by Catherine White
For over 100 years, the Hudson River Museum has been home to an extensive collection of regional and broader American artwork that has cultivated the minds of its visitors – all while situated right next to the Hudson River and Palisades. Now, the museum will capitalize on that history with its West Wing expansion.
This expansion, which broke ground in November, will increase the museum from 40,000 to 52,000 square feet. The renovation will include long-awaited additions, including special exhibition galleries, an auditorium, art storage, a sculpture court and a new River Terrace. Subsequent renovations will include the restoration of the Museum’s historic Glenview Home and a roof repair.
The expansion will be funded by a previously allocated $12.28M from Westchester County, the City of Yonkers and New York State. The museum will be fully operational during the anticipated two-year process.
Archimuse, led by architects Benjamin Kracauer, AIA, and Reuben Jackson, RA, will lead the design of the expansion. The firm has completed projects for many well-known museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
For Archimuse, this project is the culmination of a long-term plan that began almost 20 years ago. Said Kracauer: “We started working with the Hudson River Museum in 2002 on a master plan that plotted the growth of the Museum over the next 20 years. Every part of that master plan has been built except for the West Wing.” He added: “The first component… [created] the lobby, which unified the museum and showed that [the museum] was a campus…of beautiful buildings working together and the West Wing is the final piece of the puzzle.”
Totaling 3,350 square feet, the special exhibition galleries will be a 15-foot-tall facility that will accommodate a wide range of rotating exhibitions and will allow the museum to show off more of its personal collection.
According to the Museum’s Director and CEO, Masha Turchinsky: “Once we have these new galleries, the exciting part is that we’re going to be afforded the opportunity to thoughtfully reinterpret our existing permanent collection in those spaces. So the end result will be that the public will get to experience far more of the permanent collection than it ever has in the history of the institution.”
Centered in this novel gallery will be a cantilevered glass overlook, which will allow visitors to enjoy a three-sided panoramic view of the adjacent Hudson River and Palisades.
“What we are particularly excited about is building world-class art galleries that will also have spaces with sweeping views of the Palisades and the River,” Turchinsky said. “At the same time, it’s going to open up countless new possibilities to feature world-class artists, emerging artists whose names deserve to be better known, and also create some significant juxtapositions with our permanent collection.”
The sculpture court, which will have a view of the museum’s courtyard, Glenview and the Hudson River, will be a space dedicated to displaying the museum’s sculptures, which have been rarely seen due to a lack of space.
The 3,000-square-foot art storage will meet the requirements imposed by lender organizations and the American Alliance of Museums so that the museum’s art can be safe and the storage can conform to professional standards. Turchinsky explained that her HRM team is specifically enthusiastic about the art storage and how it will positively impact the museum as a whole, given that they have so far had to compromise with storage space.
The addition of the 100-seat auditorium, which will adhere to the natural cascading grade, will allow a space for multimedia performances and presentations. Guests will also be able to walk right outside the auditorium onto a new and improved River Terrace.
The River Terrace, which will be upgraded from the current outdoor patio with a new concrete slab and glass parapet, will connect the auditorium to the existing Hudson Room, where special events take place.
Turchinsky is enthusiastic that this expansion will even further expose the Westchester community to accessible world-class art.
“We are very grateful to Westchester County, the City of Yonkers and New York State for coming together to sponsor this important project,” she said. “This is an incredible investment in the arts, and a recognition that cultural organizations are not just nice things to have, but [that they] lift up and elevate communities. Also that access to arts and culture encourages critical thinking skills, encourages forward-thinking dialogue and is a respectful space for people to come and debate important topics. So we’re really excited that these new spaces will allow for that.”
A version of this article first appeared in the December-January issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNewsis distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.