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Updated 2:15 PM December 9, 2008




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UMMA to re-open in March after expansion, restoration

The U-M Museum of Art will open a landmark 53,000 square-foot expansion and major restoration of its historic, 41,000-square-foot home, Alumni Memorial Hall.

A 24-hour public opening beginning 6 p.m. March 28 will cap a celebratory week of special events for the museum's family of donors, members, volunteers, and U-M faculty, staff and students.

Designed by principal architect Brad Cloepfil and his team at Allied Works Architecture, the $41.9 million transformation more than doubles the space available for collections display, temporary exhibitions, programs and educational exploration, and fulfills the museum's mission to bridge visual art and contemporary culture, scholarship and accessibility, tradition and innovation.

"The new UMMA will be a vibrant meeting place for the arts, challenging the ways so many people perceive the traditional museum experience," says James Steward, director. "We're excited about our vastly expanded ability to showcase and interpret more of the collections alongside a wider range of temporary exhibitions.

"The new addition, named the Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing for the project's lead benefactors, will act as a beacon for the arts with comprehensive arts programming drawing on the incredible resources at this university, engaging our students' and our community's perceptions of the world in the global marketplace of ideas."

Museum officials say five key factors combine to make the project remarkable:

• Architecture that reflects and enhances the museum's mission and its location at the intersection of campus and community

• Singular collections that represent 150 years of art collecting at U-M

• Programming that will position the museum as a meeting place for the arts

• A 40,000-member student community eager for academic and social opportunities centered on the visual arts

• The project's position at the heart of a powerhouse research university

Together, these elements serve a common goal of putting art at the heart of contemporary life and civic experience, Steward says.

Highlights of the project include vastly increased galleries for collections and special exhibitions; open-storage galleries and study rooms that foster close looking; state-of-the-art conservation and art storage facilities; expanded public programming, including performing arts, spoken word, film and art making; a 225-seat auditorium; classrooms and event spaces to serve multiple audiences; a curatorial research center; a café; and an expanded museum store.

The museum will reopen with newly installed collections galleries featuring selections drawn from UMMA's more than 18,000 works of art. It also will feature three special exhibitions: Museums in the 21st Century: Concepts, Projects, Buildings, in which the museum's expansion and restoration figures; Expressions of Vienna: Master Drawings by Klimt and Schiele from the Pulgram-McSparran Collection, highlighting an extraordinary recent gift of artwork by two iconic masters of Austrian Expressionism from two U-M professors; and UMMA Projects: Walead Beshty, which serves to inaugurate the museum's new signature series focusing on global contemporary art.

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