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Our Renovation/Construction Update Blog


July 25, 2012

Timber! It's Tree-Falling Day, But Don't Worry. New Trees Will Be Planted Once The Construction Work Is Done

Another sad but necessary day for the tree-huggers on the staff.

Three trees near Mary's Garden were taken down to allow access for construction cranes. We're already looking forward to their replacements being planted.

The work presented one bit of irony. The brand of chipper used by the contractors working at an art museum?



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Click image to enlarge. Photo by Ed Pollard.

July 24, 2012

The Evolution Of Our Building

While working on a video depicting all the changes in our building over the decades, we took a detour to build a page outlining all the changes. It's all done in pop-up photos and you can see that page here.

The video won't be ready for weeks, but we thought you might like the preview. Eventually you'll be able to find it on our YouTube Channel.

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A detail from a '50s-era postcard of the Museum of Arts and Science, Norfolk, Va., the forerunner to the Chrysler Museum. Click to see the entire image.

July 19, 2012

A Special Word About The Gardens

For many, it was a very sad day when our two lovely gardens start getting ripped out to provide access for demolition and construction on the front wings of our building. The gardens are now closed to the public, tucked behind the fences, and will be flattened in upcoming days.

We want every gardener, tree-hugger and anyone who enjoys a natural respite to know that there was considerable discussion as to how to handle the existing plants. The idea of digging up the plants one-by-one and trying to save them received a great deal of consideration.

In the end, it wasn't so much a question of construction expense or extra time on a tight deadline. No, the primary problem was the fact that this time of year in Virginia is the absolute worst time to consider transplanting anything. So while a few plants and trees were preserved and/or moved by contractors, many were simply removed and trucked away for disposal.

There's some good news in all of this. NOTHING is going to happen to the magnificent oak trees, and in fact, all construction planning has been designed to work around them. Arborists have been fertilizing and prepping them for a full year to make sure they are healthy and ready to withstand any possible construction shocks.

Also on the good news front, the gardens will be redesigned, replanted and restored before our grand reopening in 2014. And after that reopening, it will be easier than ever to have lunch in Mary's Garden. Our newly remodeled cafe will offer direct access to dining outside.

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The wrought iron fencing around Mary's Garden starts coming down. The garden will be rebuilt and replanted 20 feet farther forward once construction is finished. Click to enlarge.

Come visit.

On the same day the construction fences went up, the internal discussions on how to decorate the fences with great works of art finally wrapped up. We expect the decorations to be in place before demolition gets intense. Click to enlarge. Photo by Ed Pollard.

July 18, 2012

Construction Fences Erected, Fence Decoration Plans Finalized

Construction fences are a necessary evil, considering the health and safety of workers and passers-by. The erosion-prevention screening is very important, too, considering all the industry that used to be in this neighborhood. (Check out this popup for proof!) We're right on The Hague, which goes right to the Elizabeth River, which goes right to the Chesapeake Bay, so we're very serious about protecting our natural environment.

But from these necessities we're going to spring virtues— covering these fences with banners featuring some of the very best art in our collection. Our mission is to bring art and people together, and as we face a year with our main building closed, if we can't get people inside to see the art, we'll let them see it as they drive by.

We ask our patrons, Members, visitors, and friends to please keep reminding people that despite the construction swirling around, our main building will remain open and active throughout all of 2012. We have a great story that's only going to get better, and we thank you for helping us tell it.


How You Can Help

We always appreciate donations, but truthfully, what we appreciate even more is Members. We want the people who support us to come enjoy our beautiful facility, to enjoy discounts on everything from Glass Studio classes to Museum Shop purchases, to enjoy exclusive events and insider access.

Memberships and donations help us keep general admission free. Your support helps keep our school field trips free. You help protect and conserve great works of art. We believe our Museum is part of the art of living, and we invite you to join us on our journey.

Come visit.

When this entrance reopens, wheelchair access will be improved and new climate control features will make Huber Court less drafty in the wintertime. Photo by Ed Pollard.

July 5, 2012

The Main Entrance is Moved

There's a science to studying the movement of people in public places, and one of the reasons for moving our main entrance before construction started was to start this field of study. One of the first things we learned was that when it came to our side entrance, the Kaufman Theatre entrance, moving the Welcome Desk and adapting to people entering was pretty straight-forward. The challenge wasn't guiding people into Huber Court, it was helping those visitors find their way out.

The helpful way-finding process will continue for some time. We've experimented with footprints, and arrows, and we'll even be adding a two-minute lobby video explaining what's going on with all the construction. The bottom line is when in doubt, turn to one of Gallery Hosts (the friendly folks in pale blue), and help will be forthcoming.

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At the close of business, Sunday July 1, the gallery hosts threw open the doors for the last time in a long time, and marked the occasion with this photo. From left, Michael, Karen, Danielle, Jeff, Elizabeth and Robert. Click to enlarge. Photo by Colleen Higginbotham.

Come visit.

Instead of a traditional ground-breaking ceremony, we used tiny shovel-spoons to cut a cake shaped like our Museum. The event was both a project kickoff and a way to honor our outgoing Board Chairman, Macon Brock. Photos by Echard Wheeler.

June 28, 2012

Cutting the Cake and Saying Thanks

This project started with a toast—and lots of thank yous.

The occasion was the last Board of Trustees meeting to be chaired by Macon Brock, and as soon as business was wrapped up, trustees joined Chrysler employees for an event in Mr. Brock's honor.

Many, many people have stepped up to graciously to make this $24 million project a reality, but it's no slight to any of those others to note the incredibly positive impact Mr. Brock, and his wife Joan, have had on this Museum in general, and in this expansion project in particular.

Our building renovation and expansion is the third part of a three-part drive that's been directed by this Board of Trustees for a couple years. We wanted to finance, equip and open a glass studio, and we did. We needed to beef up our endowment to protect against potential financial shocks, and we did. Now it's a $24 million renovation project, and all but a fraction of that money is now in hand.

A well-deserved toast, indeed.

Thanks, Macon.