Our Expansion and Renovation Update Blog
May 13, 2014
Summing Up Nearly Two Years of Work in 8:33
For all the men and women who sweated and shivered, lifted and pounded, scraped and drilled, laughed and cursed, this video is for you. We thank you for turning a gutted shell into a sparkling, brand-new museum.
May 10, 2014
"A Breathtaking Success." And the Doors are Open
Among the dignitaries gathered on this beautiful morning was Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, who told the crowd that our expansion and renovation was "a breathtaking success." After our most loyal supporters cut the ribbon, the doors were opened and your museum was back.
After nearly two years and 27,877 photographs, we sign off with two thank yous. The first is to all the people who made this sparkling new museum possible. The second is to Rosalind, a Museum Member, for her recent handwritten note. "I'm really looking forward to seeing the 'new' museum, but I'll miss the blog. It was wonderful."
May 9, 2014
Some Thank Yous And Some Goodbyes
During the run of this blog, we've traditionally ended the week with Thank You Fridays. While there are lots of deserving people this week (particularly the Flower Guild) we have to tip our hat to the fellows who turned churned up construction dirt into a beautiful garden and a lovely front yard. They worked hard and fast; a tractor-trailer full of sod arrived Friday morning, and by lunchtime it was all down. They'll be back next week to get the rest.
With the official front door Countdown Poster reading one last day, and with most of the work complete, the staff had time to watch the boss on a local TV show and to read visitor feedback posted at our new Response Station during a Thursday night event. We even gathered up some folks to cut down the last Museum Closed sign. Suggestions to burn it down went unheeded.
With Opening Day tomorrow, it was the last day on the job for a lot of hard-working men. Tom has been here through it all, and because of construction upheavals, he's had no fewer than six different office locations. His last day's office was probably the best of all.
Shown below is proof of what we've been saying for quite some time. We'll be working on things right up until the doors open. Thanks for waiting. We'll see you tomorrow.
May 8, 2014
So Close. Oh, So Close
With the official front door Countdown Poster reading two days to go, it was a day of final details and last-minute cleaning. Outside the landscapers and irrigation installers continued their quick work, the final rail was added to an access ramp and shown above, new energy-efficient lighting was installed around The Torchbearers. After a quick bit of wading, the Memorial Garden fountain is back to its babbling form.
Shown below are flowers being readied for a Thursday evening event. Friday is the big party for Members. Saturday is Opening Day. On Sunday we can rest.
May 7, 2014
What a Difference a Day Makes
Yesterday was our first preview event at the Museum, and it was bustling chaos right up until the guests arrived. We're happy to report it was a successful social function. And we're even happier to report that today it was stone quiet in the galleries. We're really, really close to ready.
Outside there was one big project—finishing the irrigation system, and that's a pipe going under a sidewalk shown above. Once the irrigation is in place, the sod can go down, and we'll actually look like a museum instead of a construction zone. In terms of finishing details, the primer on the decorative iron fence got a coat of paint and there was great progress on the Memorial Garden. It was fun to watch the landscaping crew reflected in our new sculptures. Add a trench for new lighting around our Torchbearers statue, and it was a really smooth day. The number on the countdown poster is down to 3.
May 6, 2014
Now Is The Time to Let You in on a Little Secret
With the first of three preview events taking place tonight, the story can now be told. Back in January, when we moved our opening back 30 days, we were actually closer to 60 days behind. But we had a plan and we had dedicated people. If you took all the folks here who, over the last 50 days, have not had more than two days off, you could fill a school bus.
Inside, we made it, or will make it by Saturday. A key component here is preparing labels for the art. Unlike a website, the words about the art are serious scholarship, and more than a dozen people have been involved in label production. And there were thousands of labels to do.
Outside, the combination of a brutal winter and a rainy spring has put us right up against it. We won't cover bare dirt with sod until later this week, though we did start to replant the gardens on Tuesday. As shown below, the crew made a lot of progress in a single day.
Also Tuesday, in galleries where there weren't late fixes or proudly picky it's-got-to-be-perfect conservators, Museum photographer Ed Pollard was working on images for national media outlets. The highlight, however, for the second day in a row, came from the Flower Guild, as they were working on arrangements for our special events this week. Their work is beautiful, and we really missed having them around while we were closed.
May 5, 2014
The Excitement is Building. And Just a Few Jangled Nerves
Ah, the final days of a project. The time to check items off the punch list, to set thank yous in stone, the time to watch a big irrigation system installed with incredible speed.
At this point, no detail is too small for attention, from double-checking the donor board to sharpening the pencils for the Welcome Desk. The art is installed and ready, but there's always time for a touch-up or double-check. For a private event coming up later this week, there were gift bags to stuff, and the Gallery Hosts were on the job.
The star of the day was clearly the orchid wall in Huber Court. Shown above is the installation and that's Linda, a great, long-time supporter of the Museum, watching the work. Here's how it looked going in, here's how it looked once finished, and here's something we expect to see a lot of when we reopen.
In closing, there was a special lunch today in Wisteria, our new cafe. It was a good test run for the cafe staff and a nice thank you for staffers who have been putting in long hours and still keeping up good spirits. The food was excellent, and the wines and craft beers got rave reviews, though maybe that's because drinking at lunch is not a standard practice around here. We also discovered a way to spot a glass curator at lunch. She's the one looking at maker's marks on the bottom of the glasses.
And finally, if you've seen the cover of Coastal Virginia magazine, or any of our reopening ads, you've seen a dramatic picture of our front sculpture at sunset. Well, among the offerings in our stocked-and-ready Museum shop, that statue, The Torchbearers by Anna Hyatt Huntington, has now been immortalized. In socks.
May 2, 2014
Deadline Pressure, Countdown Posters and the Last Favorite Pictures
Not to say that there's intense pressure in getting ready to reopen, but we had a massage therapist on site for a couple days so staffers could get some stress relief.
One example of the tight timeline could be found in the Memorial Garden. The contractor's normal topsoil pit was too wet because of recent rain. So they brought in 18 pallets of topsoil, 72 bags to the pallet, and spread it all in a single day. They'll be working all weekend getting the lawn ready for sod, which is scheduled for next week.
Elsewhere today, we saw labels going up, vitrines being cleaned and glass door protection coming down. Lucky for Jerome, with finally finished galleries, he can do his job in peace.
On a semi-sad note, contractors here know our blogger's favorite pictures include smoke or flame or sparks. With the ornamental fence going up in Mary's Garden, here is, more than likely, the last picture of grinding wheel sparks, and the last welding picture.
Finally, as shown below, training continued Friday for our new Gallery Hosts. When the newbies weren't getting used to their earpieces, learning to love their pale blue sweaters, or learning the computer system, they were positioning furniture in new galleries. We tip our hat to them as this is our traditional Thank You Friday post. The people in pale blue are crucial to the success of Team Chrysler, and we wish them well in their new jobs.