After 20 years in a tight space near Chinatown, New York City’s beloved Children’s Museum of the Arts secured a new space three times the size of their previous location, giving the CMA an opportunity to reinterpret the best parts of their current museum and add the new programs they had long desired.
The spaces are organized around a large central gallery that gives CMA a new major exhibition and event space. Around the “white boxes” of the gallery and classrooms smaller spaces are transformed into highly specific ‘moments’ through a “color wheel” that identifies the different programs. The existing configuration of the space, an old loading dock, is used to organize the different flows of people. Upon entering the museum, the ‘7 and up’ kids can access the art gallery on the upper level, along with the classrooms, art studios and media lab.
At the lower level, the younger kids and their parents go through the “stroller parking garage” to the Wee arts studio. Dedicated to toddlers, it includes a brightly colored upholstered “quiet room”. 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 structure highly visible to the entrance and the outside.
The claymation-oriented media lab’s vestibule is the “clay bar” –where a bartender will serve modeling clay to kids. In the Art Studios, a large circular ‘sink-o-rama’ transforms the act of washing hands into a fun experience. The new CMA is designed to inspire children to both make art and learn about it: a place where production and presentation of art occur seamlessly.