Chrysler Museum to Open Expanded and Renovated Building in April 2014
Redesign of the Museum’s Public Spaces and Exhibition Galleries Will Showcase Nationally Recognized Collection and Support New Interpretive Strategies and Initiatives
NORFOLK, Va. – (June 5, 2013) – In April 2014 the Chrysler Museum of Art will open its renovated and expanded facility, designed to showcase the Museum’s nationally recognized collection and support new exhibition strategies and educational programming. The project includes the redesign and refurbishment of the Museum’s 210,000 square-foot interior and the addition of two new wings flanking the Chrysler’s front entrance.
The wings will house galleries for the Museum’s notable collection of American and European painting and sculpture, and will provide 30 percent more gallery space for the Chrysler’s glass collection—which is considered to be one of the finest in the world. New spaces for special glass exhibits—as well as a new glass study gallery—will be created. The ancient worlds galleries and the modern and contemporary art galleries will be reconfigured and expanded, with additional spaces to display the Museum’s growing collection of new media pieces and 21st-century works.
The project is the latest phase of the Museum’s $45 million capital campaign, which includes:
• Growth of the endowment to support the Museum’s expanded operations and ensure long-term financial stability
• The $24 million expansion and renovation of the Museum’s main building, opening in spring 2014
• Creation of the new Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, which opened in November 2011.
To date, the Museum has raised more than 95 percent of its overall campaign goal of $45 million.
“Our building project is the latest component of the Chrysler’s ongoing commitment to providing our visitors with experiences that delight, inspire, and transform,” said Bill Hennessey, director of the Chrysler Museum of Art. “We began by adopting free admission, by retraining our security staff as Gallery Hosts, by rethinking fundamentally the way we present and interpret our collections, and by creating our dynamic Glass Studio. Now our community and visitors to Norfolk will be able to enjoy our extraordinary collection in beautifully expanded and modernized galleries.”
The expansion and renovation will foster cross-disciplinary initiatives spanning the Chrysler Museum of Art’s collection areas and different venues—its main Museum building, the Glass Studio, and the two historic homes the Museum administers. In a recent example of this type of project, this past March the Museum invited artist Beth Lipman to work in the Glass Studio to create a site-specific installation for the Museum’s late-18th-century Moses Myers House. Lipman worked with the Glass Studio staff and members of its Studio Assistantship program to create hundreds of clear-glass objects based on actual objects on view in the House, as well as interpretations of the lives and history of the Myers family, blurring the line between past and present, artifact and artifice, what is really “historic” and what at first blush appears to be. The piece, entitled Adeline’s Portal, is installed adjacent to the upstairs bedroom of Adeline Myers, who grew up in the house and lived there until her death in 1832. The dialogue between a contemporary artist, the artifacts of a life lived nearly 200 years ago, and the modern-day people of Norfolk reflects the type of initiative the Chrysler Museum is uniquely able to present.
Expansion and Renovation Design
A central priority for the expansion and renovation project is to create a facility that enables the Chrysler Museum to present new interpretive strategies and programming. At the same time, the Museum was committed to retaining its Italianate façade and exterior design--widely hailed when it was completed in 1989--while still allowing for the creation of additional exhibition and public spaces. The challenge was solved by shifting two gardens at the Museum’s entrance forward and constructing two additional wings in the spaces opened up behind the relocated gardens. The new wings and the reconfiguration of the Museum’s interior will increase the Chrysler’s galleries by 10,000 square feet and create more flexible and airy exhibition spaces. The design will also establish an intuitive, unified circulation flow through the building and provide space to highlight recent acquisitions as the collection continues to grow.
The project will introduce environmentally sensitive climate control and lighting systems to support green operations, as well as landscaping to connect the Museum’s main building and the nearby Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. Enhanced visitor amenities will include an expanded café with an outdoor dining terrace, offering a variety of local foods and seasonal specialties, and an updated museum shop with expanded offerings.
The Chrysler’s glass galleries will expand by one third and shift from a “study collection” installation to exhibits that focus on in-depth presentations of masterworks. Visitors will be able to follow a number of story lines that illustrate not only the objects’ aesthetic importance, but also their role in history and people’s lives. Some of the many themes explored in the galleries will be the influence of non-Western art on glass design, and the use of glass as a historical “document” featuring images of prominent citizens and historical events derived from prints, drawings, and paintings.
The re-installation throughout the Museum will combine traditional and non-traditional exhibition strategies, including a series of “interventions” that will pair pieces from different cultures, periods, and media to reveal new perspectives on familiar works and trace the different exploration of ideas across time.
About the Chrysler Museum of Art
The core of the Chrysler’s collection was given to the Museum by Walter Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum over time.
Walter Chrysler, Jr. was born in 1909 into one of the 20th century’s most prominent industrial families—his father, Walter, Sr., founded the Chrysler Corporation. Chrysler began collecting art at age 14 when he purchased a watercolor by Renoir for $350, and his progressive interest in art began to manifest itself at age 17, when he purchased a Cubist pastel by Picasso. Chrysler collected prodigiously as an adult, acquiring Old Masters; decorative arts; American art from colonial portraiture to post-war works by Pollock, Rothko, and Warhol; and European painting from Veronese to Delacroix to Degas. Chrysler’s greatest passion (beyond paintings) was glass and he built one of the country’s premier collections of this material. Known for following his own instincts regardless of prevailing fashion, Chrysler amassed works that reflected his diverse taste and unique eye.
In 1945, Chrysler married Jean Esther Outland, a Norfolk native whose close ties to her hometown eventually led her husband to house his collection at what was then the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences. Chrysler’s gift transformed overnight a small, local organization into a major art museum, and the new institution was named in his honor. Chrysler served as director of the Museum from 1971 to 1976, and died in 1988.
In the years since Chrysler’s death, the Museum has dramatically expanded its collection and extended its ties with the Norfolk community. The Museum now has rapidly growing collections, especially of contemporary glass and 21st-century works.
In addition to its main building and Glass Studio, the Chrysler Museum of Art administers the historic Willoughby-Baylor House and the Moses Myers House. The Willoughby-Baylor House currently features an exhibition of iconic paintings from the Museum’s American collection while the main Museum is closed for the renovation. The Moses Myers House, dating from 1792, presents a look into the life of a prosperous early-19th-century merchant and his family, the first permanent Jewish residents of Norfolk. More than 70 percent of the Federal period furnishings and paintings on view are original to the home.
One of Virginia’s oldest and largest cities, Norfolk sits at the intersection of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, where the largest naval base in the United States and one of the country’s busiest ports have made it a hub of international activity. While Norfolk’s role as a strategic military outpost before and during the Civil War lead to the destruction of much of its antebellum architecture, the Ghent neighborhood surrounding the Chrysler Museum of Art has a large concentration of late-19th-century homes, as well as restaurants and shops. Norfolk supports a range of cultural institutions, among them the Virginia Opera, the Virginia Stage Company, and the Virginia Symphony. One of the city’s most popular cultural events is the annual Virginia Arts Festival, which has brought international performing artists to the city each spring since 1997. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum celebrates Norfolk’s extensive naval history, while the Norfolk Botanical Garden offers a sample of the horticultural abundance for which the region is known. Norfolk is a one-hour drive from historic Colonial Williamsburg and a 30-minute drive from Virginia Beach. Flying time to Norfolk from New York is one hour and 30 minutes, from Boston one hour and 45 minutes, and from Washington less than an hour.
The Chrysler Museum of Art campus is located at 245 West Olney Road, in Norfolk, VA. While the Museum is closed during construction, the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio and its two historic houses are open. The Glass Studio, located at 745 Duke St., Norfolk, is open Wednesday to Sunday with free glass demonstrations at noon. The Willoughby-Baylor House, 601 E. Freemason St., and the Moses Myers House, 323 E. Freemason St., Norfolk are open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free at these venues.
Contact Cindy Mackey