In 1999, necessitated by The Gramercy International Art Fair’s mounting popularity and the corresponding need for a larger, more formal venue, the fair migrated to the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, and hosted 74 galleries. It was in this year that The Armory Show acquired its present-day name, chosen in homage to the legendary 1913 exhibition of the same name—and held at the same venue—that famously showcased avant-garde works by European artists previously unseen in America.
As the fair continued to grow in stature and size, the need for a new location spurred a move to Manhattan’s West Side, making its new home in yet another historic part of New York City. The Armory Show’s arrival at the Piers signaled an important turning point for the fair, cementing it as a critical event on the international art world calendar.
"THE ARMORY SHOW ACTUALLY IMPROVED UPON THE NEW YORK ART SCENE AND CONVINCED COLLECTORS THAT YOUNGER, EMERGING ARTISTS REALLY WERE VALID."— Lisa Spellman, Gallerist
In fact, Armory Arts Week, as the week is now known, would develop into a citywide program of concurrent art fairs and events that highlight the diverse cultural offerings of New York's arts scene.
"We were young, ambitious and wanted all of New York to participate, so we called on the vibrant arts community around the entire city to join forces to support our mission, and that is how Armory Arts Week was born. I'm very proud to have been part of this exciting story!"—Katelijne De Backer, former Executive Director, The Armory Show
In 2001, The Armory Show and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York announced the creation of the Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Acquisition Fund, and the fair dedicated its opening day to the Museum, signaling an important partnership in the fair’s history. To this day, The Armory Show’s close relationship with MoMA is a hallmark of the fair’s identity. At this time, the fair began collaborations with important and internationally recognized artists such as Gabriel Kuri, Theaster Gates, Liz Magic Laser, Pipilotti Rist, John Waters, and Mary Heilmann, who each produced a commissioned artwork to benefit MoMA.
"It was a natural evolution to form a partnership with MoMA and that started while I was still President of the Museum. The Armory show has long cemented its status as one the world’s pre-eminent art fairs, drawing a diverse audience of art-enthusiasts, collectors, academics and professionals to New York City and is a significant and wonderful attraction for our city"— Agnes Gund, President Emerita, The Museum of Modern Art