The newly renovated Drawing Center. Courtesy of Claire Weisz and WXY Architecture + Urban Design.
NEW YORK - One of the coolest museum renovations this fall is the beloved Drawing Center in Soho, which debuted on Nov 7th. The small institution, the country’s only museum devoted to drawing, spent $10 million – a pittance, these days – to renovate and expand its Wooster Street space without giving into the fashionable gigantism among museums. I covered this small-is-beautiful trend in the New York Times back in September.
What I didn’t have room for in that piece was a discussion of the Return of Soho. That neighborhood, which was the cynosure of downtown gallery activity in the 1970s, 1980s and 90s, changed dramatically over the years; soon Chelsea took off as New York’s main art hub. But in the last couple of years, Soho has come back a bit – mainly because it’s now on an axis with the hopping dealer scene on the Lower East Side. So now galleries like Lehmann Maupin, Reena Spaulings, and can be tackled as part of an art walk that includes the New Museum and the Drawing Center.
The public programs space on the lower level of the Drawing Center. Courtesy of Claire Weisz and WXY Architecture + Urban Design.
“Grand Street has become sort of a new corridor from West to East,” Brett Littman, the Drawing Center’s director, told me in August. “We changed our hours from Wednesday to Sunday because the Lower East Side galleries are open on Sunday. All of a sudden, we’re seeing 300 to 500 people coming on Sunday.”
I anticipate that the crowds will only grow after the center reopens. Although its admission fee went up more than 50%, it was so low to begin with that I don’t think the bump will deter many people. What was $3 is now a whopping $5 – and I don’t think there’s a better bargain in town.