No art museum is more influential than New York’s Museum of Modern Art. And Glenn Lowry, in 17 years as director, has remade MoMA by greatly expanding its collection and physical space, solidifying its financial position and providing a defining New York cultural experience for three million people a year. Mr. Lowry also has been responsible for the largest expansion in the museum’s history. He oversaw a massive capital campaign, strengthened the museum’s endowment (you can thank him for that $25 admission fee) and arranged the merger with P.S.1, giving New York its favorite, coolest new exhibit space—and a reason for Manhattan art snobs to trek out to Long Island City. While other museums were laying off staff and cutting costs, Mr. Lowry presided over the $858 million rebuilding of the original MoMA space, resulting in the dramatic new glass and granite edifice at West 53rd Street by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi.
Like many of the influential New Yorkers on this list, Glenn Lowry has courted controversy and criticism. By what other means can a big institution in the biggest city move with—and ahead of—the times? The scope of Mr. Lowry’s vision, his outspoken advocacy for contemporary art and his determination to keep MoMA growing—in size, capital and collections—makes him one of the most dynamic figures in the contemporary art world.