Children’s Museum of the Arts

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Children’s Museum of the Arts

After 20 years in a tight space near Chinatown, New York City’s beloved Children’s Museum of the Arts secured a new space, in Hudson Square. Three times the size of their previous location, the CMA had an opportunity to reinterpret the best parts of their current museum and add the new programs they had long desired.

To provide a natural connection for all activities, the spaces are organized around a large central gallery that also gives CMA a new major exhibition and event space. This generous space is surrounded by a compressed band of color, a colorful spatial transition between the “white boxes” of the gallery and classrooms. Defined by CMA new logo colors, the color wheel is a way finder to the different programs and transforms smaller spaces into highly specific experiences– or ‘moments’ – to co-exist along more open and flexible spaces.

The existing configuration of the space, an old loading dock, with a three foot high step is used to organize the different flows of people. Upon entering the museum, and to distinguish between ages groups activities, the ‘7 and up’ kids can access the gallery on the upper level and linked art studios, clay bar and media lab. At the lower level, the younger kids and their parents can get into the strollers parking leading to the Wee arts studio, a space dedicated to toddlers that can be combined with the adjacent classrooms typically rented for birthday parties.

Spanning above the entrance, and part of the color band, a bridge features graffiti art and links to the museum’s famous Ball Pond; a green circular elevated structure highly visible from both the entrance and the outside. In the Art Studios, a large circular sink, the ‘sink-o-rama’ transforms the ordinary act of washing hands and supplies into a fun and memorable experience.

As a place of production as well as presentation of art, the new CMA walls and spaces are designed to allow for a constant shifting of the boundaries between the two: every surface is designed to allow for children to make art and learn about it seamlessly.

Description by WORK Architecture Company


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  • Georgi Sokolov
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