'The Times' to make way for Titanic

Stop Press

Once it was the pressroom of The New York Times, a dirty, cavernous sub-basement where huge machines shook the building above. Now it will be a home to the glamour of King Tut and the Titanic.

Two years after The Times left its longtime headquarters on West 43rd Street in Manhattan, the basement of that building is being converted into a 60,000-square-foot space for large-scale exhibitions of art and historical artifacts. Called Discovery Times Square Exposition, it will open on June 24 with two shows, ‘Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition’ and ‘Lucy’s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of Ethiopia,’ featuring the 3.2-million-year-old fossil remains of the female hominid known as Lucy. ‘Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,’ an expanded version of the show that has been touring North America since 2005, is to open next spring.

“It is a museum-quality venue,” said James Sanna, president of Running Subway Productions, which will operate the space in a tourist-packed area.

The enterprise is a partnership between Running Subway — a New York production company whose projects have included the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Annex NYC — and the Discovery Channel, which will contribute video to the shows and share in marketing and other expenses, said Tom Cosgrove, Discovery’s chief operating officer.

Running Subway has taken out a 20-year lease and spent “tens of millions of dollars” on construction since spring 2008, Sanna said. The Times sold the building in 2004 and moved into its new tower, a few blocks away on Eighth Avenue, in mid-2007.

The new Times Square space will also allow exhibitors to avoid the restrictions of museums. The King Tut exhibition was turned down by many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, because its organisers wanted to charge additional admission fees. Each show at the Discovery Times Square Exposition will cost $19.50 for adults and $17.50 for children.

The Times was last printed in the building in 1997. (It is now produced for the New York region in College Point, Queens.) But Sanna said Discovery Times Square Exposition would preserve some of the pressroom’s industrial look. “It may have been grimy,” Sanna said, “but it had a raw beauty to it.”

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