Ground broken on Queens Museum of Art expansion

The Queens Museum of Art broke ground for its expansion project on Tuesday, April 12, which will include the addition of 50,000 square feet of new galleries, classrooms, event spaces, a cafeteria and a museum shop.

The project, costing $65 million, is currently underway and is set to be completed at the end of 2013. It is being designed by Grimshaw Architects.

Borough President Helen Marshall noted that her office had contributed $22 million for the project.

“We’re all experiencing history,” said Marshall. “It’s going to be wonderful for the future.”

The museum is located within the New York City Building, initially constructed to house the 1939 World’s Fair Pavilion. After the renovation, the museum will use the entirety of the building.

The crowd of contributors and elected officials stood in front of the now closed ice skating rink with shovels in hand, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who thanked all those involved for making the project possible.

Pointing to the under construction rink, noting the pigeons, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer jokingly praised executive director Tom Finkelpearl for combining a museum with and aviary.

Van Bramer reminisced about learning to ice skate in the rink and said that the museum was the first one he had ever visited.

“Now is the time to reinvest in our cultural institutions,” Van Bramer said, adding that economic turmoil should not slow down the borough.

Alan Suna, chairman of the board for the museum, said that former borough president Claire Shulman had asked him to serve on the board. He called the museum a gift “for all of us here in Queens.”

Suna, also chief executive officer of Silvercup Studios, added that he learned how to ice skate in the New York City Building.

“I’m a Queens kid,” said Suna.

Finkelpearl noted that the funding for the expansion came from a mix of city capital and state and private funding. He added that the space was cramped, citing 200,000 visitors a year and a greater demand for classes. The former ice rink will hold the public events space, with a suite of galleries around it for temporary exhibitions.

The museum, located within Flushing Meadows-Corona Park next to the Unisphere, will be open through construction.

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