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In an Expansion, the Rubell Museum Will Bring Its Tastemaking Private Art Collection to Washington, D.C., Next Year


Miami’s Rubell Museum, one of the most prestigious and influential private contemporary art institutions in the U.S., is expanding with a long-awaited second location in Washington, D.C.

Founded by Don and Mera Rubell, the institution is a showcase for their extensive art collection. For emerging artists, the Rubell’s patronage (and a coveted residency at the museum) can be star-making—Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Lucy Dodd, and, most recently, Amoako Boafo are among the many artists who have benefitted from their stamp of approval.

The couple began collecting art the year they married, back in 1964. In 1993, they began welcoming the public to the Rubell Family Collection in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. In 2019, the private museum movedwith great fanfare—to the city’s Allapattah neighborhood, rebranding itself the Rubell Museum.

The new D.C. branch will display contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, and installation art in the former Randall Junior High School. The property has a long history in Washington. Originally built in 1906, the school operated until 1978, when the city converted it into a men’s shelter and artist studios.

The Corcoran College of Art + Design bought the building from the city in 2006 and planned to develop it into a campus and luxury condominiums, but the project foundered after the financial crisis. The Rubells, who own the Capitol Skyline Hotel down the street, bought the building from the Corcoran for $6.5 million back in 2010, according to Art in America.

Plagued by delays and partnership changes (last year, the real estate developer Lowe took over the project), the redevelopment now appears to be back on track. It is expected to open by the end of 2022.

Mera Rubell at the construction site for the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum, formerly the Randall School in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

Mera Rubell and and Hany Hasson, the lead architect for the project from Beyer Blinder Belle, at the site for the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum, formerly the Randall School in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Rubells will take over the central building and east wing, adding a glass entry pavilion designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners featuring a bookstore, café, and an outdoor dining terrace. The west wing will serve as office space for a variety of companies in creative fields such as nonprofits, cultural institutions, and technology incubators.

A spokesperson for the Rubells declined to offer additional details about their plans for the museum. The couple’s collection includes extensive holdings of work by Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Catherine Opie, Kerry James Marshall, and other famous names.

Lowe, the project’s developer, is also building Gallery 64, a new 12-story residential building, on the 2.7 acre grounds. It will house 492 units of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, 98 of which will be dedicated to affordable housing. The Historic Preservation Review Board and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission have approved the concept design for the historic property’s redevelopment.

The museum’s 100,000-square-foot Miami campus, designed by Selldorf Architects, features 40 galleries, a library, and a restaurant housed in a retrofitted food processing complex.

See more renderings of the D.C. project below.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and PlannersThe Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami's Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Randall School in Washington, D.C., will become home to the second location of Miami’s Rubell Museum and a new Gallery 64 apartment building. Rendering courtesy of Blinder Belle Architects and Planners.

The Rubell Museum DC will be located at 65 Eye Street, SW, Washington, D.C.

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Activists’ Plan to Bring a March Against Toxic Philanthropy Inside MoMA Ended in Conflicting Accounts of Violence


An organized march against the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) board ended in a heated standoff between demonstrators and security guards at the entrance to the institution last Friday, April 30. Two security guards and one protestor were reportedly injured in the incident.

The march marked the fourth in a series of 10 “Strike MoMA” demonstrations organized by a coalition of activist groups that have united under the name the International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF). About 40 people took part, according to the New York Times

Accompanied by a police escort, the protestors marched through midtown New York, making stops in front of BlackRock, the investment company owned by controversial MoMA trustee Larry Fink, and the luxury residential buildings that make up “Billionaires’ Row,” before concluding at MoMA.

There, in a gesture against the museum’s $25 entrance fee, they attempted to enter the venue, but were denied by the venue’s security. 

“As we arrived, MoMA was converted into a high-security fortress,” the activist group said in an email. “Doors were locked from the inside by other guards. Outside guards used their bodies to obstruct the entrances. The reason we were given repeatedly is this, we quote: ‘We cannot permit you to protest inside.’”

Representatives from the group told Midnight Publishing Group News that they sent MoMA director Glenn Lowry a letter a week prior, warning museum administration of their plans to enter the building. (A copy of the letter was shared with Midnight Publishing Group News.) MoMA never responded to the letter, they said.

“We anticipated a peaceful protest,” a MoMA press officer told Midnight Publishing Group News, “and we were prepared to respect and accommodate the protesters’ activity, so long as they respected New York State’s and City’s COVID-19 health and safety requirements of masking, social-distancing, and temperature screening. They refused to do so, repeatedly threatened Museum frontline staff, and said they would force their way in. Museum security personnel closed the entrance in accordance with established safety protocols because the protesters chose not to act safely or peacefully.”

The representative said that two museum security officers were “seriously injured” during the altercation. One was hit with a stick and bitten, the museum alleges, while the other had to be hospitalized after being pushed into a revolving door. 

“The Museum will always act to protect the health and safety of our staff and visitors,” the representative added. “The actions we saw on Friday are never acceptable and will not be tolerated.”  

MoMA security officers blocking the door to the institution. Courtesy of Decolonize This Place via Twitter.

MoMA security officers blocking the door to the institution. Courtesy of Decolonize This Place via Twitter.

Hyperallergic reported that one protestor, who also worked as an educator at MoMA for eight years, said she was struck repeatedly in the face by a museum security guard. Asked by Midnight Publishing Group News about the incident, Strike MoMA wrote, “We have no additional details about any injuries sustained beyond what the media reported on.”

Strike MoMA was organized in opposition to the alleged “toxic philanthropy” of the museum’s trustees, including Black, who announced in March that he would not seek re-election as the museum’s chairman following a public controversy over his connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. 

Citing the research of MoMA Divest, Strike MoMA’s manifesto targets five museum board members—Steven Cohen, Glenn Dubin, Larry Fink, and Steven Tananbaum, in addition to Black—over their alleged “ties to war, racist prison and border enforcement systems, vulture fund exploitation, gentrification and displacement of the poor, extractivism and environmental degradation, and patriarchal forms of violence.” 

Six more demonstrations are scheduled, happening each Friday until June 11.

In a public statement issued by IIAAF this weekend, the group condemned “MoMA leadership’s attempt to distort the nature of the confrontation at the museum.”

“The supposed threat was a group of artist dissidents, acting in the spirit of creative revolt that the museum loves to celebrate on the walls of its galleries,” the statement went on. “It’s time to put an end to this hypocrisy. Too many in our arts communities have learned to turn a blind eye to the gruesome capture of the art world by financial high-rollers with low morals. It’s not too late to stop the plunder, and remember, the fish rots from the head down.”

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