It’s been a long three years since the Speed Art Museum shut its doors in 2012 down on the University of Louisville’s campus to embark on a $50 million renovation and expansion. Designed by Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY, which also designed the Grand Rapids Art Museum in Michigan, the only LEED-certified art museum. This structure seamlessly blends the old and the new, where the original 1927 building sits adjacent to the new building, set to open in March 2016, with a glassed-in “bridge” between them. In all, this renovation and expansion involves a new North and South Building, with an outside art park and public piazza. Additionally, inside the walls will be the addition of three floors of gallery space, a 142-seat cinema, a pavilion for performances and Wiltshire at The Speed, an indoor/outdoor cafe.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Rendering from the front view | Image: Speed Art Museum

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Artist’s rendering of the side entrance view | Image: Speed Art Museum

Recently, the Speed hosted The Big Reveal, which was a sneak peek inside the museum for upper-level members and donors. The museum was devoid of any art and very much in the raw. Guests were treated to entertainment, including a laser light show and a silent disco, all while sipping on the finest bourbons from Heaven Hill Distillery and Brown-Forman.

This new section of the museum, even without any art in it, is simply stunning. With more than 500 guests, the museum was full, without being crowded, and with multiple gathering spaces, there were many places to congregate and explore.

The North Building, where the party was held, is 62,500 square feet. Surrounded by glass, with more than 400 panels of glass in total, the building is completely transparent on the lower level. At night, the museum literally glows from within. With the addition of this building, the gallery space in the museum will be triple what it was before.

We had the privilege of touring early that Saturday morning, before the guests arrived. Louisville, consider this your sneak peek into the museum. Allow me to guide you on our tour:

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Actual side entrance

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The gift shop faces the outside and is located directly adjacent to the main visitor entrance.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

This view is as you walk into the new building and view the old building as the sun rises.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Construction is going at a steady pace, on track for the grand opening in March 2016.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Look closely at the windows to see the flecked metallic pattern that runs throughout. This pattern is supposed to resemble rain, and the pattern actually reflects light, protecting the art from harmful rays of the sun.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The stairway leading to the second floor is transparent, giving the illusion of floating, with a view of the outside. At night, the steps are backlit. They also contain a heating element that keeps out condensation.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The second and third floors are devoted to gallery space.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

This second-floor gallery space was set up for the laser light show for that night.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

A view of two stairways: one down to the first floor and one up to the third floor

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Skylights abound in this building, and the natural light illuminates the entire structure as a result. This view is looking up at the third floor stairwell and roof skylight.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Skylight in the hallway

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Even the freight elevator is centrally located and brightly colored yellow. It seems like a piece of art, as well.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The first floor is home to the performance pavilion, with garage-style doors that can open up to the outside.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Garage-style door that opens to the outside

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The ceiling is maximized for acoustics.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Check out the view from the pavilion upward to the second-floor terrace. It’s a perfect venue for events.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Located around the corner from the pavilion is the restaurant. This will be a grab-and-go area.

Here are some pictures from The Big Reveal, so you can picture people in this space. To see the entire photo gallery, click here.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Here’s the view from above, on the second floor, looking down to the main floor below.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

Even the freight elevator is a good space to hang out.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The open stairway is backlit at night.

A Sneak Peek at The New Speed Art Museum

The silent disco in the Performance Pavilion was a big hit.

Here are the details about the museum’s reopening. Leading up to the reopening, the museum hosts the Speed Ball on March 5, 2016. Tickets to this black-tie gala event go on sale soon. The museum opens to the public on Saturday, March 12, 2016, starting with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony. After that, it will then be open for 30 hours STRAIGHT, with events and activities scheduled for that whole time, until Sunday, March 13, at 4 p.m.

Earlier this year, we spoke to Director Ghislain d’Humières about his dreams and goals for the new and improved Speed Art Museum. He wants this museum to be a “hub of creativity,” and he wants to change people’s perceptions about what a museum is. It is not just a place to go visit once a year; it is a place to experience, along with the entire community. Art knows no boundaries, and we are all excited to be a part of this new cultural treasure.

Check out the photo gallery of the Big Reveal here: styleblueprint.com

Keep your eye on all the great programming between now and the opening at the Speed’s website, speedmuseum.org.

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