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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
NY suburb greets slimmed-down Moma
Van Gogh's Starry Night
Van Gogh's The Starry Night is in the collection

Moving Manhattan's famous Museum of Modern Art (Moma) to suburban Queens has forced director Glenn Lowry to put only Moma's "greatest hits" on display.

There just wasn't room for the entire collection, which has been moved to the suburbs while Moma's Manhattan building shuts its doors for a massive renovation project.

The new Moma, a former staple factory, only holds 800 people at one time, unlike the Manhattan gallery, which held upward of 3,000.


I think it will attract a more sophisticated kind of people to that part of Queens and it will help the revitalisation of that part of the city

Local resident Andrew Gerstein

The Queens gallery is like a condensed history of 20th-century art: Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon hangs next to Matisse's The Dance, while in the next-door gallery Van Gogh sits alongside Cezanne.

And there are contemporary masters too: Chuck Close, Chris Ofili and a video piece from Bruce Nauman, continuing the story of art through the century

Mr Lowry says the new Moma will have its own appeal.

"One explodes into The Dance by Matisse, and into the Pollocks, and de Kooning and Mondrian. It is a really powerful surge of great art.

"And it's a thing which would have been impossible to do in the Manhattan space, which is why I think people will come out and have a look," he said.

Fewer visitors

The gallery has spent $1m persuading people to come to the new site, yet art aficionados in Manhattan seemed doubtful whether they would be regular guests on the train trip over.

Moma estimates attendance figures would drop from 3,000 a day to only 1,000, but says it has budgeted for this.

However, in the mainly blue-collar area of Queens, locals welcomed the new gallery.

Real estate agent Andrew Gerstein said he would certainly visit.

Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon
Condensed art history: works by Picasso hang next to art by Matisse

"I happen to know exactly where it's being relocated. It happens to be a very up-and-coming area with people leaving Manhattan and moving to that part of Queens.

"I think it will attract a more sophisticated kind of people to that part of Queens and it will help the revitalisation of that part of the city. It's only a few stops from midtown Manhattan. I will go there."

The gallery will be open for three years in Queens, after which it will return to an extended and rebuilt Manhattan site.

Moma says then the Queens project will become a store room for art, but it is deliberately not promising anything. If it takes off, Queens could perhaps become a permanent satellite.

Moma at Queens opens this weekend with two days of free admission and a host of exciting events in New York, including a special fireworks spectacular over the city.

See also:

27 Jun 02 | Entertainment
17 Jan 02 | Entertainment
15 Aug 01 | Entertainment
12 Oct 01 | Entertainment
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