A third-floor walkway will link old and new.
While the UW campus may seem like a minefield of endless construction, Russell Panczenko, director of the UW's Chazen Museum of Art, has his eyes on the prize: Oct. 22, 2011. That's the grand opening of the museum's expanded facility, which will effectively double the Chazen's size.
During a 45-minute public presentation May 7, Panczenko stressed not only the aesthetic appeal of the new building, but also the ways in which it broadens the type of artwork that can be shown. For example, galleries with soaring, 21-foot ceilings will permit the display of large-scale work.
The new 86,000-square-foot building, on the site of the former Peterson Building and funded completely by private donations, will be linked to the existing building by a third-floor walkway.
While the walkway is also a space to display art, it visually links the two halves of the Chazen. By extending the strong horizontal line and stonework on the front of the existing building, the walkway unites the two structures.
"We want to make sure the museum functions as a single museum," not two separate entities, said Panczenko.
To that end, Machado and Silvetti Associates, the designing architects for the project, chose to respect the original building designed by Harry Weese (who also did the neighboring Mosse Humanities Building) and work with it, not against it.
Special features include a vast new lobby spanning 4,000 square feet. While huge glass windows in the new lobby will give it an inviting indoor/outdoor feel, Amsterdam-based fiber artist Petra Blaisse has been commissioned to create a special curtain. When it's rolled up, it will function almost as a hanging sculpture; unfurled, it will provide privacy when needed for special events in the lobby.
At the rear of the building, the third-floor walkway will also have glass. Visitors within the museum will have a spectacular view of Lake Mendota; pedestrians down below will be able to see art in the walkway. Panczenko is in the midst of envisioning what art might be displayed there; he wants something that will "read" from a distance to passersby.
The arrangement of the galleries will follow fairly straightforward chronological and geographical groupings. However, in a nod to the museum's strengths, one gallery will be devoted to Midwest Magic Realism (featuring artists like the late surrealist John Wilde) and another to contemporary glass.
The opening show in the new building will feature Sean Scully, an Irish artist known for large-scale abstract paintings.