Now that the Peterson office building has been leveled, both UW old-timers and newly arrived students can get a better sense of how the 80,000-square-foot expansion of the Chazen Museum of Art will match up with the original, Harry Weiss-designed Elvehjem building. Astute observers will note, however, that the Peterson building's basement remains largely intact.
That's not because fund-raising for the expansion has hit a snag, says Chazen director Russell Panczenko. "Since we won't be breaking ground until next February or March, the university didn't want to leave a huge hole in the ground," he explains, revealing the quotidian reason for the delayed excavation.
The UW Board of Regents approved the "35% design" of the building on Aug. 21. That bit of bureaucratese means, says Panczenko, that the appearance and primary functions of Machado and Silvetti Associates's design for the building have been okayed by the state. This week Panczenko and the architects will travel to stone quarries in Wisconsin and Minnesota to choose the limestone for the building's faade.
Should everything go according to plan, Panczenko expects the new building - which is meant to complement but not overshadow Weiss' restrained stone-covered structure - will be set for a grand opening celebration in October 2011.
Panczenko allows that, as with any major construction project, the Chazen expansion could surpass its current $35 million budget, all of which is covered by private dollars, including a $20 million lead gift from Jerome and Simona Chazen. For that reason, he says, fund-raising will continue until the doors are first opened to the public.
And perhaps beyond that date. "We're not quite sure how far it will creep beyond that $35 million," he says. "A lot of it depends on the bid process. There are so many unknowns - no matter how precisely you try to estimate it."
At present, Panczenko and his staff haven't decided on what the grand opening exhibition in the new building will consist of. But given that the Machado and Silvetti design includes an expanded Asian gallery and the museum's first gallery dedicated to African art, both are likely to be featured. (Over at the original Elvehjem, the entire fourth floor will become the museum's permanent gallery for the decorative arts.)
All the new space will require more staffing, of course, and that in turn will require even more funding into the future. But Panczenko isn't looking for the university to cover those costs. "We're looking at more public programming," he says, describing the museum's plans to promote new income streams. "We'd look to corporations in the community to support some of those public activities. With cutbacks in university budgets, we can't just look to the university to solve these problems."
Above his pay grade
Gerri Ager would like to make one thing perfectly clear: Her late partner, Joel Gersmann, never made between $40,000 and $50,000 a year during his long tenure as artistic director of Broom Street Theater. Broom Street development director Jennifer Rae Poppy offered up those dollar amounts three weeks ago in an Arts Beat column about the theater's new fund-raising strategy. But Ager can't imagine where the numbers came from. "Joel never made more than $12,000 a year at the theater," she says.
Gersmann often used what money he did have on his prodigious music collection. Auger is keeping much of it, but she wants classical music fans to know that all of Gersmann's 6,000-plus classical and art-music titles are for sale. Interested parties should contact her at 608-233-7575.
The new building should open in 2011.