Storm King Art Center, the 500-acre art mecca located in the Hudson Valley, announced this week that it is set to undergo a $45 million expansion and redesign. Plans include a completely revamped entrance that includes new parking facilities and expanded art space, construction of a nearly 20,000-square-foot building where art can be preserved and preserved on site, and a change in how the museum approaches environmental sustainability.
The project is set to begin later this year and be completed by 2024. And, according to Amy Weisser, Storm King’s associate director of strategic planning and projects, it won’t hinder or prevent anyone from visiting in the meantime.
“We’re thinking about how our guests come in and how they start to experience Storm King,” Weisser told Gothamist. “We think about how we serve our artists [we want to show] that these museum buildings can allow experiences to happen and facilitate that without drawing attention to them, because at Storm King we’re talking about people, art and landscape.”
Weisser says the plan has been in the works for more than a decade, but the pandemic heightened understanding of what needed to be done immediately to improve the guest experience — and what he did not do it must be added.
“When you come to Storm King, you come dressed for fair weather, for a warm day, for a cold day, so we don’t necessarily need to build a facility to welcome you in,” Weisser said. “If we are going to build [anything], these facilities can interact with the outdoors — they may provide more shade or a moderate amount of heating — but they don’t have to be fully enclosed buildings, because we’re an open-air museum. And one of the things it does is it allows us to build much more efficiently.”
Much of this planning is motivated by the museum experiencing a boom in popularity. In 2012, Storm King had approximately 80,000 visitors. in 2021 it had just under 222,000 and forecasts show around 239,000 visitors this year.
To accommodate the increase in attendance, Storm King has had to add more and more different parking lots to its main campus. But now the unused land opposite the entrance will be taken over and turned into a dedicated parking space that can hold 580 cars, with more space for public transport drop-off points and electric car charging stations. This will then lead to a 4,700-square-foot outdoor lobby and welcome center, which features a ticketing kiosk, eight bathrooms, 122 guest lockers and more.
“When you come to Storm King, you’ve probably had a long drive; right away you might need a toilet or a trash can or some kind of very functional thing,” Weisser said. “We can provide them to you, and then once you’ve taken care of that need, you can orient yourself there.”
He added that visitors will be greeted and given maps. “One way we’ve really talked about it is that it’s a much more accessible experience, especially for people who might not be familiar with art museums or it might be their first visit to Storm King,” he said.
In addition, 4.5 acres of former parking lots will be transformed into a landscape for art and programming, and more than 650 new trees of 20 different species will be planted.
Storm King currently has an extensive maintenance and construction program to preserve the art it displays, but does not have a dedicated facility. These works were mostly done in an unheated tram garage in the middle of winter, which Weisser admits was not an ideal situation for the artists or the staff.
To address this, there will be a new 19,375 square foot Maintenance, Construction and Maintenance Building, located on the south side of the site. It will include a 7,200-square-foot flexible workspace, a wood shop, a paint booth and more. This will prove particularly useful for the Outlooks series, which has been showcasing the work of emerging and mid-career artists since 2013.
The new building will allow Storm King to “maintain a sculpture, maintain a sculpture, maintain a tram, build a new project. In this space that we have there, we can now be more careful in how we work with artists and to allow our artists the space to explore more, to be less handy.”
Weisser says the vision for the project was driven by sustainability principles: keep everything all-electric to help achieve carbon neutrality. it encourages more ride share, public transport and electric car use, creating more space for them in the car park. Use only sustainable and durable material for new installations. and build only what is necessary, embracing the outdoor nature of the museum – for example, using trees and ceiling fans instead of air conditioning to cool spaces where possible.
Ideally, he hopes the new spaces “will feel like they’ve always been there, feel so intuitive.”
Storm King’s architectural partners on the redesign include heneghan peng architects, from Dublin. WXY Architecture + Urban Design based in New York. landscape architecture firms Gustafson Porter + Bowman, of London; and Reed Hilderbrand of Cambridge, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut.