Local News

N.C. Museum Of Art Outgrowing Current Building

Posted February 23, 2005

— Art can be more than a sculpture or a painting. The buildings where the art is displayed can be pieces of art too. That is the idea behind a proposed multimillion-dollar expansion project at the

North Carolina Museum of Art

.

When the Matisse, Picasso and The School of Paris exhibit came to the North Carolina Museum of Art, some days were so crowded, people had to be turned away. Museum Director Larry Wheeler said five new buildings with new galleries could help. It would come at a cost of about $75 million.

"There are many activities that occur around the art museum and we are trying to embrace all of those and create an environment and setting with the focus still being great galleries for future collections," he said.

Leaders said it is one example of how the museum is outgrowing the building. The Egyptian collection is now in an area that was supposed to be public space.

Both Wake County and the City of Raleigh list their combined $15 million portion of the funding as top priorities. It would come from food and beverage tax money not being spent on the convention center.

This week, Wake County Chairman Joe Bryan and Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker recommended both boards approve funding. Both are expected to vote within a few weeks.

"We are a growing community. We can have both -- good roads, water and sewer, parks, but also have facilities for art," Meeker said.

The state has already provided some money. Museum leaders hope to have a decision from the General Assembly about the rest of the money -- $50 million -- later in the session.

Even if the project is approved, it will not be ready in time for the next big exhibit. In the fall of 2006, artwork by Claude Monet will be on display. The museum is considering extending its hours to make sure everyone can see it.

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