Finally! The Speed Art Museum will open its doors to the public again on March 12, 2016, after a long three years of renovation. It will be open for 30 hours straight, from Saturday at 10 a.m. until Sunday at 4 p.m. We got a sneak peek this week at this impressive new museum. And when we say impressive, consider these statistics:
- It’s a $56 million expansion.
- It was closed for three years.
- The total space is 220,000 square feet.
- The new North Wing is 62,500 square feet and three floors.
- The new South Wing contains a state-of-the-art movie cinema.
- The attendance goal this year is 200,000 people.
- The average yearly attendance before the renovations was around 100,000 people.
The museum isn’t just art galleries. It’s an experience of culture, art and community all in one central location. The museum building itself is a work of art, as you will see below, with the new, modern additions paired with the renovation of the original 1927 building.
When we interviewed Museum Director Ghislain d’Humières last year, he told us what the goals were for this new museum. He wanted this museum to be a “hub of creativity”. A museum is not just a place to visit once a year; it is a cultural center in the community for everyone. We believe he will achieve this goal.
People, and Louisvillians in particular, enjoy the familiarity of their attractions and landmarks. Rest assured that all of the old favorites are still there, and once you get your bearings, you’ll realize that you are in a familiar setting; it’s just had some major improvements. What many people didn’t realize is that only a small percentage of the museum’s entire collection was ever on display at any given time. The majority of the collection was in storage and was rotated out, and some works never made it out of storage at all. Frankly, there was not enough room before to showcase everything, but now, there is plenty of room.
What will you see at the Speed Art Museum?
Curators have been busy the past three years taking inventory, restoring pieces and determining how to display everything in the best way. Curator Miranda Lash sums up what guests will see:
- Art that was on display up until the point the museum closed
- Art that has been in storage and never displayed in public
- Art that has been recently accumulated
- Art that has been commissioned for specific sites (for example, the wishbone sculpture on the front lawn)
Cumulatively, that’s a lot of art. The museum achieved its goal and actually surpassed it. Using some of the new tag lines from the Speed below to guide your tour, here is a look at what you will see starting tomorrow.
It’s Your Speed Art Museum
Conjoining old and new is no easy task. This is the same museum we have all known and loved for almost a century. Now it is enhanced and meant to bring the community together. The goal here is one of inclusiveness. Art is personal and emotional and accessible to all. You do not have to be an aficionado or scholar to enjoy art. Art provokes a very emotional, honest response that no book can teach you.
Explore the Universal and the Personal
Art is both of these things: universal and personal. The Speed wants you to experience art on another level. Rather than just walking through the galleries, looking at the art, they want you to notice:
- How was it created?
- What was its function?
- What technique was used to make it?
- What is the purpose?
- What is the context?
- What is the emotional response to the piece?
The first room in the original 1927 gallery is a testament to this process. Works of art are on display from many centuries, all with a common thread of its creation by a human hand. This gallery is a fusion of everything from ancient to contemporary art.
Experience Art at a Whole New Speed
While you can experience art on a cerebral level, you can experience art on a more tactile level, as well. Head downstairs to the new ArtSparks for an all-encompassing journey for your senses with art. Modeled after the Exploratorium in San Francisco, this is not just meant for kids; rather, everyone is encouraged to come down here to experience the collection. There are areas for “noticing,” “talking” and “making” that will expand your perspective on art.
The Speed now has an app you can download that is called “At Your Own Speed.” You can take a tour via your smartphone with the amount of time you have available, whether that is 30 minutes or three hours. Beacons will also notify you of things in each gallery or at events.
Labels have all been redone and are great resources. Each one tells the name and then the context of the piece, such as how a certain piece was used in a private home or why someone wore a certain piece of decoration.
Eat at Susan Hershberg’s latest restaurant, Wiltshire at the Speed. If you are pressed for time, there is a separate on-the-go food area and coffee bar, with a side entrance for easy entry.
There is a new museum store, located next to the visitor services area. Look for home decor, gifts, books, jewelry and soon … Derby hats!
Delve into the amazing array of films that will be shown in the new, state-of-the-art movie cinema with seating for 142. This is located in the South Building and has its own entrance, which means it is open after the museum has closed, namely weekend nights. There are big plans for this space, all created by curator of film Dean Otto, and we are excited to see them unfold.
We guarantee that when you go to the all-new Speed Art Museum, you will have the same reaction we did when we left: “THAT was worth the wait!”
Click here to keep apprised of all of the 30 hours of nonstop programming. All grand opening events are free. After the grand opening, regular admission will be $12 for adults; $8 for senior citizens, military personnel and children ages 4 to 17; free for children ages 3 and younger. There will be free admission on Sundays.
Photography by Adele Reding Photography
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