Weisman begins renovation

The $14 million project will add five new galleries.

Stacey Battenberg

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs Weisman Art Museum began renovations last week for its $14 million expansion project. The new facilities are scheduled to be completed by fall 2011. The approximate 8,100-square-foot addition will feature five new galleries, which will allow the museum to show twice as many collection pieces than can currently be on display, Weisman spokesman and events director Christopher James said. Four of the five new public galleries will be devoted to showing more of the WeismanâÄôs collection of nearly 20,000 artworks that are currently in storage, museum director Lyndel King said. Two of the four collection galleries will feature American art, while the other two will be dedicated to ceramics and works of art on paper and photographs. There will also be space added for the Target Studio for Creative Collaboration , a fifth gallery that will allow artists and designers to collaborate with people from a variety of disciplines at the University for special projects, King said. The Target Studio is a major contribution because it will bring many people at the University into contact with artists âÄúthat they probably wouldnâÄôt think of working with otherwise,âÄù she said. âÄúIt will be interesting to see what they add.âÄù The project construction was set to begin in 2008, but was delayed when plans emerged to add a light-rail line down Washington Avenue through the UniversityâÄôs East Bank, James said. The planning process was put on hold until road construction could be coordinated with the museumâÄôs addition. More than $10 million in funds for the project were raised from individual and corporation contributions, King said. The University supplied $2 million in matching funds and roughly an additional $1 million to cover the costs of rebuilding the pedestrian bridge near the museumâÄôs front entrance. No funding for this project came from legislative bonding, King said. The museum will be closed to the public starting fall 2010 and wonâÄôt reopen until the projectâÄôs completion the following year, James said. Limited public programming will continue to be offered while the Weisman is closed. The WeismanâÄôs expansion was designed by Frank Gehry, one of the worldâÄôs most famous living architects. Gehry designed the WeismanâÄôs existing facilities that were built in 1993, which made him the ideal person to design the buildingâÄôs expansion, King said. âÄúIt would be really hard to think of choosing anybody else add on to [the Weisman],âÄù she said. Patricia Hampl , a RegentsâÄô professor of English, uses the museum regularly to plan and organize events such as conferences, lectures and readings. âÄúItâÄôs a very dynamic organization that is inviting for the arts, but also for many other events,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs very hard to imagine the campus without it.âÄù Hampl said she is looking forward to finding new ways to use the added space to further enhance the relationship between the University and the Twin Cities community. The Weisman is âÄúone of those places that people in [Minneapolis] feel connected to, and we like to have people connected to the campus,âÄù she said.