Elsie McCabe Thompson was a advocate of her husband’s narrowly unsucessful campaign against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. When ever she talked to reporters she made sure to talk about a something dear to her heart: the Museum for African Art. After more than ten years of Mrs. Thompson’s determination toward a impossible quest, she is preparing to open the museum’s new $95 million home on upper Fifth Avenue next spring.
“Maybe I’m just contrary,” she said during an interview this month, “but the more people tell me it can’t be done, the more I want to prove that it can.” Mrs. Thompson has emerged as the increasingly visible president of the 26-year-old museum as it completes an unlikely journey from a temporary office in Queens to Manhattan’s cultural center stage.
On Fifth Avenue between 109th and 110th Streets, the museum will occupy the lower floors of a 19-story condominium designed by Robert A.M. Stern and will extend New York’s Museum Mile uptown into Harlem. The limestone-colored building, with window mullions that lyrically evoke the weave of African baskets, will become a high-profile showplace for one of the only two major American museums devoted solely to African art. (The other is the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art in Washington.)
Courtesy of Kate Taylor at The New York Times
Photo Courtesy of Fred R. Conrad of The New York Times