The New MOMA: Museum of Modern Art reopening after 4-month renovation, expansion

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The Museum of Modern Art, known as MOMA, has completed a $450 million expansion and renovation that forced the famed venue to close for four months.

The museum re-opens to the public October 21, but on Thursday, members of the media got their first look at the new MOMA -- and I was lucky enough to be there.

It's clear this is a new day -- and a new way of living up to its reputation as the world's finest collection of modern and contemporary art.

"You just sit there and go 'Wow,'" MOMA Director Glenn Lowry told me inside one of the new galleries. "It was so much better than anything I had imagined."

You will find iconic works by the giants of modern art: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, and Jasper Johns. But for every Picasso, there is a work by the likes of Faith Ringgold, an African-American artist inspired by him.

"By bringing two different artists together, you always get a new conversation and one that allows you to see each of those works in a new fresh way," Picasso specialist Ann Umland said.

The new wing extends into a new skyscraper next door and provides 40,000 square feet of additional gallery space, a 30% increase. The idea is to make better use of the museum's permanent collection that has remained in storage and out-of-sight.

It is so vast, says Lowry, "There are masterworks here that we were unaware we had."

Each floor represents a different era in art, and the works will change regularly in rooms that have themes. It also feature a multi-media approach, so films play next to paintings, architectural pieces next to photos, for example.

In the original building, the famed Bauhaus stairs look just as they did when the museum opened in 1939, but the dramatic entrance is new and so is the entire experience of visiting MOMA.

"And that means a lot more art, seen in more ways and different ways than we've ever been able to show it before," Lowry said.

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