On Tuesday the Metropolitan Museum announced that it will be undertaking the first major renovation of its Fifth Avenue plaza between 80th and 84th streets in over four decades, which could begin as early as this fall, and is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2014. The new plaza, designed by Philadelphia-based architects Olin—whose past public plaza designs include little things you might’ve heard of like Bryant Park and the Washington Monument—will feature smaller fountains, much more seating, and new trees but, weirdly, no new space for outdoor sculpture installations. Which is a shame, because there are at least 10 sculptures from the museum’s collection I can think of that would make great additions to the Met’s new plaza.
Donald Lipski’s “The West” (1987): Have you seen all those terrible people who get their picture taken with the Wall Street Bull’s balls? This would be the Met’s version of that.
Alexander Stirling Calder’s “Man Cub” (1901-1902): This albino bronze tyke is the creepiest kid ever—set him loose and watch freaked out real children instantly become better behaved. (Also, “man cub” is my new favorite synonym for child.)
Deborah Butterfield’s “Vermillion” (1989): A nice Modern spin on classical equestrian sculpture, the only trick with this one will be keeping kids from climbing on it. That’s what “Man Cub” is for.
Mia Westerlund Roosen’s “Memories II” (1984): This is just a really beautiful sculpture and I want to see it taken out of storage. I’d also like to see a pigeon perched on its perched pigeon-shaped top.
Robert Arneson’s “Ground Zero” (1983): I look forward to watching inattentive tourists stumble over this and freak the fuck out.
Rachel Whiteread’s “Untitled (Pair)” (1999): Both solemn, sad and weirdly romantic, I think people would respond very well to this work outdoors. Or they’d take it for a pair of weirdly high benches.
Willie Cole’s “Next Kent tji wara” (2007): This sculpture made of bright pink children’s bicycle parts belongs outside—although keeping museum-going cyclists from chaining their bikes to it might be difficult.
Louise Bourgeois’ “Eyes” (1982): Have you seen all those terrible people who get their picture taken with the Wall Street Bull’s balls? This would be the Met’s second version of that. (It’s also one of the funniest sculptures by a sculptor whose sense of humor many viewers seem to miss.)
Alberto Giacometti’s “Tall Figure” (1947): Given the prices Giacometti sculptures fetch at auction these days, this would probably the most valuable public sculpture in the city. I’m fairly confident that the number of people getting photographed posing next to it would also generate the next art world meme: Tall Figuring (like planking, but vertical).
All right, Metropolitan Museum, the ball’s in your soon-to-be-renovated court.
Follow Benjamin Sutton in Twitter @LMagArt
(All images courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)