Designing the Future
The Queens Museum of Art and The New York City Building

Designing the Future: The Queens Museum of Art and the New York City Building is a story about transformation. It is about the growth of the Queens Museum of Art in the New York City Building over the past 30 years; and about the life of this structure as its function and identity change from pavilion to museum. The exhibition presents the work of architects who, through models and plans, envision a dynamic future for the museum.

The exhibition is organized in three sections:
The New York City Building from 1939 World’s Fair Pavilion to Queens Museum of Art

Design documents, renderings, photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia illustrate the uses of this building as the New York City Pavilion at the 1939/40 World’s Fair; as a public recreational facility after the Fair; and as home to the United Nations General Assembly from 1946 to 1952. In the 1960s the building was again remodeled to function as the New York City Pavilion and Ice Theater during the 1964/65 World’s Fair, with the Panorama of the City of New York, commissioned by Robert Moses and created by Lester Associates, installed in its north wing. Under the auspices of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, the New York City Building maintained its educational and recreational services to the public until 1971.

The Queens Museum of Art from 1972 to the Present
In 1972 the Queens Museum of Art, founded as the Queens County Art and Cultural Center, occupied the north half of the building retaining the Panorama of the City of New York. This section of the exhibition features works of art and archival documents that offer an overview of the growth of the museum: its permanent collection, special exhibitions, and educational programs. Documents related to the dramatic 1990-1994 renovation of the museum’s quarters by Rafael Viñoly and updating of the Panorama bring the design history of the New York City Building and the Queens Museum of Art to this moment.
From its establishment, the museum has pursued building a permanent collection that preserves the artistic heritage of Queens and contains works of international and culturally diverse 20th– and 21st–century art that contribute to an understanding of American art. At present, the collection encompasses an archive of 3,500 documents and artifacts related to the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, the Panorama, the 9,335 sq.ft. model of the city created for the 1964 World’s Fair, and 1,800 works of modern and contemporary art. A sampling drawn from the museum’s collection, including works by Berenice Abbott, Dawoud Bey, Chakaia Booker, Cai Guo-Qiang, Grace Hartigan, Lewis W. Hine, Reginald Marsh, and Theodore Roszak, is on view.
A Tiffany Studios window is presented in this exhibition to signal that since 1997 the museum has housed and displayed a collection of Tiffany objects on extended loan from the Egon and Hildegard Neustadt Museum of Tiffany Art. These objects, made in the company’s workshops formerly located in Corona, Queens, are examples of the borough’s artistic heritage.
The museum has offered over 250 temporary exhibitions on a wide range of subjects with an emphasis on presenting contemporary art of particular significance to the museum’s ethnically diverse audiences. For example, recent museum-organized exhibitions include Out of India: Art of the South Asian Diaspora; Modern Odysseys: Greek American Artists of the 20th Century; and Crossing the Line, a collaboration among artists and community members to create works placed in Queens neighborhoods and the museum. Past exhibitions such as Dawn of a New Day: The New York World’s Fair, 1939/40 and Remembering the Future: The New York World’s Fair from 1939 to 1964 exemplify the museum’s commitment to exploring pertinent historical and cultural themes. The museum has long supported work by contemporary and emerging artists, especially those who are Queens-based, through juried exhibitions, programs such as Queens Focus, and solo presentations at the Bulova Corporate Center.
To extend the impact of its exhibitions and fulfill its educational mission, the museum has from its inception produced a rich array of film programs, lecture series, art workshops, and performances for schoolchildren and adults. Through its nationally recognized ArtAccess program, the museum offers art workshops for children and adults with a variety of emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities. Long-term collaborations with local organizations have resulted in cultural programming of interest to the diverse communities of Queens. Art Zone, established in 2000, is an interactive space where children and adults can learn more about artists and current exhibitions.
Design for the Expansion of the Queens Museum of Art
The New York City Department of Design and Construction, in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Queens Museum of Art, sponsored its first design competition in 2001 to select an architect for the expansion of the museum beyond its present space into the entire building. Architect Ralph Lerner, former dean of the Princeton School of Architecture, served as competition advisor. The centerpiece for this section of the exhibition is the models and presentation boards representing the future Queens Museum of Art envisioned by the competition winner Eric Owen Moss Architects. His scheme was judged to be most successful in addressing the relationship between the park and the building, bringing excitement, drama, and an inviting quality to the museum’s façade. The expanded museum will include a new study center for collections, more galleries for temporary installations, additional education workshops, a multipurpose gathering space to accommodate performances and receptions, increased space to house the permanent collection, and a café.

In celebration of the competition process, architectural models and visual materials submitted by competition finalists, Evidence Design (Second Place Winner), Fox & Fowle Architects PC, Hanrahan + Meyers Architects (Third Place Winner), and Salazar Davis Architects, are on view. In addition, the 198 concept design entries received in the first stage of the competition are available to visitors.

Designing the Future is presented in appreciation of the work and vision of city and state officials, museum trustees, staff, volunteers, and supporters, past and present. It marks the beginning of yet another exciting transformation.

The Community Partnership Gallery at the Queens Museum provides opportunities for our cultural and other nonprofit organizational partners to develop and mount short-term exhibitions based on their programs and our collaborative projects. In addition, it regularly showcases the work of students in the Museum’s Department of Education programs.