About the Armory

Part palace, part industrial shed, Park Avenue Armory fills a critical void in the cultural ecology of New York, supporting unconventional works in the performing and visual arts that cannot be fully realized in a traditional proscenium theater, concert hall, or white wall gallery. With its soaring 55,000 square-foot Wade Thompson Drill Hall and an array of exuberant period rooms, the Armory enables a diverse range of artists to create, students to explore, and audiences to experience epic, adventurous, relevant work that cannot be done elsewhere in New York.

When the pandemic set in, the Armory dedicated itself to continue to provide support to the artistic community. By taking advantage of the vast expanse of the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the Armory created a very safe Social Distance Hall, for which it commissioned four new works by Bill T. Jones and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company; David Byrne, Christine Jones, and Steven Hoggett; Jason Moran and Laurie Anderson; and Robert Icke. The works were presented between March and July 2021 and provided thousands of hours of creativity and employment to a devastated cultural sector, which had lost 70% of its job base.

Programmatic highlights from the Wade Thompson Drill Hall include Ernesto Neto’s anthropodino, a magical labyrinth extended across the Drill Hall; Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s harrowing Die Soldaten, in which the audience moved “through the music”; the event of a thread, a site-specific installation by Ann Hamilton; the final performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on three separate stages; an immersive Macbeth set in a Scottish heath with Kenneth Branagh; WS by Paul McCarthy, a monumental installation of fantasy, excess, and dystopia; a radically inclusive staging of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion staged by Peter Sellars and performed by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker; eight-time Drama Desk-nominated play The Hairy Ape, directed by Richard Jones and starring Bobby Cannavale; Hansel & Gretel, a new commission by Ai Weiwei, Jacques Herzog, and Pierre de Meuron that explored publicly shared space in the era of surveillance; FLEXN and FLEXN Evolution, two Armory-commissioned presentations of the Brooklyn-born dance activists group the D.R.E.A.M. Ring, created by Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and Director Peter Sellars; Simon Stone’s heralded production of Yerma starring Billie Piper in her North American debut; The Let Go, a site-specific immersive dance celebration by Nick Cave; Satoshi Miyagi’s stunning production of Antigone set in a lake; Sam Mendes’ critically acclaimed production of The Lehman Trilogy; and the Black Artists Retreat hosted by Theaster Gates, which included public talks and performances, private sessions for the 300 attending artists, and a roller skating rink.

In its historic period rooms, the Armory presents more intimate performances and programs, including its acclaimed Recital Series, which showcases musical talent from across the globe within the intimate salon setting of the Board of Officers Room; the Artists Studio series curated by MacArthur “Genius” and jazz phenom Jason Moran in the newly restored Veterans Room, which features a diverse array of innovative artists and artistic pairings that reflect the imaginative improvisation of the young designers and artists who originally conceived the space; and Interrogations of Form, a public talks program that brings diverse artists and thought-leaders together for discussion and performance around the important issues of our time.

Among the performers who have appeared in the Recital Series and the Artists Studio in the Armory’s restored Veterans Room or the Board of Officers Rooms are: Christian Gerhaher; Ian Bostridge; Jason Moran; Lawrence Brownlee; Barbara Hannigan; Lisette Oropesa; Roscoe Mitchell; Conrad Tao and Tyshawn Sorey; Rashaad Newsome; and Krency Garcia (“El Prodigio”).

Highlights from the public programs include: symposiums such as Carrie Mae Weems’ day-long event called The Shape of Things, whose participants included Elizabeth Alexander, Theaster Gates, Elizabeth Diller, and Nona Hendryx; a day-long Lenape Pow Wow and Standing Ground Symposium held in the Wade Thompson Drill Hall, the first congregation of Lenape Leaders on Manhattan Island since the 1700s; salons such as the Literature Salon hosted by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, whose participants included Lynn Nottage, Suzan Lori-Parks, and Jeremy O. Harris, and a Spoken Word Salon co-hosted with the Nuyorican Poets Cafe; and most recently, 100 Years | 100 Women, a multi-organization commissioning project that invited 100 women artists and cultural creators to respond to women’s suffrage.

Current Artists-in-Residence at the Armory include two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning playwright Lynn Nottage; Obie winner and Pulitzer short-listed playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and Carmelita Tropicana; Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and the D.R.E.A.M. Ring; singer and composer Sara Serpa; Tony Award-winning set designer and director Christine Jones and choreographer Steven Hoggett; and Mimi Lien, the first set designer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. The Armory also supports artists through an active commissioning program including such artists as Bill T. Jones, Lynn Nottage, Carrie Mae Weems, Michael van der Aa, Tyshawn Sorey, Rashaad Newsome, Julian Rosefeldt, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, and others.

The Armory also offers creativity-based arts education programs at no cost to thousands of underserved New York City public school students, engaging them with the institution’s artistic programming and outside-the-box creative processes.

The Armory has undertaken an ongoing $215-million renovation and restoration of its historic building designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron, with Platt Byard Dovell White as Executive Architects.

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.

As of February 10, 2021