Background Story
Background Story (2012) Xu Bing Natural debris attached to acrylic panel 25x12x7ft

Mass MoMA

Space, the final frontier. At least, you can say that much of art and New York. There is never enough space to conceptualizer, make, and display art. Even in museums outside of New York, there are precious few locations that can accommodate more than a few large sculptures, let alone an awe inspiring behemoth such as the pair of Phoenixes spanning the cleared factory floor of Mass MoCA.

Pheonix Project

Pheonix Project (2007-2010)
Xu Bing
Debris and materials from construction sites
26×95 and 26x100ft

And that’s the take away: Mass MoCA is huge…and inspired. Converted from a retired textile factory, Mass MoCA has large floors, industrial facilities, and unique spaces. In hindsight, factories seem the ideal conversion site for museums: their industrial lifts and extra wide doorways for the easy transport of machinery and materials is similarly fitting for handling large installations that defy the delicate dry wall of domestic abodes.

Not only has the museum beautifully converted an industrial work floor to a winding labyrinth of wonder, it has beautifully leveraged its environment. Along with their main building, Mass MoCA features a sound installation by Stephen Vitiello and levitated walk to a surreal camper van by Michael Oatmen within the remains of the factory’s boiler house. No need to remake the wheel when a haunting and immersive space is there for the using.

I suppose I write this because I want more. I’ve been to so many preserved Victorian houses of old masters or palaces of architectural ego that Mass MoCA is refreshing.


Start (2009-2012)
Jason Middlebrook

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