Barry Bergdoll: Museum of Modern Art Chooses Columbia Professor as Architecture Curator

Historians in the News

Ending seven months of speculation, the Museum of Modern Art is to announce its new chief curator of architecture and design today: he is Barry Bergdoll, chairman of Columbia University's art history department, who will begin work in January.

Mr. Bergdoll, a prominent scholar of 19th- and 20th-century architecture, follows Terence Riley, who last November signaled his intention to resign after 14 years in the post. The job has been vacant since March 30, when Mr. Riley left to become the director of the Miami Art Museum.

In an interview the Modern's director, Glenn D. Lowry, said that Mr. Bergdoll's appointment underlined the museum's "commitment to having an interesting program in architecture and design that can deal with the historic sweep of Modernism as well as the present."

Although Mr. Bergdoll is best known for his historical monographs and exhibitions, he has often written about contemporary architecture for newspapers and magazines.

"I've always thought of myself as working on modern architecture," Mr. Bergdoll, 51, said in a telephone interview yesterday. "I tend to see things people see as brand-new as having more historical context, and this is a moment for that — an enormous re-embracing of the heritage of the Modern movement."

Some commentators, among them Nicolai Ouroussoff, the architecture critic of The New York Times, have asserted that the Modern's architecture and design department gradually lost steam under Mr. Riley's long tenure.

Mr. Bergdoll declined to specify what exhibitions he might be contemplating, beyond saying that he hoped to include the work of some lesser-known architects. "It's an interesting moment to try to step back and see if one can do something in the context of MoMA that reflects the architecture profession more widely, and not just a handful of stars," he said.

Beyond individual architects, "there are more burning issues," he said, adding, "The really interesting questions have much more to do with architectural process and other kinds of trends and phenomena that are happening in the design world."...

Read entire article at NYT

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