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Crowds awed by new N.C. Museum of Art

Posted April 23, 2010
Updated April 24, 2010

— After several years of construction, the North Carolina Museum of Art and its new addition will reopen to the public Saturday, but festivities kicked off Friday with a grand celebration.

Web only: N.C. art museum's ribbon-pulling ceremony Web only: N.C. art museum's ribbon-pulling ceremony

About 800 people lined up for a members-only showing of the addition. CBS Early Show weather anchor Dave Price broadcast live from the event for a national audience, and a ribbon-cutting was held at 9:30 a.m.

"People are awestruck, really," said Caterri Woodrum, the museum's deputy director.

"When you go in, you feel like you've been somewhere, and that it's part of a big city," museum visitor Bee Brakebill said. "It feels like the real deal."

The museum’s new west building has 360 skylights, 40 galleries and five gardens surrounding 127,000 square feet. About half the building is made of glass.

“One of the core ideas from very early on was to make a place that was very transparent,” said Dan Gottlieb, director of planning and design for the renovation.

Photos: Inside the N.C. Museum of Art

Tickets for the public opening this weekend were snapped up quickly. Late Friday afternoon, only about 200 tickets remained for a tour at 9 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday tours were sold out.

General admission is free, but timed tickets were being issued to keep the museum from becoming overcrowded at any one time, Woodrum said.

N.C. art museum celebrates expansion N.C. art museum celebrates expansion

"If you show up, we will work you in. We are not going to turn anyone away this weekend," she said.

The museum grounds, showcasing sculptures by Auguste Rodin and other artists, and outdoor events, including numerous dance and musical performances, have unrestricted access and are also free.

(Get more information about the museum's Grand Opening Festival.)

Woodrum recommended the Rodin works as "must-see" elements.  She added, "Almost every section of our collection has a new item."

Museum officials said the seven-month renovation was an effort to showcase the museum’s wide-ranging permanent collection, which spans 5,000 years of history.

“I think you get a sense that, all of a sudden, the works of art are the performers. They’re the stars of the show,” museum Director Larry Wheeler said.

The new building's design lets in sunshine in a way that designers say has never been seen in a museum, where art works typically are protected from light. The building has protective elements such as ultraviolet filters, louvers and three layers of curtains. Sensors tell shades to drop when the sunlight is too bright.

"Wonderful lighting. I think that was the thing I noticed most," museum visitors Gail and Ron Dellinger said. "(It's) a wonderful improvement over the old one. It really is wonderful."

The renovations, which also include a restaurant and shopping area, cost about $86.2 million, according to officials. The project received $73 million in public money.

"It's unheard of for a public investment of this magnitude to take place in the name of the arts in this country," Wheeler said.

Museum leaders' plans for the future aren't slowing. They have kicked off a campaign to raise $50 million from private donors by the end of 2013 and, so far, have gathered $26 million toward the goal. The funds will support the museum's endowments, programs, grounds and general operations.

"North Carolinians will look back on this important partnership and realize they were part of an unbelievable, transformative moment for the museum and our state," fund raising campaign chair Ken O'Herron said.

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  • rbarham3 Apr 23, 2010

    I believe I saw Wake County Commission Chairman, Tony Gurley in the picture of the officials participating in the ribbon ceremony. You listed the names of them all, except one...... Commissioner Gurley. Interesting.

  • See Chart Apr 23, 2010

    Most of the museums expenses ,as with most art institutions goes
    into the overhead and not to living or important dead artists .

    I wonder how many artists from NC will be bought for the museum?.
    I fear none,not unless they make it in NYC first.

  • Ewan McTeagle Apr 23, 2010

    Name ONE such event that was held at the expense of the taxpayer. colliedave

    -------

    Sure, I can name more than one. There was a monster truck show at the RBC Center in January, and there's been about one a year there in prior years. There wouldn't be an RBC Center if local taxes hadn't covered about $90 million of the arena's construction costs. Taxpayers continue to pump millions of dollars into the RBC Center annually for maintenance and upkeep. So basically, every monster truck show at the RBC Center (not to mention every hockey game, basketball game, and concert) is put on, in no small part, at the expense of the taxpayer.

  • ratherbnnc Apr 23, 2010

    This place is very kid-unfriendly. The security guards followed me everywhere when I brought my 2 young children there a few years back. I haven't been back since.
    signothefish

    Its called Protecting assets. Many parents have a habit of turning their kids loose in places with expensive exhibits like wild animals on a hunt. Some of the museums downtown will do the same thing. You would be surprised how many kids are left unchaperoned and cause damage.

  • ratherbnnc Apr 23, 2010

    Read the above comment carefully BECAUSE that is what is to become of all of the "government cradle to grave" people...just like people with disabilities, when you are "dependent" on the "good graces" of the "government" for even your most basic needs...you will soon find yourself "AN OBJECT" of scorn, ridicule and BUDGET CUTS.

    I can't wait for the day when some Progressive has their electricity shut off because the government needs the money for a new Monet....all I can say is...enjoy the darkness!
    affirmativediversity

    That is surely not the view of most Progressives as you call it. It sounds more like a Republican or Tea Partier's view about cut, cut, cut..

  • affirmativediversity Apr 23, 2010

    We shouldn't have public libraries either. Books? What purpose do they serve? Get rid of public parks too, people have backyards don't they? And who really cares about the disabled? No one in my family is a crip, so let them fend for themselves per unbroken

    -----------------------

    Read the above comment carefully BECAUSE that is what is to become of all of the "government cradle to grave" people...just like people with disabilities, when you are "dependent" on the "good graces" of the "government" for even your most basic needs...you will soon find yourself "AN OBJECT" of scorn, ridicule and BUDGET CUTS.

    I can't wait for the day when some Progressive has their electricity shut off because the government needs the money for a new Monet....all I can say is...enjoy the darkness!

  • Unbroken Apr 23, 2010

    We shouldn't have public libraries either. Books? What purpose do they serve? Get rid of public parks too, people have backyards don't they? And who really cares about the disabled? No one in my family is a crip, so let them fend for themselves.

  • signothefish Apr 23, 2010

    This place is very kid-unfriendly. The security guards followed me everywhere when I brought my 2 young children there a few years back. I haven't been back since.

  • G-man Apr 23, 2010

    I appreciate art. Collect it too. Would collect more of it if I could get someone else to pay for it. I don't figure I'll complain though. At least the money spent didn't go in the welfare fund.

  • affirmativediversity Apr 23, 2010

    I wonder how many in home personal care attendants for the disabled this all cost?

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