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Our Expansion and Renovation Update Blog

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April 30, 2014

A Story in Three Ls

We enter the final 10 days before reopening with the story of three Ls--labels, lights and lists. Shown above is a visualization of just how many labels need to be installed. That's a pretty big roll of double-sided stickies.

In terms of lights, the crew is on schedule to install a couple thousand bulbs, as seen here, here and here. Our final lighting picture is through the gift shop window.

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Thanks to riggers from CSE our punch list shrank this week. "The Big Man," aka Gaston Lachaise's 1938 bronze "Man," was moved from storage to display. Considering the statue is 8.5 feet tall and weighs 1,100 pounds, it needed to be carefully placed on a wheeled jack and jockeyed into position. It was then surrounded by a steel frame so it could be lifted off the wheels with four chain hoists before being dropped into final position. Under the watchful eye of the director, the bronze was settled into place. Here's how he looks today.

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The next day the same crew was dealing with polished-steel mirrored sculptures. Purportedly needing only four men to install, those men apparently would have to be NFL linemen. We used a crane for safety sake, as shown here, here, here and here. The sculptures by Jeppes Hein will be a sight to behold when we've got them landscaped and perfect. The mirrored geometric shapes, combined with the optics of reflective right angles, will produce shapes in your vision that do not exist in real life.

And finally, shown below is the last bit of work on a Picasso before it goes on the wall. The minimalist frame being installed here was suggested by Picasso experts in Barcelona.

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April 28, 2014

How Close We Are to Finishing, as Told in One Picture

Shown above is an example of the little details that bedevil the end of projects. We had the letters for "gallery." We'll finish the job when we can write "galleries." And we'll take the plastic off the seats before you arrive.

Inside on this Monday we saw cleaning, lighting, and conservation touch-ups in the galleries. Outside areas were being backfilled and/or graded all over the place. In the Memorial Garden, bricks were trimmed for electrical tweaks in a wall, and we started the erection of the ornamental fence. Shown below, the city of Norfolk is putting in a speedbump for us. It'll make it safer to cross between the Museum and the Glass Studio.

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April 25, 2014

Special Thank You Friday, Docent Edition

We've had an attentive bunch of students in attendance over the last couple weeks. Our docents have been attending lecture after lecture in gallery after gallery, soaking up a college class worth of art history and appreciation. After we reopen they'll be leading Gallery Talks and school tours and just generally being enthusiastic ambassadors for great art in general and the Chrysler in particular.

At this stage in our renovation, the art installers are ahead of our lighting specialists, so getting good pictures of the training sessions for docents (and new gallery hosts) was a challenge. So with too-dark apologies to Amy and Diane, here's training with Jeff, with Alex, and with Colleen. It's great seeing the docents back in the galleries, and we look forward to seeing more of them.

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April 25, 2014

The Concrete Guys Work so Fast, It's Hard to do Them Justice

This has been a very stop-and-go project, and just when we start to worry that we'll never get everything finished on time, there's a major burst of progress. Such was the case this week, especially outside with the Memorial Garden restoration and the pouring of our new winding sculpture path. From the front door to the parking lot, the only thing that slowed these guys down was getting the pervious concrete out of the mixer. That's the concrete with the surface texture of a granola bar that lets water drain through. If there's too much water in the mix, it'll flow faster, but will dry too hard and become impervious. All in all, this was a tough week of work that they made look easy.

Things were humming along inside, too. We had docent training, we had registrars doing condition reports and conservators checking and touching up frames. You could tell the progress of the lighting crew by the size of the stacks they left behind.

But we close, as is our custom on Fridays, with a thank you. Our blogger had a picture where he couldn't get the depth of field quite right. Up stepped Liz, one of our helpful gallery hosts, with the iPhone needed to make it perfect. So now we can ask: How do you know when art wants to go back on view? When statues start taking selfies.

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April 24, 2014

Just a Little More Dust to Go

Shown above, when it comes to the plexiglass vitrines that protect our works of art, absolutely spotless is the only standard allowed. Considering the dust kicked up in this project (and still being kicked up today) this can take time.

It's been crowded inside with more training for docents and Gallery Hosts, and while interior construction is all but over, there are still details in odd corners.

Outside, the rapid pace of the concrete guys has been a quite a sight, and we'll have more to say about this spirited crew come Thank You Friday. The biggest milestone this week was getting our front doors back on view. They had been encased in waterproof plywood so the mahogany could be refinished. It was nice to see light shining through what had been darkness.

Shown below, a masonry team that's been on site for nearly a year are down to the final bits of grout and will finish up on Friday. Their attention to detail and relentless dedication to quality has been quite refreshing. In a modern-day, throwaway culture it's great to see things literally set in stone.

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April 21, 2014

On a Beautiful Spring Day, Some Optimism is Allowed

Walk around our grounds and it's easy to see there's plenty of work to do, but truthfully, things are in better shape than first glance might suggest. Outside we were clearly slowed by a brutal winter and a string of rainy days, but a key to completion, the Memorial Garden fountain, is coming together and there's steady progress on our new sculpture walk. Inside, if World War II had Rosie the Riveter, then this project has Lizzie the Lighter, shown above in the Museum Shop. (*Editors note: She HIGHLY prefers Liz or Elizabeth to Lizzie.) And shown below, things are still moving at a quick clip. The bustle isn't for big things, it's for crossing off lots of little things.

As a final note, a fellow doing paperwork told our blogger that he had taken a picture of every person on his crew except him. Well, that was an easy problem to solve. Now if only everything on our checklist was that simple. We're 18 days away.

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April 18, 2014

A Special Thank You Friday, and an End to 638 Days of Construction Fences

The last of the construction fences came down this week, and it was refreshing to remember you could see the waters of The Hague from our front yard. Erosion screens will stay up until all the new sod is down and landscaping work is complete. To that regard, this week saw a path carved for our new sculpture walk, saw a tricky piece of limestone stair trim get installed, and saw work on restoring the Memorial Garden fountain.

Inside, art installation proceeds apace and we might be nearing the end of testing 300+ fire alarms. We still had electricians chasing trouble spots, and when it comes to illuminating thousands of works of art in a huge Museum, well, you have to buy light bulbs by the pallet.

Traditionally we thank the contractors on Friday for all their efforts on their behalf, and we wish them well today—especially those working overtime tomorrow. But today we offer a shout-out to our Gallery Hosts, our innovative, nationally recognized way of helping Museum visitors.

As you might imagine, being a Gallery Host when galleries are closed leads to different duties. And this is a crew that's tackled all kinds of assignments—archiving in the library, working with lighting crews, gift-shop stocking, working at satellite exhibitions—and they've done it all with an unusual level of good cheer. This week they were hauling boxes of furniture into Huber Court, assembling tables and chairs, and readying for weddings or other big crowds. Shown below is a sight for sore eyes. We're wiring up and readying the Welcome Desk in Huber Court. We're 21 days away from reopening, and when you come visit, look for the people in the pale blue sweaters. They'll take good care of you.

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April 17, 2014

A True Thing of Beauty. Some Assembly Required

It was one of the first items we moved to protective custody once we started our remodeling—a Baccarat 24-light candelabrum. It's a model first shown at the 1878 Paris World's Fair, though this one was made ca. 1888-1914. Over the last couple of days, Molly and Melanie have been working methodically to reassemble more than 800 carefully numbered and labeled pieces. It's a cut-crystal masterpiece, and it's just a few more hours away from being ready for our May 10 reopening.

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April 16, 2014

Endless Details, and Moving From
Sweating to Shivering in 48 Hours

Shown above, as masons work their magic the colored tabs provide a quick way to identify spaces of a quarter, eighth or sixteenths of an inch.

On the outside of the building, dust is flying, site work continues on the Memorial Garden and concrete is breaking near the front door.

Inside, we've re-purposed hundreds of light cans for new circuitry, installed new fire alarms in the theatre, and made great progress stocking the gift shop.

As the construction crews have dwindled, our blogger has been shaking hands on their last day and personally thanking them. Our blogger is not a slight man and he knows the value of a firm handshake. He's also been getting his fingers crushed. These are strong men who have left good work behind.

Shown below is an example of the many small details involved in reopening. Our team has not only conserved many paintings, they've even double-checked and touched up some of the frames.
 

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April 11, 2014

Wrapping Up The Week With a Thank You Friday

Shown above, as seen from above, is the work on our new access ramps—and it gives us a reason to say why we like to close every week with a thank you. For the second time in a month, we've watched a mason decide something wasn't perfect, so he chipped it out, and made it right. That kind of quality, that attention to detail, is really appreciated. Most of the crew will be working overtime this weekend, and we appreciate that, too.

Inside the building, we started on a hostess stand for the new cafe and we chased electrical glitches so the lighting crew could continue their amazing work. When we spotted our conservators in a gallery, we were struck by the ear plugs use to protect against the near-constant testing of fire alarms.

Outside, we can say that applying a finish coat of stucco to a ceiling is messy work. No, make that really messy work.

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April 9, 2014

At Some Point, It Feels Less Like a Construction Zone and More Like a Museum

Shown above is a scene from our revamped glass galleries, which we believe are exactly one piece away from being completely installed. Interior construction is really down to punch list fixes, fire alarm testing and cleaning up pesky electrical issues. Outside we tip our hats to masons tackling a really complex job—laying a diagonal pattern inside an arc. Every piece had to be custom-cut by a water-cooled blade, and after seeing this message on a crewmember's hard hat, we suspected they were getting Divine assistance from upstairs.

Shown below is a scene from this week's docent training. The new porcelain gallery is right inside the theatre entrance. Shooting close to the glass outside door created the reflective effect.

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April 7, 2014

On a Day With a Special Visitor, Busy Times in Huber Court

A local TV anchorman, Tom Schaad of WAVY, is quite a photography buff—and a pretty good shooter, too. He was snapping pix behind the scenes today, and you can see his work here. Also behind the scenes today: attentive people in the building for docent training.

Shown above, as welders tweaked a stairwell railing just off Huber Court, we could see what caught the attention of the young man at left. If it wasn't a painter working high on the walls it was Mike way up high changing bulbs. Huber Court has walls 30 feet tall and will take about 20 gallons to cover. Here's a view of the painting in progress from a comfy bench in our new cafe. We'll have more about Wisteria, our new garden-side eatery, later this week.

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April 4, 2014

How Many People Does It Take To Hang A Painting?

The answer, in a field where mistakes and accidents are never an option, is as many as necessary. That's Crawford Alexander Mann III, our curator of American art, taking the cellphone picture at left. The painting is Thomas Hart Benton's The Arts of Life in America: Unemployment, Radical Protest, Speed, a 1932 tempera on panel painting that's more than 14 feet wide.

Photo by Nancy Oakes, Chrysler Museum of Art.

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April 4, 2014

The Crew is Thinning Out, But It's Still Thank You Friday

It's been a good week here. The big construction is done but there are details to address, and we appreciate all the attention and dedication.

The final stones are being applied to the new front access ramps, shown above, and we saw final caulking on a new garden porch. Air duct installers are finishing things up in staff areas, and electricians are down to alarm testing and chasing shorts. With the dusty days over, merchandise is getting stocked in our Museum Shop, and painting is underway in Huber Court. As proof of how it's a really big job, click here and try to find the painter. We're getting steadily closer to reopening, and as shown below, things are moving fast.

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April 2, 2014

Thirty-Seven Days Until We Reopen.
Now If We Could Only Do Something About Those Fire Alarms

Shown above left, the installation of a laser-based smoke detector in the tall reaches of Huber Court. Shown above middle is a jar of ear plugs—free for the taking—and a fire alarm strobe light going off in the background. Every single smoke detector in the building is being tested with canned smoke, so the alarms are nearly constant. "At this point, I'd rather just burn," said one staffer Tuesday.

Outside, with the arrival of Spring, work has begun on restoring our lawn and gardens, as shown above right with some large piles of topsoil. Actual outside construction is almost 100 percent finished, so Tuesday saw minor touches— some final caulking for some porch trim and some cutting for a new roof drain. It's hard to believe that the north addition looked like this exactly 366 days ago.

Our last linked picture of the day is proof that we're cleaning out a really dusty place. Just look at the scene when we're cleaning the floor cleaner. Shown below is one of the places recently cleaned up. Behind that locked door is our shiny new cafe.

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