LIGHT SOURCE
Wallpaper|May 2021
Cultural hope springs eternal as Salon 94 opens the doors on its new Manhattan space
PEI-RU KEH

At a time where most art galleries and institutions are still oscillating between the real world and a virtual one, the contemporary art and design gallery Salon 94 has doubled down on in-person viewing with the unveiling of a new home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Located in a palatial, six-storey building built between 1913 and 1915 at 3 East 89th Street, the neo-Renaissance structure originally served as an exhibition hall, library and entertaining space for the philanthropist and scholar Archer Milton Huntington, and as an artist’s studio for his wife, sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. Designed by architect Ogden Codman Jr, who counted both the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers as clients, the building was created as an extension to the Huntingtons’ residence on Fifth Avenue next door.

In 1941, both properties were donated to the National Academy of Design, who used it as a museum and exhibition space until 2016. (They also built a third additional building next door.) These were put on the market as a whole, but ultimately sold separately, with Salon 94’s founder Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn buying 3 East 89th Street for a cool $22.3m in June 2019.

‘My husband had seen the buildings on the market. This last one available was the middle building of the National Academy. We walked in and I immediately thought it would make an amazing gallery,’ recalls Greenberg Rohatyn, an Upper East Side local. ‘We walked out and I actually didn’t bring it back up for a month or so, because when we’re looking at spaces together, it’s always with an eye to move, especially when our children leave home. Thinking of a space as a gallery involves an entirely different muscle. That’s what started in my head and I couldn’t let it go.’

With its rusticated limestone base, tan brick façade and elegant piano nobile, the building is hard for any art dealer to resist. ‘In the room on the second floor, which we call the Stone Room, you could really see the potential,’ she says. ‘To have a column-free space with so much ceiling height, and on the Upper East Side, is rare, as is the porte-cochère entrance.’

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