Nearly two decades ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art completed the 1970 master plan by Kevin Roche, FAIA, of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates (KRJDA), for its building in New York City’s Central Park. Since then, the museum may not expand up or out on its site. Yet it continues to reconfigure interior spaces to accommodate changing curatorial needs and increased attendance. The latest installment in this ongoing process, the second phase of a three-part renovation of the museum’s American Wing, was unveiled on May 18 in a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by First Lady Michelle Obama
This stage of the project—by Roche, with the assistance of Garry Leonard, AIA, a senior design associate at KRJDA, and managing partner James P. Owens, Jr., AIA, in close collaboration with the Met’s curatorial staff—focused on the wing’s historic period rooms and glass-enclosed Charles Engelhard Court. It has transformed the erstwhile garden atrium into an exhibition hall by removing planters and replacing a formerly sunken, mason granite floor with a level Jerusalem limestone surface for the installation of sculpture. A new mezzanine was added under the balcony on the Central Park side of the court to display decorative arts, and the ground beneath it was excavated to provide 9,500 square feet of much-needed service space. The period rooms, which span the 17th through the early 20th century, were revised and reorganized for better chronological order and a clearer historical narrative.