“New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is to undertake a renovation of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Galleries (AAOA), overseen by Los Angeles architecture firm WHY.
The three regional collections, which were founded almost 50 years ago, are hosted within the museum’s Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which is to be completely reimagined. The overarching aim of the redesign is to reintroduce the collections with a refreshed voice, engaging them in a new dialogue with the rest of the museum’s offerings, which stretch back over 5,000 years.
LA practice WHY is no stranger to rethinking museum spaces. The firm, led by creative director Kulapat Yantrasast (who walked us through how he uses Apple’s iPad Pro), has completed projects for the Harvard Art Museums, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Samurai, to name a few.
‘The team at the Met visited our previous works at the Harvard Art Museums and at the Art Institute of Chicago,’ states Yantrasast. ‘I believe something must have spoken to them about the clean-line aesthetic, focus on the collection, and its installation.’
The concept for the $70 million project is to divide the 40,000 sq ft wing into three individual spaces, transporting visitors across the respective regions’ histories through art. ‘These areas cover more than three quarters of the world, yet there is not sufficient distinction given to them in most museum presentations,’ says Yantrasast. ‘In the new design, each region is given its own access portal and sense of place – inspired by an architectural impression of the region, as well as strong visual connection to other regions and other collections at The Met.’ ”