The International Center of Photography is on the move again. A year after settling into a $23.5 million exhibition space on the Bowery, the center announced that it will pack up and head to Essex Crossing, becoming the cultural anchor of this Lower East Side complex and uniting the institution’s museum and school.
The I.C.P. Museum will move into Essex Crossing in early 2019, while the school, which serves more than 3,500 students a year, will move that summer. The 40,000-square-feet space will have a glass facade, with the galleries visible from the street.
It’s been a winding path for the museum, which lost its rent-free home in Midtown in 2014 and at times struggled to attract visitors. The museum on Monday said it had an estimated average yearly attendance of 100,000 a year, down from 165,000 in 2014.
It moved to the Bowery last year and modified its focus to embrace digital media. “This institution, so often ahead of the curve, has other, challenging ideas on its mind, and the less it acts like a museum the better,” Holland Cotter wrote in a review of a show there last year.
Mark Lubell, the I.C.P.’s executive director, said that even in its previous move, the institution was seeking ways to rejoin the museum with the school. He hopes that a free-flowing collaboration will push the institution to further modernize and capture a younger audience. “We looked at the Bowery as a bit of a test case, so we could experiment and try different things,” he said. “And for an institution that wants to be relevant and engaged in current conversations, having the students there as a constant voice is very, very important.”
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