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Met Museum Reaches Fund-Raising Goal for New Modern Wing

The Metropolitan Museum of Art on Wednesday announced that it has raised $550 million in private donations for its new modern and contemporary wing, named after Oscar L. Tang and Agnes Hsu-Tang in honor of the couple’s $125 million lead gift in 2021.

The fund-raising goal has been met even as the museum is still in the design process and has yet to produce renderings for the new Tang Wing by the Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, who was selected in 2022.

Cultural institutions often find themselves hustling to cover construction costs right up to completion of a project, given the challenge of raising all the money in advance. And the Met in 2017 had tabled the project to get its financial house in order. (At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for example, fund-raising has continued during construction; when it announced last August that it had exceeded its $750 million goal, the building was more than 65 percent finished.)

“What this signifies is not only that it’s happening, but it’s happening with full force and with total commitment,” the museum’s director, Max Hollein, said in a telephone interview. “We’ve raised this money without even having the design done. The credibility of the Met has changed.”

The museum has long hoped to improve its galleries for Modern and contemporary art, which have felt like something of an afterthought without a clear program in the Fifth Avenue building. While design details have yet to be released, the museum aims to make the new wing feel more connected to the rest of the collection both physically and contextually. The galleries in the new wing are also expected to be of varying heights and dimensions.

While not a huge increase in square footage — the galleries will expand to 125,000 square feet from 120,000 — the redesign will create more space in the galleries by reinventing the existing layout.

The wing will also be home to Leonard Lauder’s Cubism gift, received in 2013, Hollein said, as well as the archive of the photographer James Van Der Zee, which it acquired with the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2021, and its Philip Guston collection, received in 2022.

Hollein said the museum will aim to raise an additional $100 million to $150 million for an endowment to support the building’s operating costs.

Fund-raising goals often prove to be moving targets as capital projects mushroom while underway. And the Met, which is on city land, still has to go through a complex public approval process. But for now, the museum sees this milestone as significant.

“It shows the confidence of the board, of the donors, maybe even of the community in regard to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Hollein said. “That’s pretty powerful.”

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