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Poking Koch: Meet the Metropolitan Museum’s Vibrant New Plaza & Its Detractors (with videos)

Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

There’s been a persistent Twitter backlash over the last week against the Metropolitan Museum’s latest capital project, featuring (among many others) two prominent NY Times critics expressing displeasure over the lively, engaging new urban space created by OLIN’s just concluded redesign of the museum’s entrance plaza and fountains. (As far as I can see, the Times has published a photo but no review of this significant upgrade to NYC’s cultural cityscape.)

I can only think that the critics’ view of the plaza may have been clouded by the prevailing artworld sentiment (which I share) against the politics of the project’s controversial megabucks donor—David H. Koch. He shelled out the entire $65-million cost for the re-do, thereby rightfully receiving a naming opportunity.

Here’s a taste of the Twitter chatter (with a needed corrective, at the end, by the well-regarded former NYC Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe). After that, you’ll hear my on-the-scene narration of two CultureGrrl Videos—one shot on the day  the plaza partly reopened; the other, several days later when the place was in full swing.

The lead-off tweet, by NY Times senior art critic Roberta Smith, puns on the donor’s name (which is pronounced like the soda, not like former NYC Mayor Ed Koch):


If they really think the plaza is so awful, Smith and/or Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman should follow up their tweets with more considered appraisals.

For now, come tour the area with me to see how lively it’s become, critics notwithstanding. (For a look at how it appeared before the re-do, see this CultureGrrl Video.)

Personal Note: I’ll be traveling on a workation and, upon my return, I’ll be writing a mainstream-media piece. So blog posts over the next week or two will be few-to-none. I’ll keep tweeting!

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