The master plan will address a variety of challenges for the century-old museum, which has been enlarged and expanded multiple times over the years. Mia Deputy Director Matthew Welch said much of the focus will be on accommodating rising attendance and the evolving role of the museum as a community space that hosts events of all sizes.
“We weren’t designed that way,” Welch said. “We don’t have those kinds of spaces.”
Improving the visitor experience, including circulation between galleries on the sprawling campus, is another goal.
“We’re painfully aware that when somebody enters on 3rd Avenue it’s a long way to get to the special exhibitions,” Welch said.
He said the museum is “reaching capacity for staff and art storage,” two other important issues the master plan could touch on. The museum may also seek to upgrade its “way outdated” auditorium, Welch said, describing it as more of a lecture hall than a performance space, since it lacks a backstage area.
Chipperfield, with offices in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai, has worked on recent museum projects in St. Louis, Houston, Berlin, London and Mexico City.
Mia’s original neoclassical building, designed by McKim, Mead and White, opened in 1915 and was expanded with a 1974 addition designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. It underwent a $50 million renovation and expansion in the 1990s, and in 2006 Mia opened the new Target Wing designed by Michael Graves.
Asked about a future capital campaign to fund any updates to the museum, Welch said that would be addressed after the master plan is developed over a period of nine or 12 months. He described the level of community support for the arts as “astonishing,” noting that construction of Mia’s Target Wing coincided with several other major arts infrastructure projects, including Jean Nouvel’s new Guthrie Theater and the Walker Art Center’s Herzog & de Meuron-designed expansion.