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Secrets of the Modern Wing, Take Two

Inside the Museum


Part of the reason that the Modern Wing feels so harmonious is because, well, it is. And the secret behind that lies in one measurement: 6 ¾”, aka the width of the oak floorboards in the Modern Wing. That’s right—everything in the building is based around that one tiny measurement. Of course, not everything in the building is 6 ¾”, but everything is a multiple of that number. To lay it out for you:

6 ¾” x 2 = 1’1 ½”

6 ¾” x 4 = 2’3”

6 ¾” x 8 = 4’6”

6 ¾” x 16 = 9’

6 ¾” x 32 = 18’

Not that I don’t trust the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, but I decided to test this for myself … photographic evidence is below.

Tape Measure indicating the the floorboards at the Modern Wing are 6 and 3/4 inches wide.

Width of a floorboard: 6 3/4”

Photo of panels on the walls of the Modern Wing

Each of the large wall panels is 9’ wide, and dividing each of the panels at exactly 4’ 6” are horizontal poles attached to the lighting fixtures.

Skylights in the Modern WIng over Griffin Court

Also, as you look higher, each of the beams that divide the skylights are also 4’6” apart.

View of Griffin Court showing skylights, lights, and Vivan Suter paintings hanging from the ceiling.

Here’s a view of all of Griffin Court so you can get a better sense of the panels/skylights.

And it’s not just the architecture that follows these rules.

A look at the Modern Wing benches that seem to float an inch above the floor

Here’s a bench in Griffin Court. It lines up with the floorboards exactly, coming in at 2’3”.

Stand for sculpture in gallery of contemporary art

Finally, I headed into the galleries and you guessed it … even this sculpture stand is 2’3” wide. Also, for our loyal readers, please note the “reveal” at the bottom, previously discussed here by Erin H.

As you can tell, everything was just as precise as I expected. So the next time you enter the Modern Wing and wonder why you feel so peaceful, remember it’s all in the math.

—Katie Rahn



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