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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2006




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U-M Museum of Art says bye—for now—to old friends

Before the U-M Museum of Art (UMMA) moves temporarily to make way for an expansion and renovation project, the public is invited to say goodbye to some old friends that have graced familiar spaces.
"Daedalus," by sculptor Charles "Chuck" Ginnever, has occupied the lawn of the Museum of Art since 1977. It will disappear for a while but return after completion of the renovation. (Photo courtesy UMMA)

UMMA will undergo a $35 million expansion and restoration of Alumni Memorial Hall June through mid-2008. During that time the museum will operate in temporary exhibition space at 1301 S. University Ave. Exhibitions will be mounted in the 4,000-square-foot space and a modest version of the museum store will operate.

The museum in its present location is preparing for construction by systematically removing and securing its collections. The process will begin in mid-May and continue through June. A semi trailer parked on the south side of the museum will contain supplies at the ready for packing, including core plastic boxes, rolls of foam and other materials that are approved for archive protection. All of the materials are acid free.

"Everything has to leave the building," says Lori Mott, museum registrar who is overseeing the packing and moving of collections.

Besides Mott, whose job as registrar is to keep track of every item in the museum collections, eight additional people are working eight hours a day to pack the works of art. Every piece of jewelry, every painting, the marble sculptures inside the entrance and a painting measuring 12' by 12' all have to go. Even "Daedalus," the metal sculpture on the front lawn of the museum, will be moved. But Mott says not to worry; the piece will return after construction and landscaping are completed.

Some of the collection items are too large to be moved from the museum through its loading dock and will go out through the front doors. U-M Moving and Trucking will do the heavy lifting. "We've worked with them so long that they are just about experts on moving art," Mott says. The collections will be taken to a secure location with climate control and security officers.

Museum staff will be relocated to the Horace H. Rackham Building, where there will be space for the conservation laboratory.

"We've been planning this for 18 months," Mott says. "There's a lot of pain and suffering now, but it will be so much better in the new building. We will even have a covered loading dock and a freight elevator."

The "Goodbye Old Friends" program features docent-led tours through the museum's various galleries. The tours are free and no advance registration is necessary. Tour dates are 7 p.m. May 18 and 2 p.m. May 21 and 28. As some of these exhibits are packed for storage, each tour will feature different "friends." What is emphasized in the first tour may not be available for the second and third tours.

In the next few months, the museum shop also will prepare for its move using a cascading sale beginning the first week of May. That week, select merchandise will be discounted 10 percent; the second week 20 percent; and so on until the last week before the shop closes, when select items will be discounted as much as 80 percent. New items will be featured at the shop's temporary location beginning June 25.

For construction information, visit

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