BROOKLYN — A completely new, significantly larger Brooklyn Museum Shop, designed by the award-winning architectural firm Visbeen Associates, Inc. is opening Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in a space previously devoted to temporary exhibitions.
At 4,150 square feet, the new shop is 1,600 square feet larger than the shop it replaces. The store is part of a multiphase transformation of much of the museum’s first floor, designed by Ennead Architects, that has already resulted in an extensive renovation of the museum’s historic Great Hall and the creation of a major new exhibition space.
“The major goals of the new design for the first floor of the Museum have been to create a more coherent visitor experience, larger footprints for the museum’s shop, restaurant, and exhibition galleries, and space to create a remarkable installation of major works from the Museum’s permanent collections,” comments Director Arnold L. Lehman.
The newly created store will be organized around an arc shape that will be reflected in a curved jewelry counter in the center that forms the focal point of the space and will be echoed in a coffered ceiling containing recessed lighting. Two light fixtures, created by Brooklyn artist David Weeks, will be focal points of the design. The shop will feature 225 linear feet of lightly stained oak casework with metal fittings, with additional freestanding fixtures in which merchandise will be displayed.
The new space, along the east side of the front façade of the building, was originally built in 1904 and is one of the oldest sections in the nearly 600,000-square-foot landmark building designed by McKim, Mead, & White. A wider entrance to the shop from the Lobby will provide greater visual access to the Great Hall, assisting circulation, and a rear entrance will connect it to planned temporary exhibition galleries.
One of the first in a museum in the United States, the Brooklyn Museum Shop began in 1935 as a sales desk offering publications, postcards, and photographs of objects in the Museum’s collections. In 1954 it evolved into a Gallery Shop that specialized in toys and original folk art and crafts from around the world, as well as objects related to special exhibitions. In 1963-64, the Museum Shop produced the first shopping bag created by a museum, featuring a four-color graphic.
Following the April opening of the Museum Shop, the next phase of the first-floor transformation, scheduled for completion in late summer of 2012, will include a new museum restaurant and cafe, a bar and an outdoor dining terrace, all planned to be opened for lunch and dinner. The dining room will also accommodate special functions. Casual dining areas will overlook the Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden. There will be direct access to the various dining areas and bar from the Museum’s 350-car parking lot.