By PATRICIA COHEN
JULY 22, 2014
A rendering of the new Museum for African Art, with its soaring four-story wall, curved ceiling of rare Ghanaian wood and elaborate spiraling staircase, still sits on an easel in an unfinished concrete skeleton facing Central Park.
But those distinctive features and the $135 million budget that would have paid for them have now been shelved. After years of outsize promises and repeated postponements, officials now acknowledge that fund-raising travails have compelled them to scale back the grand design for the museum’s new home on Fifth Avenue.
The decision to cut the budget by $40 million is a potent reminder of the gulf between blockbuster cultural institutions and everyone else. While lavish building projects are planned or underway at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, smaller institutions with similarly heady dreams often can’t sustain them.
They lack the hefty endowments, deep-pocketed board members and global stature that can generally immunize even the most grandiose proposals at larger institutions from economic downturns a