Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cleveland Museum of Art: Save The Date/Atrium Preview

Most people who know me know that I love pulling back the curtain -- looking behind the scenes, touring buildings while construction is in progress, attending rehearsals -- anything to see how something comes into being, and in a way how something evolves.

That's why I was delighted when a very good friend invited me to the Cleveland Museum of Art's "Save the Date" event last night, in the Museum's grand new atrium. I wasn't sure what to expect from the space or event, but entering the atrium I've been eagerly peering into through a 12" portal for the past couple years I was a bit awe-struck. The west wing is only a skeleton of steel; the north wing galleries and office space are open studs with the beginning of drywall. Scaffolding is covering a portion of the 1916 building...construction equipment is scattered, the floor is unadorned concrete...The atrium's glass ceiling is finished.

In addition to my attraction to construction in progress I've always found some attraction to the trendy-party-in-a-gritty-abandoned-warehouse concept that seems to appear in movies yet I've never found in real life -- but this struck me as a very close substitute in terms of the physical texture. (Attendees were required to sign a construction liability waiver, but hard hats were not required)

From the precarious perch of a scissor lift, museum Director David Franklin announced to the assembled crowd that he was proud to announce the $350 million acquisition of a piece of art entitled "Construction Site". While clearly a joke (with a few laughs from the crowd), even in this state the scale of the atrium an the project it is a part of is clear; it will be an amazing space both for the museum and the City of Cleveland, and if the level of finish seen in the phases completed thus far is maintained, the finished product will be a work of art.

That "finishing" -- the grand reopening of the Cleveland Museum of Art -- is now set for December 31st, 2013. Planning ahead, let alone two and three-quarters years ahead is something rather notoriously not done by the male side of my family...but if they'd let me I'd be thrilled to RSVP now.

After the introduction the party adjourned to the museum's North Lobby and Gallery 101 -- the typical location for events like the member's reception -- with a great assortment of food and drink. The rooms were simply buzzing with excitement, and after working the room for a while my friend and I found a bench and chatted until the crowd thinned.


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