Rendering courtesy Koko Architecture + Design

Newly designed area to be reimagined as an active learning center for children and their caregivers

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that the Nolen Library in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education will be redesigned as a multi-purpose, active learning center that will be free for children and their caregivers. Scheduled to open in early 2023, the renovated 3,500-square-foot area will be called the 81st Street Studio in Nolen Library, and will reimagine how the Museum can inspire exploration of its encyclopedic collection, amplify curiosity, and create new experiences specifically designed for The Met’s youngest visitors. The Museum has selected the New York-based firm Koko Architecture + Design for the $5-million project. 

The 81st Street Studio in Nolen Library is made possible by Alexey Kuzmichev and Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya.

Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art said: “Educational initiatives are fundamental to The Met’s mission, and the Museum is deeply committed to finding new and meaningful ways to serve our communities and audiences—including our youngest visitors. This imaginative and deeply informed design creates a magical place that invites children to learn and connect with The Met collection, each other, and the world in a multifaceted and fully immersive way. We’re enormously grateful to Alexey and Svetlana for making this important project possible.”

Heidi Holder, The Met’s Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education, commented: “The 81st Street Studio in Nolen Library is a catalyst for The Met to reimagine the way children and their caregivers can engage with materials and art through play-based activities that encourage exploration and support science learning. The Studio will introduce children to the diversity of artistic expression and inspires them to be fearless as they engage with art and culture in our galleries and in their communities.”

Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya added: “Alexey and I believe strongly that art and creativity are an essential means for young people to experience and understand the world around them. I am delighted to support a project that will encourage young visitors, as well as their caregivers, to explore materials and techniques, to appreciate the many artistic traditions that abound worldwide, and to reap the many benefits of life with art.”

The 81st Street Studio in Nolen Library will be an interdisciplinary, multi-sensory drop-in discovery and play area that supports science learning in everyday life through art and materiality. Designed for children ages 3 to 11 and their caregivers, it will offer dynamic digital and analog experiences that encourage making, investigation, critical thinking, problem solving, and appreciation of the diverse dimensions of materials and their properties. Drop-in activities and self-directed art-making projects will be available during Museum hours, along with scheduled storytelling times—a beloved tradition in Nolen Library—led by Met staff. Bluecadet, an experience design firm, is serving as a strategic design partner and will be producing interactive media for the space.

About The Met’s Department of Education 
The Met’s Department of Education—dedicated to making art meaningful and accessible for everyone—is central to the mission of the Museum. The Met is a national and international leader in museum-based education and public programming, pushing boundaries through continuous innovation and experimentation. In-person and virtual programs include high school and college internships that promote career development and diversity; PreK–12 educator programs that train teachers to integrate art into curricula across disciplines; lectures and symposia that feature preeminent artists and scholarship; daily tours in multiple languages, and more. 

About The Met’s Libraries
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s unparalleled resources for research welcome an international community of students and scholars. The ambition of The Met’s 1870 charter—to establish and maintain a museum and library of art—is fulfilled through several specialized collections of reference books, rare books, journals, auction catalogs, and other material, both analog and digital, reflecting the Museum’s encyclopedic range. The holdings in The Met’s libraries are meant to be used to advance research and learning in all areas of the history of art.  The children’s books from the Nolen Library will be retained in the new space, and the reference books have been moved to Watson Library.