Green-Wood Cemetery breaks ground on new $34M Education & Welcome Center
22K sq. ft. facility includes historic Victorian-era greenhouse
GREEN-WOOD — The Green-Wood Cemetery on Tuesday took a major step to further enhance its role as a critical center of the arts, history, architecture, and open green space, when it broke ground on a stunning new $34 million, 20,400 square-foot Education and Welcome Center (the Center). Located across from Green-Wood’s Main Entrance at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue, the two-story L-shaped curtain wall and custom glazed terra cotta construction will wrap around Green-Wood’s beautifully restored nineteenth-century Weir Greenhouse, a New York City Landmark.
Donning hard hats and shovels and with the Greenhouse and Green-Wood’s Gothic Arch in the background, Cemetery President Richard J. Moylan; Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso; Laurie Cumbo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; NYC Council Member Alexa Avilés (District 38); and, Mara Manus, Executive Director of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) launched construction on the Center.
When completed in June 2025, the Center will offer Green-Wood’s 450,000 annual visitors a welcoming space where they can get an introduction to the historic cemetery before exploring the grounds. The space will also house two exhibition galleries for Green-Wood’s extensive art and archival collections; expanded space for Green-Wood’s robust platform of educational events and programs; a new center for scholarly research; staff offices; and meeting and event space for local nonprofits and community organizations. Significantly, the additional indoor space allows Green-Wood to greatly expand its programming to a year-round schedule.
The sustainable design will provide efficiency in water use, a high-performing thermal envelope, low-energy lighting, and environmentally controlled storage for Green-Wood’s priceless collections.
Mr. Moylan said, “Today we mark the start of a new chapter in Green-Wood’s storied history. As we cement our position as a leader in so many disciplines and as an anchor in this vibrant community, it’s only fitting that our neighbors and visitors have a welcoming Center where they can enhance their Green-Wood experience—year-round. We are particularly excited that our new Center will serve all New Yorkers and visitors and especially our neighbors in Brooklyn.”
Mr. Moylan also noted that the project would not be a reality without the strong financial support of so many in government, philanthropy, and the private sector. To date the project has received $4.1 million in State funds and $13.3 million in City funds. He also singled out the Green-Wood Trustees, led by Chair Peter Davidson, for their unwavering commitment to the Center.
Mr. Davidson said, “There’s no other place in the world like Green-Wood. Its natural beauty, history, contemplative landscape, and role as a center of learning are unparalleled. This new center will allow us to share Green-Wood with an ever-larger audience of Brooklynites, New Yorkers, and visitors from around the world.
“Green-Wood Cemetery is not just the permanent residence for so many of our City’s historic luminaries, it’s also a nature reserve, an arts center, and education institution, all in one,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Cumbo. “With the creation of this new Education and Welcome Center, Green-Wood will be able to welcome even more visitors to experience its one-of-a-kind grounds and programming. We are proud to provide a substantial City investment in this exciting project on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
Borough President Reynoso said, “The Green-Wood Cemetery has been a peaceful and beautiful open space in Brooklyn for nearly two centuries,” said . “Now the stunning Education and Welcome Center will exhibit the unique and deep history of the Cemetery and the countless lives it has touched for all to learn about. I’m excited to celebrate this building and for visitors to be able to fully appreciate this unique place.”
“I am so delighted to see Green-Wood Cemetery break ground on their new Education & Welcome Center. When completed, the center will become a tremendous addition to our culturally rich District and serve residents from across the district and the world. Green-Wood has done tremendous work to solicit community input on this project and I cannot wait for the day when we cut the inaugural ribbon on this facility,” said Council Member Avilés.
“NYSCA is so pleased to provide $2 million in support of this exciting new Education and Welcome Center,” said Ms. Manus. “Green-Wood is the green space that inspired New York’s rich system of public parks almost 200 years ago. We are thrilled to support this project, which will continue Green-Wood’s important legacy as a place to gather, find inspiration, reflect, and learn.”
Architecturally, the Center’s focal point is the greenhouse, exquisitely restored by Page Ayres Cowley Architecture, LLC and Walter B. Melvin Architects. The new building was designed by the New York City-based firm, Architecture Research Office; the landscaping surrounding the building was done by Michael van Valkenburg and Associates; and C&G Partners are designing the exhibition gallery, greenhouse interior, and visitor welcome experience in the main lobby. Combined with the Greenhouse, the Center’s square footage will total 22,000 square feet.
The project has received more than $18M in federal, state, and local support. Funders include the National Endowment for the Humanities, New York State Council on the Arts, New York State Regional Economic Development Council, New York State Assembly, Office of the Mayor, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and the New York City Council.
Moylan expressed his deepest appreciation and respect to all those whose financial support made the Center possible. He also extended his gratitude to the numerous local nonprofit and community organizations whose input was invaluable during the planning process.
About Green-Wood: Established in 1838, The Green-Wood Cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, is recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. As the permanent residence of over 570,000 individuals, Green-Wood’s magnificent grounds, grand architecture, and world-class statuary have made it a destination for half a million visitors annually, including national and international tourists, New Yorkers, and Brooklynites. At the same time, Green-Wood is also an outdoor museum, an arboretum, and a repository of history. Throughout the year, it offers innovative programs in arts and culture, nature and the environment, education, workforce development, restoration, and research. For more information, please visit www.green-wood.com.
Here’s what everyone is saying about the Education and Welcome Center:
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight: “The Green-Wood Cemetery is core to the history and identity of Brooklyn, and we honor its legacy with the groundbreaking of the new Education and Welcome Center. With an immersive experience that will breathe life into the stories of the past, the Center will inspire visitors and attest to Green-Wood’s enduring importance, both now and for generations to come.”
New York State Assemblymember Robert Carroll: “I am proud to support Green-Wood’s new Education and Welcome Center. Green-Wood’s historical, environmental and artistic treasures are more alive and accessible to our city’s school children than ever. I encourage everyone in Brooklyn and beyond to discover this incredible urban jewel that’s equal parts art museum, arboretum, historic landmark and final resting place.”
New York State Senator Iwen Chu: “I’m thrilled to see the Green-Wood Education and Welcome Center open as a resource for families and communities across Brooklyn. Children and school groups will have access to exhibition galleries, classroom, and multipurpose space within the greenhouse. Greenwood’s educational programs and diverse community outreach will have a new home. Thanks to Green-Wood and all government partners for creating this vital space for the community.”
New York State Assemblymember Marcela Mitaynes: “It’s so exciting to see this important project break ground. The Green-Wood Cemetery is a historic fixture of our community where we should come together to expand education and culture. The new Green-Wood Education and Welcome Center will be a valuable resource for engaging with our neighborhood’s history. I want to congratulate all those involved in the tireless effort to bring this project to fruition. I look forward to bringing the community to Green-Wood and Green-Wood to the community!
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