The Galleries of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and The Americas at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

WHY has been commissioned to undergo a complete conceptual and physical redesign of the galleries which house the museum’s collection of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and The Americas. The collection has more than doubled in size since the Rockefeller Wing was first inaugurated in the 1980s, and practices of art history and curation have radically changed. Our new concept for the spaces reflects the need to convey the autonomy of the hundreds of distinct cultures represented in the galleries, and the design process is guided by close collaboration with curators and stakeholders.

Key info
Design Architect
Executed by Workshop HY Architecture & Design DPC
New York, NY
  • 2018 - Ongoing
  • 40,000 sf
Exhibit Design Architect, Interior Design Architect
Selected Press

The redesigned spaces will carefully reassess the relationship between vastly different world traditions and geographies. The planned installations will amplify an understanding of historical and cultural context, highlight the provenance of specific artifacts, and provide greater clarity and accessibility to visitors. This project is informed by extensive archival and field research, as well as sensitive engagement with representatives from the living cultures represented in the galleries.


As part of the comprehensive reimagining of the spaces, the project will encompass all new casework and displays, updates to interior finishes, and infrastructural improvements. New wayfinding and circulation strategies will encourage curiosity as visitors make their way through the galleries, and strong sightlines create connections between adjacent spaces and artworks. A defining element of the Rockefeller Wing is the glass curtain wall to the south of the galleries, which will be redesigned to meet conservation requirements and allow for greater integration with the park beyond. Throughout, the design is informed by a need for enhanced clarity and contextualization, and will set new standards for a more critical and culturally sensitive approach to museum design.

“In Akan culture, the term Sankofa refers to a quest for knowledge, visualized as a bird with feet planted forward and head turned backward. Likewise, this project involves a critical examination of the past as a guide for renewal.”

The AAOA Curatorial Team
  • WHY
Associate Architect (Curtain Wall)
  • Beyer Blinder Belle
Structural Engineer
  • Thornton Tomasetti
MEP Engineer
Lighting & Facade Engineer
  • ARUP
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