Very exciting news for the worlds of street art and graffiti: Jersey City’s Mana Contemporary will be opening the world’s only urban art museum later this year. As much as I detest the term “urban art,” I’ll excuse Mana on this one because there is no good term for a museum that will include both street art and graffiti. So, The Mana Museum of Urban Arts it is. If this sounds familiar, it should, because Mana Contemporary announced plans for a street art museum in January, but at that point, details have been skint. Now, we know the museum’s curators, and they provide some major reassurance that Mana Contemporary will be doing this right.
I love the museum’s curators: Logan Hicks and Joe Iurato. Logan has been a friend since before Vandalog started, and he’s been one of my most valued guides to the art world and life in general. More importantly, he’s an underrated curator who is in the perfect place (at least within the street art world) to curate this museum. Logan actually introduced me to Joe’s art a few years ago. Both are hard-working guys with a great respect for street and and graffiti. I’m sure they will do a great job with this project.
The Mana Museum of Urban Arts opens this September in a 100,000-square-foot former ice factory in Jersey City, NJ.
From the press release:
The Mana Museum of Urban Arts’ mission includes: showcasing contemporary street artists from around the world through rotating interior exhibitions, large-scale exterior murals, and through an artist billboard; documenting and preserving historically significant works with a permanent collection and media center; educational outreach; and fostering creativity and community among artists through workshops, artist studios, and public works.
Of course, there’s the question of whether such a museum should even exist, maybe it signals the death of “urban art.” I like Mana Contemporary Eugene Lemay’s response to that question in an interview with Hrag Vartanian at Hyperallergic:
This sounds to me like a question coming from a place of fear. The idea is not to institutionalize the artwork, but to create a platform for learning about its rich history, increase accessibility, and build a gathering place.
Sounds good to me. I’m all for an institution making sure that the increasingly complex history of street art and graffiti are preserved. And definitely check out that entire interview. Lemay also says that there will be a free wall area where anyone can paint.
Congrats to Mana Contemporary, Logan Hicks and Joe Iurato. This could be something pretty amazing and important. See you in September!
Photos by Logan Hicks