International Center of Photography Set to Close Its Midtown Museum

The renowned photography museum and school has reached the end of its lease.

New York's International Center of Photography at its 6th Avenue location in 2009. Photo by Jim.henderson, public domain.

The International Center of Photography will be closing its Midtown museum. Executive director Mark Lubell confirmed this to artnet News in a statement. Its lease with its landlord, the Durst Organization, is coming to an end in January 2015, and the center has not renegotiated a new lease. Currently the organization, which includes a photography museum, school, and research center, is on the lookout for a new space for its museum.

At our request for an interview, Lubell issued the following statement. “The International Center of Photography has been and continues to be at the center, both nationally and internationally, of the conversation regarding photography and the explosive growth of visual communications. In advancing this conversation, ICP has decided to move its current museum to a new space. This decision reflects the evolution of photography and our role in setting the agenda for visual communications for the 21st century. ICP will announce our future sites this spring. The school will remain at 1114 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.”

The museum, which was founded in 1974, has been at its Midtown location, in the ground floor retail space, since the 1980s. According to Jordan Barowitz, director of external affairs for the Durst Organization, the ICP has been a tenant of the Durst Organization since 1968 (when the ICP was known by its earlier name, the International Fund for Concerned Photography).

The sum that the ICP pays, he said, is and always has been nominal during the time of institution’s tenancy with Durst. “They only pay operating expenses and don’t pay rent,” Barowitz said, though he refused to go into detail about the terms of the ICP’s current lease.

The organization’s leadership has been in transition over the past couple of years. When executive director Mark Robbins stepped down in November 2013, after only a year-and-a-half in the position, Lubell (former director of Magnum Photos from 2004 until 2011) assumed the position the same month.

Robbins, who took up a new post as the president and CEO of the American Academy in Rome in January 2014, had succeeded long-time director Willis “Buzz” Hartshorn, who had led ICP since 1994, ushering it into a golden period. During his tenure, Hartshorn led a capital campaign raising over $20 million to finance the institution’s 1999 to2000 renovation of its Midtown location—a 17,000-square-foot space designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates—and the creation of a 27,000 square foot Midtown campus for the school in 2001 across from the museum.

The museum also saw an expansion of its operating budget during Hartshorn’s leadership from $6.5 million in 1995 to $17 million by 2010. During the 2011 to2012 fiscal year, the last year for which an annual report is available, ICP reported revenues of $15.7 million. The school, which is not on the same lease, will remain at its current location of 1114 Sixth Avenue.

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