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Sculpture Adds to Art Museum Expansion

The newest installation at the N.C. Museum of Art, a sculpture called Collapse, is an ironic comment on the multimillion-dollar expansion the museum is undergoing.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A scultpure named Collapse made its debut Wednesday amid a monumental, multimillion-dollar expansion at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

The sculpture, a 30-foot-long fallen human figure, evokes "ideas of permanence and impermanence, with its human reference," Ledelle Moe, the creator of Collapse, said.

Those ideas behind the installation comment ironically on the expansion under way at the museum.

A new 127,000-square-foot building will house the museum's permanent collection and allow it to accommodate 100,000 more visitors annually. The museum's annual attendance averages 250,000 visitors.

"We're building it to respond to true needs, both of the collection and of the public," Larry Wheeler, the museum director, said.

The museum will be able to host larger traveling exhibits and the crowds they attract, with its permanent collection in another building, Wheeler said.

The museum recently broke attendance records with an exhibit of works by the French master of impressionism, Claude Monet. The Monet exhibit ran from October 2006 to January 2007.

The traveling exhibit drew an average of 2,500 people a day, totalling 214,177 people from all 100 counties in North Carolina, all 50 states and five foreign countries. Fifty-eight percent of the attendees came from outside the Triangle.

Those numbers justify the $75 million expansion, which is being funded by a combination of state, city and county tax dollars, Wheeler said.

"Of course, we'll have enough visitors. We already have more visitors than we can accommodate in our existing facility," Wheeler said.

Once the expansion is completed in the fall of 2009, the North Carolina Museum of Art's campus will be the country's largest art museum park.

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