Galapagos Art Space Leaving Dumbo and Moving to Detroit


Galapagos Art Space is moving out of Dumbo and moving to Detroit. The NY Times first published the announcement yesterday stating the high rental prices prompted Robert Elmes, Galapagos’ founder and executive director, and wife Philippa Kaye to consider other areas and decided to move Galapagos to Detroit ( In an email from Mr. Elmes, he told DumboNYC:

New York City has simply become too expensive for us to be able to function as an art space and be effective at our mission growing emerged artists to the mid-point of their career. We looked very hard for a new space in New York City and simply couldn’t come up with one. We saw rents that were simply astronomical. $70 to $100 a square foot wasn’t uncommon. That was shocking. To have been out of the real estate market for so long it was very depressing to try to get back in to it. I think that’s a fear we all have, that we’ll loose our lease or decide to move or be forced to leave an apartment. We answered the question of where we would go by having to go as far as Detroit.

We asked him what his best memories were at Galapagos Dumbo. “Best memory of Galapagos? It’s odd, but when you asked that I remembered the ending of a Tobias Wolff short story where the character is dying and wonders what the last thought he will have is, and he thinks of baseball. When I think of Galapagos in DUMBO I think of our kite flying program for kids on Saturday mornings in Brooklyn Bridge Park at the end of our block. We called it the DUMBO Kite Flying society and I was always touched by how many little kids, city kids, had never flown a kite before, and how happy the parents were that to give them that experience.” Galapagos has always focused on the creative community as well as the neighborhood it serves. With over 7,500 events over 7+ years, Galapagos drew over a million people.

Galapagos started in Williamsburg Brooklyn as a bar and performance space in 1995 and moved to Dumbo in 2007. The former horse stable on 16 Main Street in Dumbo was transformed into a 10,000 square foot performance venue and has a 1600 square foot lake within the seating area of the space.

Our best memories of Galapagos are the people who run events at the space (like the Floating Kabarette, Gumbo folks or Tina of Creative Mornings or Andrew of DigitalDumbo) and Mr. Elmes’ generosity in sharing the art space.

According to a Gothamist post, Two Trees confirmed that they would keep the 16 Main building for the arts: “UPDATE: Two Trees sent us this statement, “We will keep 16 Main as a building for the arts. Two Trees has long supported and promoted the art and cultural community in DUMBO with free and below market rents and we will continue to do so. We wish Galapagos all the best moving forward in Detroit.””

{Galapagos Progress on Main Street, 27Nov2007}
{Galapagos Moves From Williamsburg to Dumbo, 30May2007}
{After Nearly 20 Years, Brooklyn’s Galapagos Is Moving To Detroit 08Dec2014, Gothamist}
{Galapagos’s Robert Elmes Discusses Move From Brooklyn To Detroit 09Dec2014, Gothamist}