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New York City’s Latest Photography Museum Aims to “Inspire a More Conscious World”

By Sarah Buder

Dec 13, 2019

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In addition to Fotografiska’s new location in Manhattan, the Stockholm-based photography museum has a gallery in Tallinn, Estonia, with a soon-to-open venue in London as well.

Courtesy of Fotografiska

In addition to Fotografiska’s new location in Manhattan, the Stockholm-based photography museum has a gallery in Tallinn, Estonia, with a soon-to-open venue in London as well.

Housed in a landmark Renaissance revival building in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, Fotografiska New York will showcase rotating exhibits that focus on human issues and global cultures.

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In addition to being known as “the city that never sleeps,” New York City could also be nicknamed “the place that never stops expanding its world-class art offerings.” Just a few months after one of Manhattan’s most-visited museums debuted its impressive $450 million overhaul in Midtown, a nearby neighborhood is welcoming another exciting art venue: a museum dedicated entirely to photography called Fotografiska New York, which opens in the Flatiron District on December 14.

Housed in a historic six-floor building tucked between Gramercy and Madison Square Parks, the new venue marks the first U.S. outpost for Fotografiska, a Swedish photography museum founded in 2010 with the mission of “inspiring a more conscious world” through images that shed light on global issues. Inside the restored 1890s building located at 281 Park Avenue South, which was formerly a registered landmark known as the Church Missions House, three entire floors serve as galleries for Fotografiska New York’s exhibitions, which museum organizers say will rotate, spotlighting world-renowned photographers as well as emerging talents across a spectrum of styles, including abstract, landscape, portrait, and documentary. 

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Fotografiska New York’s debut program includes five solo photography exhibitions, all of which were developed directly with the artists. Devotion! 30 Years of Photographing Women surveys German photographer Ellen von Unwerth’s award-winning career, adding new images to a previous exhibit shown at the Fotografiska Stockholm in 2018. Testaments, a series by leading Israeli photographer Adi Nes, examines the complexities of identity and masculinity in a conflict-torn Israel; Inheritance by Tawny Chatmon celebrates the beauty of African American children through portraits that are loosely inspired by 15th- through 19th-century paintings; and Thinking Like a Mountain by environmental photographer Helene Schmitz investigates humanity’s exploitation of the natural world and its resources.

“The Last Supper,” a 1996 photograph by Israeli photographer Adi Nes, is one of many staged portraits in which the artist explores issues surrounding Israeli identity and masculinity.

In a special commission for the museum’s opening titled Fotografiska For Life X Time, English Swedish photojournalist Anastasia Taylor-Lind documents the lives of New York City women with interconnected child-care relationships—mothers, grandmothers, nannies, babysitters, night nurses, and day-care workers—exploring what the exhibit description outlines as the “complicated web” of child care in the United States. “We want to start with a strong point of view,” Fotografiska New York director of exhibitions Amanda Hajjar said in a press release. “We want to challenge both our guests’ perspectives and the traditional ideas of what can and should be shown within a museum-like setting.”

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In addition to three exhibition floors (on the third, fourth, and fifth levels), Fotografiska New York features a ground-level lobby café and museum shop, as well as a space for special programming and events on the sixth floor. The building’s second level comprises a soon-to-open dining room and bar dubbed Verōnika, which museum officials say is a nod to Veronica, the patron saint of photography. Helmed by executive chef Robert Aikens (and operated by the award-winning Starr Restaurants group), the menu at Verōnika draws inspiration from cuisines and seasonal dishes in northern France, Austria, and Eastern Europe, with an interior inspired by Europe’s 19th-century “grand cafés” designed by New York–based firm Roman and Williams.

To celebrate Fotografiska New York’s opening (which was originally slated for September 2019 but ultimately delayed until December 2019), the photography institution will host a series of artist conversations, dinners, and other special programming that will take place through March 2020. Museum organizers say the schedule will be announced shortly after the opening—yet another reason for art lovers in New York City to rejoice.

Beginning December 14, 2019, Fotografiska New York will be open Sunday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight. Tickets cost $28 for adults, $18 for seniors and students; entry is free for children under 12 years old in groups of six people or less.

>> Plan Your Trip With AFAR’s Guide to New York City

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