Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) has thrown open their doors at 1315 Peachtree Street to debut a sleek new space and attitude. After national design firm Perkins + Will offered the new location to MODA in early 2010, the museum quickly snapped up the opportunity and opened soon after in February of this year. An appropriately sophisticated exhibition, Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle and flashy new program offerings break in the space while updating MODA’s personality.
Along with its auspicious location directly across Peachtree Street from the High Museum of Art, MODA’s new space boasts curb appeal and a polished interior space. Where their former site at Peachtree Center was disjointed, spread out over several glassed rooms and scattered across two floors, MODA’s improved layout accurately represents their reputation for seamless design. The four gallery spaces stream into each other with every utilitarian inch crafted to best display exhibits without distraction, creating a fluid and concise experience.
The building vastly improves upon MODA’s ability to provide visitors with continuous progression of exhibits and informational signage. Exhibit explanations previously difficult to read during a successfully crowded opening are now reborn as luxurious touch screen displays, video projections, and broad swaths of wall area ripe for interpretation.
“We want to be a museum that involves people and engages them so they’re not just standing and looking,” explained MODA’s associate director, Laura Flusche, during a phone interview last week. “We want people to feel as if MODA is a part of their lives.”
MODA’s relocation provides them with a rare opportunity to redefine their image. Midtown’s central residence brings a new mix of local clientele and guests previously unfamiliar with the former location in Atlanta’s deserted downtown. Staring the High Museum right in the eye elevates and legitimizes the space, which will help propel the museum into a more critical spotlight.
Flusche continues, “We have been thrilled by the public response. We feel like the new popular kid on the block. We are very visible now; it’s making a huge difference.”
Thankfully, MODA has no intentions of transforming into a mini High Museum. There has been discussion on a joint ticket between the two institutions, but when asked about the possibility of MODA tailoring their exhibition schedule to coincide with the High’s, Flusche said they haven’t discussed that yet.
“We’re trying to put together a schedule that brings design exhibits to Atlanta that wouldn’t come otherwise,” she explained. “We want to have furniture, fashion, and at some point some architecture … to show how broad design is and how it affects our everyday lives.”
MODA christened their new space with a chic and unique exhibit, Passione Italiana. “It’s racy and sexy and could help us define a little bit about who we are,” said Flusche. Passione Italiana, curated by Joe Remling, showcases rarely loaned motorcycles from the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham.
Eleven motorcycles, displayed through the three main show spaces, utilize the new interpretation opportunities through projected race footage and a wall-length time line detailing the history of Italian design. Racing uniforms worn by well-known international competitors and enlarged photo panels detailing key design elements supplement the motorcycles, creating a balanced, didactic exhibit.
Along with the slick new show, the museum introduces a Thursday evening Drink in Design event to coincide with the High’s later Thursday hours. MODA invites visitors to explore the space and exhibition while enjoying drinks, appetizers, and supplemental programming. MODA has welcomed the chance to collaborate with other artistic ventures such as Atlanta’s Dance Truck and hopes to do more. They plan to introduce a monthly program called Design Conversations where designers are invited to come give an informal lecture about their work.
MODA’s new programs and convenient location may quickly thrust MODA into Atlanta’s cultural spotlight. Judging from MODA’s agile curriculum and delivery so far, the High Museum of Art has just gained an impressive neighbor.
The exhibition, Passione Italiana, continues at the Museum of Design Atlanta through June 13, 2011.