Governors Island Gets Its First Year-Round Home For The Arts

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A permanent arts center opened on Governors Island last week, becoming the 172-acre site’s first year-round tenant dedicated to arts and culture. The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) has transformed a 19th-century warehouse into a 40,000-square-foot space for arts and educational programming. LMCC partnered with the Trust for Governors Island on the $12 million renovation, with designs from PEI Cobb Freed & Partners and Adamson Associates Architects. Historic details of the building were retained while enabling space for galleries, studios, rehearsal space, and an indoor cafe.

LMCC’s Arts Center features an artist residency program, giving 17 artists year-round studio space. The center’s inaugural season will include programs associated with sustainability and ecology, including exhibitions by Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina, Michael Wang, and the Take Care Series.

“As the island’s first permanent cultural tenant, LMCC will provide a vibrant space for art creation and enjoyment for Governors Island visitors,” Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, said in a press release. “Moreover, the center will have an outsized role in giving artists and audiences from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to participate in the City’s thriving arts scene.”

The arts center will be open Thursday through Saturday to the public seasonally until Oct 31., keeping with Governors Island’s public season. Artists in the residency program will be able to use the space year-round.

The arts center’s opening is a step forward in the city’s decade-long plan to turn Governors Island into a 24-7 community. Last August, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration began the public review process for rezoning 33 acres on the southern half of the Island, aimed at spurring development. While residential development is prohibited because of a federal deed restriction, student housing and hotels are permitted.

Currently, the only year-round tenants on Governors Island are LMCC and New York Harbor School. A year-round destination spa, QC Terme, is expected to open in 2021.