Weisman closes doors for construction

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The Weisman Art Museum has been keeping its doors open for the first phase of its expansion and renovation. That will change this Sunday, when it shuts down for a year.

This Sunday the Weisman Art Museum is shutting its doors to the public and taking down the last pieces of art in preparation for the next phase of its expansion and renovation.

LyndelKing.jpgThat phase will take approximately a year; Director Lyndel King says the museum plans to re-open in November of 2011.

However the museum will open to the public just once more this winter, this December, for a closing party that will allow museum lovers to do some things they normally never get to do in a museum. Like draw on the walls… or drink red wine.

Yesterday afternoon I was treated to a hard-hat tour of the new sections of the building now in progress, including a new collaboration space meant to serve as an incubator for projects that involve both artists and other non-arts-related university departments. That space juts out of the front of the building, and will be covered by a typical Frank Gehry shiny metallic drapery that will almost completely protect students walking in front of the museum rain or snow.

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New gallery space

The most exciting part of the tour was checking out the expanded gallery space on the East side of the building. The rooms are monumental in size and will double the number of objects the Weisman can display at any given time.

And what appears from the exterior to be jauntily placed boxes on top of the Weisman’s roof are actually new skylights, which add dramatic natural lighting.

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Weisman Art Museum’s expansion features two large skylights.

The next phase of construction is expected to finish in May 2011, after which the building will need to sit empty for a while as the new floors off-gas, and the new paint smell fades away.

Surprisingly, the date of the museum’s re-opening has yet to be set, not because of construction, but because of the University of Minnesota’s fall football schedule.

Director King says the museum is obliged to wait and see what Saturdays are taken up by home games; due to campus policy the museum’s parking lot is forced to shut down on those Saturdays, making a re-opening celebration infeasible.

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