Storm King Art Center, the 500-acre art mecca located in the Hudson Valley, announced this week that it will undergo a $45 million expansion and redesign. Plans include a completely renovated 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 maintained on site, and a change in the way the museum approaches environmental sustainability.
The project is set to begin later this year and be completed by 2024. And according to Amy Wiser, Storm King’s deputy director of strategic planning and projects, that won’t stop anyone from visiting in the meantime.
“We’re thinking about how our visitors come in and how they start to experience Storm King,” Weisser told Gothamist. “We think about how to serve our artists. And [we want to show] that these museum buildings can allow experiences to happen and facilitate that without drawing attention to themselves, because at Storm King what we care about is people, art and landscape.”
Weisser says the plan has been more than a decade in the making, but the pandemic has sharpened understanding of what needs to be done immediately to improve the visitor experience — and what no should be added.
“When you come to Storm King, you come dressed for beautiful weather, for a hot day, for a cold day, so we don’t necessarily build a facility to welcome you inside,” Weisser said. “If we are going to build [anything], these facilities can interact with the outdoors – they can provide more shade or moderate heating – but they don’t have to be completely enclosed buildings, because we are an open-air museum. And one of the things that allows us to build much more efficiently.”
Much of this planning has been prompted by the museum’s explosion in popularity. In 2012, Storm King had about 80,000 visitors; in 2021 there were just under 222,000, and projections point to 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 across the street from the entrance will be taken over and turned into a dedicated parking facility 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 that has a ticket booth, eight bathrooms, 122 visitor lockers and more.
“When you come to the Storm King, you have probably traveled a long way; right off the bat you might need a toilet or a trash can or something very functional,” Weisser said. “We can provide them to you, and once you take care of that need, you can navigate there.”
She added that visitors will be greeted and given cards. “One of the ways that we’ve really talked about it is that it’s a much more accessible experience, especially for people who might not be as familiar with art museums, or it might be their first visit to Storm King “, she 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 conservation and production program to maintain the art it displays, but lacks a dedicated facility. These tasks mostly take place in an unheated streetcar garage in the middle of winter, which Weisser admits is not an ideal situation for the artists or the staff.
To remedy this, there will be a new 19,375-square-foot Conservation, Manufacturing and Maintenance Building located on the far south side of the space. It will include 7,200 square feet of flexible workspace, a woodworking shop, 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 “conserve sculpture, maintain sculpture, maintain a tram, make new work. In that space that we have there, now we can just be more careful in how we work with our artists and give to our artists the space to explore more, to be less expedient.”
Weisser says the project’s design was guided by the principles of sustainability: all-electric to achieve carbon neutrality; encourage more carpooling, public transport and the use of electric cars by creating more parking space for them; use only sustainable and durable material for new facilities; and build only what is needed, embracing the museum’s outdoor nature—for example, using trees and ceiling fans instead of air conditioning to cool spaces where possible.
Ideally, she hopes the new spaces “will feel like they’ve always been there, feel so intuitive.”
Storm King’s architectural partners on the redesign include Dublin-based heneghan peng architects; New York-based WXY Architecture + Urban Design; landscape architecture firms Gustafson Porter + Bowman, London; and Reid Hilderbrand of Cambridge, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut.