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February 20, 2015

N.Y. Art Museum Linked to Bible Studies Seen at Risk

A $300-million property deal in New York has created financial uncertainty for a museum of religious art that occupies space in the recently sold building, writes The Wall Street Journal. The Museum of Biblical Art has been paying $1 a year in rent to its landlord and former parent organization, the American Bible Society, but now faces annual bills of $1-million to $1.5-million if it wants to stay in Manhattan.

As part of a planned move to Philadelphia, the 199-year-old society sold its headquarters near Central Park to a private developer. Mobia, as the museum is known, started as an art gallery in the building but was spun off a decade ago into an independent and secular institution that examines the Bible's influence on Western art.

The museum has an annual budget of $5-million. With the society's departure, Richard P. Townsend, Mobia’s director, said that the "nub of the issue really is not finding a place. It's affording a place.”