The Met

$600 million Chipperfield expansion for Metropolitan Museum of Art put on hold

Architecture East Newsletter
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's 5th Avenue entrance (Courtesy Shinya Suzuki/Flickr)

Slightly more than a year after British architect David Chipperfield was selected to redesign portions of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the project has been put on hold.

Museum officials disclosed last month that they plan to temporarily suspend design work on the $600 million expansion project as part of an institution-wide effort to restructure finances and address a $10 million deficit. They said the restructuring would be a two year process and that a time frame for resuming design work on the expansion would depend on the pace of fundraising for it.

The Chipperfield project will “be quiet for a while,” The New York Times quoted museum president Daniel Weiss as saying. “The pace of the project is slowing,” Weiss said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Met’s disclosure came in the same week that Museum of Modern Art officials announced a $100 million gift from entertainment mogul David Geffen to help fund their expansion, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Three floors of the museum’s new galleries will be named The David Geffen Wing in recognition of the donation, museum officials said.

In March of 2015, officials at the Met announced that the museum selected David Chipperfield Architects to design an expansion, which most likely would involve demolition of the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing in the museum’s southwest corner, to increase exhibition space for modern and contemporary art and to double the size of the Roof Garden above the Wallace Wing.


David Chipperfield (Courtesy Bruno Cordioli/link Flickr)

David Chipperfield (Courtesy Bruno Cordioli/Flickr)

At the time, Met officials indicated Chipperfield also might become involved in redesigning other areas of the museum, including “adjacent galleries devoted to the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, as well as additional operational spaces.” In effect, he was being tapped to take on the design role at the museum that Kevin Roche had for many years. Demolition of the 110,000-square-foot Wallace wing, which Roche designed and which opened in 1987, would need approval from New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission and others.

In April of 2016, museum leaders disclosed that they plan a series of budget cuts and that the timing of the Chipperfield project would be affected. They said the schematic design phase has been completed and that they will wait to proceed with any more design work until money for the project has been raised.

Other aspects of the restructuring include a reduction in staff through voluntary buyouts or layoffs or both, a hiring freeze, and scaling back some exhibition programming, as well as efforts to maximize revenues.

The cutbacks follow a period of expansion for the Met, including the opening of the Met Breuer satellite museum inside the former home of the Whitney Museum on Madison Avenue, and a reported $3 million campaign to develop a new branding approach for the institution.

Chipperfield’s previous museum projects include the Neues Museum in Berlin, Museo Jumex in Mexico City, the Saint Louis Art Museum and The Hepworth in Wakefield, England. Last month, Chipperfield’s design for a new Nobel Center in Stockholm received approval from the city council there.

The Met has been drawing more than six million visitors a year, even before the Met Breuer opened. According to a 2014 report in The Art Newspaper, it ranks as one of the three busiest museums in the world in terms of attendance, after the Louvre and the British Museum.

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