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Museum of Design Atlanta drives into Midtown

The museum opens this weekend in its new location across from the Woodruff Arts Center on Peachtree Street.

Even before its official Grand Opening Event on Saturday, March 19, the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) has been getting an unprecedented amount of buzz thanks to its move to Midtown.

“It’s amazing how many people have taken notice,” said Brenda Galina, executive director. “We’re here now for two weeks. We would have had the same show downtown and nobody would have cared. It’s really true that ‘location, location’ matters.”

Relocated from downtown to a primo spot on Peachtree Street across from the , “our move couldn’t be to a better location,” Galina said. “It just worked out. We’re crazy lucky.”

The new MODA is housed on the ground floor (and former parking garage) of a building restored by the architectural firm Perkins+Will. While the upper floors house Perkins+Will and the Peachtree Branch of the Atlanta Public Library, MODA occupies 9,000 square feet of street-level space in the building that’s LEED Platinum certified — the highest environmental rating awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

MODA, which first opened 18 years ago as the International Museum of Design (the name was changed five years ago), is the only museum in the Southeast devoted exclusively to design. It hosts an evolving roster of exhibitions showcasing architecture, industrial and product design, interiors and furniture, graphics, fashion, jewelry and more.

“Everything is design, even a functional pencil,” Galina said. “However, especially now that we’re across from the High, we purposefully stay away from paintings, sculpture and things like that.”

The first exhibit at the new Midtown location is Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle. Curated by Joe Remling of ai3, Inc., the exhibition presents a dozen Italian motorcycle designs spanning the last five decades with designs by MV Agusta, Ducati, Bimota and Moto-Morini.

“The genesis of the idea was the design of speed,” Remling said. Ultimately, the focus became Italian motorcycles. “This subject matter is very unique for Atlanta. It hasn’t been tackled before and is just sexy cool.”

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which is located in Birmingham, Alabama, lent some of the motorcycles. “Some are from George Barber’s personal collection — he’s one of the largest motorcycle collectors in the world and has an incredible collection. I’m a fan of his collection and he’s the first one I called," Remling said.

To choose displays, Remling considered available display space as well as how each motorcycle’s design beauty contributed to its functional performance. He said, “It’s really cool to walk out with a new appreciation of what it takes to design these motorcycles and what they’re capable of.”

“We’d thought about this exhibit for the downtown location even before a move to Midtown was in the cards,” Remling said. But the new location boasts a big display window that faces Peachtree Street — which currently houses two motorcycles sure to lure visitors.

The Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) is located at 1315 Peachtree Street. A Grand Opening Event will be held on Saturday, March 19; the museum officially opens for the public on Sunday, March 20. The Passione Italiana: Design of the Italian Motorcycle exhibit runs through June 13. Museum admission is $10; free for members. For more information, visit www.museumofdesign.org.

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