The Institution That Helped Put Brooklyn On The Art Map Is Moving To Detroit


The Galapagos Art Space, a performance center and cultural staple in Brooklyn for nearly 20 years, will close this month because of rising costs in New York and move to Detroit, Colin Moynihan reports in The New York Times.

The news adds to the international cultural buzz that appears to be growing around Detroit. In October, a techno mogul from Berlin said he is considering opening a club in the city.

Moynihan writes Galapagos helped put Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on the art map when it opened there in 1995 as a bar and performance venue; it moved to Dumbo, another Brooklyn neighborhood, in 2007, occupying a former stable equipped with an interior 1,600-square-foot lake surrounded by what its organizers called an “operatic-style mezzanine.”

In Detroit, over the past year, Executive Director Robert Elmes and his wife, Philippa Kaye, have bought nine buildings totaling about 600,000 square feet in Corktown and in neighboring Highland Park, paying what he described as the price of “a small apartment in New York City” for the properties.

The main building appears to be the abandoned APAC paper structure behind the Michigan Central Station, according to Lowell Boileau on DetroitYES!. Boileau also writes that the building Elmes bought in Highland Park is the old high school, on Glendale and 2nd.

The centerpiece of the new Galapagos will be a 10,000-square-foot lake, Elmes told The Times, and he is planning about 16 months of renovation work before opening. Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder; the state’s Economic Development Corporation; and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation have been supportive of the project, Mr. Elmes said, adding that Galapagos is planning to start a Detroit Biennial in 2016.

During its time in Brooklyn, Galapagos produced more than 7,500 events that drew a total of more than a million people. Those events included musical performances, burlesque, films, variety shows, performance art and visual art.

There was a series called “Nerd Night” with science lectures and beer, and another called the “Floating Kabarette,” a weekly circus that included aerialists, jugglers and contortionists. The venue has hosted a lavish costume ball inspired by the novel “Alice in Wonderland” and a fund-raiser for a nomadic bookmobile associated with an underground publisher called Autonomedia.

Eames told Moynihan: One of the places where “young artists and thinkers” appeared to be gravitating, he said, was Detroit.

Last month, the Berliner behind the famous Tresor techno club told The Wall Street Journal he is eyeing the old Fisher Body Plant on Piquette, near I-75 and I-94, for a local music club.


Top: Inside the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn.

Above left: Handout from Robert Elmes of a Detroit warehouse he bought. It's west of the abandoned Michigan Central Station, between 18th and 19th streets, just north of Mexican Village restaurant, according to Lowell Boileau, founder of Detroit:YES!, reports.

Read more:  The New York Times

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