IMCC Panel – Reenvisioning The Met's Michael C. Rockefeller Wing

Article – 23 Nov 2023

Bruno Goppion spoke about Design Assist at the The International Museum Construction Congress in Antwerp earlier this month. The panel, “Rethinking an Icon - Reenvisioning The Met's Michael C. Rockefeller Wing,” included Justin Mayer of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brian Butterfield of WHY Architecture. Since opening in 1982, the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, which presents art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has nearly doubled in size, yet the Wing has not undergone a comprehensive redesign to incorporate the growing collection… until now.

The presentation of the project focused on the collaboration between The Met and WHY Architecture on all facets of the design and construction process, with emphasis on designing for the over 1000 objects on display and Goppion’s role as design collaborator and fabricator of the casework. During his contribution to the panel, Bruno Goppion outlined the principals of our Design Assist program, which we applied to this project, and underlined the importance of sustainability, and creating casework that lasts for several decades.

The design of the project reflects the curatorial goals to convey the autonomy and distinction of the hundreds of living traditions and cultures represented in the galleries while respecting the legacy of the original Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, and sensitively addressing its connections to adjacent collections. The Museum's need to upgrade facilities and conservation standards made renovations critical, while new scholarship and curatorial narratives contributed to the necessity for a complete re-imagining of the wing, including the replacement of the sloped curtain wall glazing along the south end of the galleries.

The talk focused in part on how the reconfiguration balanced collection care and architectural expression, sightlines and views of Central Park, and issues of daylighting, a collaborative working method, art storage planning and logistics, and the role of design in redefining people’s perception of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.