MoMA to buy American Folk Art Museum

May 11, 2011 09:34AM

The Museum of Modern Art is buying the home of its next-door neighbor, the cash-strapped American Folk Art Museum at 45 West 53rd Street, according to the New York Times.

The folk art museum’s building, which opened in 2001 and was designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, sits between the current MoMA space and a vacant lot that has long been slated for additional museum development. MoMA sold that vacant lot to Hines in 2007 with the understanding that the developer would ultimately build additional gallery space there.

Owning the building in between would allow MoMA to connect the galleries, though it’s unclear whether the existing structure would be torn down.

The folk art museum, which also has a smaller branch in Lincoln Square that it will hold onto, took out a $32 million loan to Construct The 53rd Street property but ran into trouble amid weak visitor numbers and the economic downturn. While MoMA’s purchase price wasn’t disclosed, folk art museum officials said it was enough to satisfy the debt.

Meanwhile, the museum pays $1 per year to rent its Lincoln Square space and may consider putting on shows in other locations in the future. A closing date for the 53rd Street museum has not yet been set. [NYT]