Plans for Warhol Museum branch in NYC move ahead

The Andy Warhol Museum, which interprets the life and work of the internationally known pop artist and Pittsburgh native, has inched a step closer to opening a 10,000-square-foot branch on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

"The partnership has been formed and we're moving forward with our plans to open the branch in New York," Mr. Shiner told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an interview last week.

He announced the news Saturday night to 650 guests attending a black-tie dinner that celebrated the museum's opening 20 years ago in May 1994.

"There's still much work to be done to finalize the project and plans and designs," he added.

Mr. Shiner said the museum's high international profile, bolstered by a recent two-year traveling exhibition that drew large crowds in Asia before concluding this month, helped Delancey Street Associates stand out in a crowded field of competitors.

In September, Delancey Street Associates, a consortium of three developers, won approval to build a development called Essex Crossing on six acres owned by New York City. The city tore down blocks of run-down apartment buildings in the Seward Park neighborhood, once home to Hispanics and Jews. Since then, it has remained a barren stretch of parking lots and chain link fences.

The Pittsburgh museum, which is 88,000 square feet, has vast holdings.

"Ten percent of the collection is on view here because the collection is so large," Mr. Shiner said.

Having a New York presence "is like having a chance to exhibit more of the collection to a wider, more international audience and to encourage more people to come to Pittsburgh to see everything we have as well," Mr. Shiner said. "New York is the amuse bouche and Pittsburgh is the main course."

In a recent interview, Mr. Shiner said negotiations for this project began in 2012. David M. Hillenbrand, the president and CEO of Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, approved the initiative, as did Joel Wachs, president of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Delancey Street Associates will pay for the cost of building the museum branch, which has a target opening date of 2017. For the first five years of the museum's existence, the developers will pay for any operating deficits.

Mr. Shiner said Andy's presence will continue to be strongest in his hometown.

"We have no plans to ever leave Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh will always be the main Andy Warhol Museum."

The location appears apt. When Andy Warhola moved to New York in 1949, his first apartment was in Lower Manhattan on St. Mark's Place. The Lower East Side, where the branch housing his art will be built, teemed in the 1900s with immigrants whose lives of assimilation and struggle paralleled the experience of Warhol's parents, Andrej and Julia Warhola.

Marylynne Pitz: or 412-263-1648. First Published May 17, 2014 8:30 PM

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