Albany Institute of History & Art Prepares to Begin Expansion Project

 

With 82 million remaining in its $12.5 million Heritage Campaign, the Albany Institute of History & Art is preparing to break ground for its expansion project early in the fall, museum director Christine M. Miles announced. With the recent news of a major grant of $500,000 from The Kresge Foundation, the Heritage Campaign has raised $10.5 million to date.

"An exact date for groundbreaking has not been scheduled, but we are definitely on track and progressing," said Miles in early July, 1998. "Construction managers Sano-Rubin have been working with project architects Solomon + Bauer and Dennis Stevens, AIHA director of facilities, to fine tune the project's timeline," she explained.

Although the construction project necessitates the closure of several galleries, the museum will continue to be open to the public. Several galleries on the second floor were closed in June as curatorial staff began preparations to move and store the permanent collections during construction.

Hudson River School Collection to Travel Nationally; "City Neighbors" to Visit Neighborhoods

Of the 60 pieces in the Alhany Institute's Hudson River School collection, 26 will become a traveling exhibition over the next three years. Developed by Smith Kramer Fine Art Services of Kansas City, Missouri, the tour includes stops at the Museum of Art, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; the Orlando (Florida) Museum of Art; The Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, New York; Kalamazoo (Michigan) Institute of Arts; Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; and Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey.

"We are delighted to have this expanded visibility for our Hudson River School collection," said Tammis Croft, AIHA chief curator. "National interest in this exhibition was terrific; the tour sold out faster than any Smith Kramer had previously offered. Needless to say, we're delighted that so many people outside the Capital Region will have the opportunity to see these wonderful paintings."

During construction, the CITY NEIGHBORS PROJECT will continue to be an important part of the Albany Institute's community outreach and audience development, as well as providing a springboard to programming initiatives and collections development. Plans for a version of CITY NEIGHBORS that can travel throughout the Capital District are currently being developed, according to Wesley Balla, AIHA curator of history. "This is an opportunity for the City Neighbors Project to reach even more of our community and for more people to participate in the process of planning for the new museum," Balla said.

Education Programming Expands in Variety and Venues

The loss of some programming space once construction begins has created a variety of challenges - and opportunities - for museum staff and volunteers. Some education programs, including the ever-popular curriculum-based lessons on Egyptian history and art, will continue to be held on site; others have found various temporary off site homes. "Our staff educators and volunteer docents will take even more school lessons into the classrooms this year," explained Ted Lind, AIHA director of Education. "We're also planning a series of monthly lectures which will be held at the Albany Public Library starting in October."

On-site, the Education Department has plans to use temporary programming space to test prototypes of new exhibition ideas for the new museum. "We're going to turn our on-site space into a lab to get audience feedback on the ideas for exhibitions and programs we're planning for the new museum's opening in 2001," Lind explained. Families, in particular, will be targeted for input into the development of the planned "Connections" gallery, through focus groups and monthly participatory learning and art-making programs.

Festival of Trees Moves Off Site

While the Albany Institute has always held a variety of special events off site, big changes loom on the horizon this year. Most notably, the annual Festival of Trees, sponsored by the Women's Council of the Albany Institute, has moved off-site for the first time in its 15-year history. This year's Festival will be held at the Bulmer Telecommunications Center at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy from November 24-29, 1998.

"We are very excited about the opportunities presented by our new location," said Denise Maurer, president of the Women's Council. The Bulmer Telecommunications Center at HVCC is a wonderful site for this year's festival, with state-of the art technology, great facilities, lots of space - and lots and lots of parking! We're also pleased to be able to be extending our regional presence by going 'over the river' this year," Maurer added.

 

Founded in 1791,the Albany Institute of History & Art is a museum dedicated to collecting, presenting, interpreting and promoting interest in the history, art and culture of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley region. The museum achieves this mission through its collections, exhibitions, education programs, library, research projects, publications and other programs offered to the general public.

published 7/27/98


This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 11/28/11

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