Part palace, part industrial shed, Park Avenue Armory fills a critical void in the cultural ecology of New York by enabling artists to create—and audiences to experience—unconventional work that cannot be mounted in traditional performance halls and museums. With its soaring 55,000-square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall—reminiscent of 19th-century European train stations—and array of exuberant period rooms, the Armory offers a new platform for creativity across all art forms.
Having served as the former home of the Seventh Regiment, Park Avenue Armory has transformed into a groundbreaking cultural institution that blurs the boundaries between high art and pop culture. Since 2007, the Armory has organized a series of immersive performances and installations that have drawn critical acclaim and popular attention working independently or collaborating with other cultural institutions. Among the highlights of its first six years are: Aaron Young’s Greeting Card, a 9,216-square-foot “action” painting created by the burned-out tire marks of 10 choreographed motorcycles; Bernd Zimmermann’s harrowing Die Soldaten, in which the audience moved “through the music;” the unprecedented six-week residency of the Royal Shakespeare Company in their own theater rebuilt in the drill hall; a massive digital sound and video environment by Ryoji Ikeda; a sprawling, gauzy, multisensory labyrinth created by Ernesto Neto; the event of a thread, a site-specific installation by Ann Hamilton; the final performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company across three separate stages; and the New York Philharmonic performing Karlheinz Stockhausen’s sonic masterpiece Gruppen with three orchestras surrounding the audience.
The Armory’s 2013 season included Karlheinz Stockhausen’s electronic masterpiece OKTOPHONIE in a lunar environment created by Rirkrit Tiravanija; WS, by Paul McCarthy, a monumental installation of fantasy, excess and dystopia; The Machine, Matt Charman’s new play depicting chess phenomenon Garry Kasparov’s clash with IBM’s Deep Blue; Massive Attack V Adam Curtis, an immersive multi-sensory experience mixing music, film, politics, and moments of illusion; and Robert Wilson’s powerful new staging of The Life and Death of Marina Abramović. The season also featured the ongoing Under Construction series with Armory Artists-in-Residence presenting works in progress, and the debut of a recital series staged in the Armory’s exquisite Board of Officers period room, allowing audiences a rare and intimate opportunity to hear chamber music the way it was originally meant to be experienced, with performances by baritone Christian Gerhaher, violinist Vilde Frang, and pianist Anton Batagov.
Concurrent with the development of its artistic program, the Armory has undertaken an ongoing $200-million revitalization of its historic building, named in 2000 among the “100 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the World” by the World Monuments Fund. Designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, the multi-year project reinvigorates the Armory’s original design while stabilizing, preserving, and renewing the building for future generations. Past and recent work includes the restoration of the Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue façades and the main entrance, encompassing a rebuilt and restored front staircase, a new copper mansard roof, and a restored original 1879 cast-iron fence; the installation of state-of-the-art systems in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall to accommodate a range of visual and performing arts productions; and the revitalization of two historic period rooms on the second floor. During the 2013 fall season, the Armory reopened its Board of Officers Room , one of most important historic rooms in America and one of the few remaining interiors designed by Herter Brothers, which has been revitalized and transformed into intimate space for small-scale performances, recitals, and installations.
To learn more about programming at the Armory, Arts at the Armory page.
To learn more about the history of our interiors, download our interiors guide.
Thompson Arts Center
at Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065