National Museum of Catholic Art and History


The museum announced on 17 May 2010 that it is closing, and hopes to move to Washington, D.C.

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The National Museum of Catholic Art and History, located in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood, is a museum that focuses on the many facets of Catholic art. It was founded by Christina Cox in 1995.
The museum's original location was in the Olympic Towers on Fifth Avenue, near St. Patrick's Cathedral, a location that allowed the museum to take advantage of other Christmas celebrations in the neighborhood. The museum moved several times, including to locations near Radio City Music Hall.[2 In 2002, faced with increasing rents, the museum moved to its current home on E. 115th Street, the former home of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine which had recently been spared significant damage from a fire. The museum received around four million dollars in grants from New York State, in the hopes that it would help revitalize East Harlem.
The museum was credited with helping to shape and develop the so-called "new Harlem" that was evolving as a result of increased money and the gentrification of the neighborhood. Following an $8 million renovation, the museum also planned an exhibit on the history of East Harlem, acknowledging the role of the church that housed it in the formerly Italian neighborhood that is now known as Spanish Harlem. The museum retains its commitment to the community, participating in initiatives including Harlem One Stop.
According to Christina Cox, the museum's founder, she fulfilled her life-long dream of opening the first Catholic museum in the United States after receiving a blessing from then-Pope John Paul II. The museum has received support from the Archdiocese of New York although there is no connection between the two. Following controversy regarding the museum's status as a charity and its collection of funds, the diocese sought unsuccessfully to have the word Catholic removed from the museum's name.
The museum's diverse collection, which is meant to focus on the many facets of Catholic art, is believed by some to lack a unifying theme, relying instead on whatever donations are available.