Museum paused for upgrade


CORRECTED 10:03 a.m. PT Feb. 6, 2008

A massive renovation of the Museum of the Moving Image scheduled to break ground this month will shutter the facility in Astoria for an extended period.

Groundbreaking will be Feb. 27, when the Riklis Theater and entire first floor are to be gutted; the remainder of the building will close for "several months" while construction continues, museum director Rochelle Slovin said.

"The back wall of the building has to be demolished, and in order to do that there's a huge amount of vibration and noise," she said. "It would not be a good idea to have the public in the building at that time."

No full-time employees are being laid off, and members will still have access to screenings and programs that will now be spread around Manhattan, including a monthly program at the Times Center, part of the New York Times building.

"We're partnering with a number of organizations to do screenings at a number of other locations, though it won't be the same as when we're in our own home," Slovin said.

The annual Museum of the Moving Image Salute, traditionally held in a banquet hall in Manhattan, will be unaffected by the construction.

When complete, the new museum will feature a 262-seat theater, a 71-seat screening room, an education center, expanded gallery space and a courtyard. The project will add 44,700 additional square feet (including courtyard) to the current facility, making for a total of 94,700 square feet.

Construction originally was slated to begin in fall 2007, but Slovin said: "We're very budget-conscious, and there was a need to keep it within budget. We're going full steam ahead now."

The museum is slated to have a grand reopening at the end of 2009.