Two specialists working on major NYC museum projects discuss the thrills and challenges of creating spaces for art
Kulapat Yantrasast sees himself as a matchmaker between art and people. “I look at buildings as characters,” he says. “If that building is a person: Do I like that person? Is it too egoistic? Is it too much facade with no real soul?”
As an architect and creative director at wHY in Los Angeles, Yantrasast lets this philosophy guide his projects: it may be why so many galleries and museums have chosen to work with him. The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently announced that Yantrasast will design a major renovation of its Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, dedicated to Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, beginning in late 2020.
On the occasion of a recent visit to New York, Yantrasast met with Lana Hum, MoMA’s director of Exhibition Design and Production, who is deeply immersed in the installation of new gallery spaces and the integration of existing spaces for an expanded MoMA opening this October. Like Yantrasast, she wants to see “the soul of the building come through each and every time you transform the space.” In the conversation below, the two shared the particular thrills and challenges of creating spaces for art and profound experiences for visitors.
LH: I know you’ve made beautiful spaces for art. And I’m interested in talking to someone who makes permanent spaces, such as museum environments, because when my team is designing exhibition spaces, we’re always considering the envelope—the building itself. You want the soul of the building to come through each and every time you transform the space. So, as someone who creates the initial space as an invitation for all these other things to happen in it, how do you think about that?
KY: I think a lot about this. And I always see myself almost like a matchmaker between art and people.