what he does.  We’ve read Delirious New York, have his edition of El Croquis displayed prominently on our bookshelf and have made the pilgrimage to many of his built works.  It’s just that every time we tour MOMA there’s a shrine to Rem Koolhaas.  We’re never quite sure where it’s going to be, but when we’re least expecting it – there it is, another homage to Rem.  Sometimes it’s a collection of polyurethane resin architectural models; sometimes cartoon imagery of skyscrapers sleeping together; other times its glossy photos of soon to be completed high-rises in far off lands.  Whether prominently featured in the center of the room or flanking the walls, there always seems to be a Koolhaas shrine at MOMA.

So what’s the big deal, you ask?  Why get your Calvin Klein’s in a knot over one of society’s greatest architects and thinkers being on display all the time… forever?  I mean really, what’s so bad about a bottomless cup of Koolhaas?

It’s that he’s already made it.  He’s so far beyond being discovered, discussed, and praised that he sneaks out of his own lectures to avoid post lecture Q & A.  His books sell like West-Village cupcakes; he’s printing his own money at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; and he’s turning down major design competition invitations because he’s got too many built works in process.  He’s a pretty big deal.

Meanwhile, armies of talented, young architects go unnoticed and undiscovered.   The museum space ceaselessly dedicated to Rem Koolhaas could be shedding light on dozens of ambitious, forward-thinking architects.  These architects are going to be the future and it seems like MOMA should be on the cutting edge with them.  It seems like they should get better wall space.  The current Young Architects Program 2008, which introduces the 5 finalists in the P.S.1 courtyard design competition, is relegated to a hallway.  It’s not even a hallway that connects any exhibits; it doesn’t even lead to the bathrooms.  These are important architects and the only attention they are getting at MOMA is from confused museum goers hoping that the bathrooms are down here…

Sincerely,
Your loyal fans at BUILD llc

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1 Comment so far
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The can hissed when you applied the opener but it wasn’t the reassuring sound of freshness. Opening a dialog about Koolhaas reveals a number of issues regarding MOMA. Gorgeous building, odd assortment of genres. The lay-out is confusing and there seems a lack of thoughtfulness regarding one’s journey through the galleries. I did have the best duck confit ever though. Maybe they’ll put it all together when the expansion is completed. Meanwhile the best venue in Manhattan for modern art is probably the Met. I find that odd.

Comment by Les Fitzpatrick




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