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BlogBack: Chris Crosman on Saving Folk Art Museum’s Building

Chris Crosman at Crystal Bridges in 2011 Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Chris Crosman at Crystal Bridges Museum in 2011
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

In previous posts, I acknowledged that my failure to mourn the demise of the American Folk Art Museum’s former building was a contrarian view (although Jerry Saltz is one who agrees with me).

Giving the opposite side of the argument is Chris Crosman, founding curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (who left there at the end of 2011). Crosman, who had to deal with some architectural challenges of his own, responds to Contrarian Musings: Why Folk Art Museum’s Building Should Not Be Saved:

This was never a building sufficient in size to the ambitions of the Folk Art Museum and their often misguided programming reflected curatorial and administrative management problems that no building could cure.  Even so, I often visited the museum and found it an oasis of quirky respite alongside the outsize pretentiousness of MoMA.

Repurposing this building for parts of MoMA’s design and architecture programs would better serve the museum and the public.  It’s too early to give up on an important if controversial building by acclaimed architects who I believe followed the program they were given on a site that was difficult, to say the least. I write this as a museum person who has retrofitted a number of buildings from a 19th-century church to a Main Street five-and-dime.

Crystal Bridges, as you know, has its own issues with design competing with function but that is often the nature of dynamic, creative endeavors, at least since Wright’s Guggenheim.  I come back to the irony of an institution–MoMA–charged with preserving the integrity of art while swinging a wrecking ball at its own mission.

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