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3/13/2017 11:41:00 AM
After lengthy renovations, IU museum will be a 'much more engaging' facility, director says
Artist's renderings show the complete Eskenazi Museum of Art on the IU Bloomington campus. The museum will be closing in May 2017 so work can be done. Courtesy imaage
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Artist's renderings show the complete Eskenazi Museum of Art on the IU Bloomington campus. The museum will be closing in May 2017 so work can be done. Courtesy imaage
At a glance
Timeline

1978: Construction begins on the museum, designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei.

1982: Building completed; museum opens to the public.

May 2016: Museum renamed for Lois and Sidney Eskenazi after $15 million donation.

May 14, 2017: Museum closing to the public for renovations.

Fall semester 2019: The target for reopening the museum to the public.

By the numbers

$30 million: Cost of the upcoming renovation of the Eskenazi Museum of Art on the IU campus.

45,000: Objects in the museum’s collection.

15,000: Square feet that will be added to the museum, increasing the total square footage to about 115,000.

33: Number of full-time employees, with about as many graduate assistants.



Michael Reschke, Herald-Times

Ask David Brenneman why a $30 million renovation of the Eskenazi Museum of Art on the IU campus is necessary, and he’ll tell you it’s simply because buildings get old.

“Museums are basically these incredible preservation machines,” he said recently from his office on the third floor of the museum. “And like any machine, the parts get old, need to be replaced, need to be updated, and I’m simplifying, but that’s basically why buildings need to be renovated.”

Keep talking to him, though, and you’ll find there is another reason. It’s extraordinary for a small Midwestern town to have a museum with such an extensive collection.

“If we were in just about any Southern major city, we would be the major city art museum. We’d be the encyclopedic collection,” Brenneman said. “It’s hard to understand that, to grasp that, but I’m telling you it’s true.”

Before being appointed director of the Eskenazi Museum in 2015, Brenneman spent 13 years as a curator and director of collections and exhibitions at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the premier art museum in the southeastern United States.

He understands what it means to have original paintings by Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock in a city like Bloomington with fewer than 90,000 people. He also understands many people aren’t aware of the gems contained within the triangular concrete structure in the heart of Indiana University’s flagship campus.

“I think part of our challenge is no one knows what’s inside this building,” Brenneman said. “In a way, we’ve kind of made the building the main feature of who we are.”

The building is impressive.

It was designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei. Construction began in 1978 and after opening in stages, it was completed in 1982.

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