Art museum closes to prep for expansion

Posted September 5, 2009 6:11 a.m. EDT
Updated September 6, 2009 6:32 p.m. EDT

— Visitors hit the North Carolina Museum of Art on Sunday for a last look before the museum temporarily closes its doors for seven months.

The museum closes starting Monday to prepare for the opening of its new gallery building next spring.

The 127,000-square-foot expansion, which will house the museum's permanent collection, is scheduled to open in mid-April.

The nearly $84 million renovation and construction project is designed to allow in natural light to keep energy costs down but protect the work from being damaged.

“We think it’s going to create a beautiful new home for the permanent collection. It’s going to allow us to showcase a lot more works of art than this building has,” said museum spokeswoman Alesia DiCosola. “There’s going to be light-filled galleries, outdoor gardens to showcase the connection between art and nature.”

During the seven-month hiatus, art handlers will move and install more than 750 works of art into the new galleries. Many works will go into the conservation lab to be treated, cleaned or reframed.

“We have dedicated art handlers, conservators and they have to move every single piece into the new building,” DiCosola said. “And they can’t just go outside. We have a tunnel underground that connects the two buildings that is climate controlled.”

The lobby of the current building will undergo renovations at the same time.

“We are thrilled to be entering the final phase of our expansion project, and as we prepare for this grand transformation, we have a unique opportunity to expand our reach by bringing programs to the community and connecting with the people of our state in new ways,” museum director Lawrence Wheeler said in a statement.

“I think it’s tranquil, peaceful and there are some great pieces in here,” visitor Bob Brodney said on Sunday.

Museum officials said the 164-acre Museum Park would remain open during the seven-month period, and the summer series of movies and concerts in the amphitheater would continue
uninterrupted through the end of September.

The museum also will present Museum on the Move, a series of lectures, films, concerts, family programs, and other offerings in the park and at venues throughout the Triangle.