LONG BEACH, Calif.–Long Beach State University (LBSU) broke ground today (May 29) on a new plaza and entrance for its University Art Museum and other renovations. The project includes a new easy-to-find entrance and plaza that will attract and welcome visitors to the museum as well as a 3,000-square-foot expansion of the galleries for the display of the museum’s permanent collection.
“Without good friends and donors this would not be happening. We really are creating a bridge to students and the community,” said Christopher Scoates, director of the museum.
The project is part of a $850,000 campaign for the entrance and renovations to the Steve and Nini Horn Center inside the building.
Leading donors for the campaign are Sylvia and Ronnie Hartman and Elaine and Barney Ridder. Both couples gave $100,000 for the project. Sylvia Hartman, a member of the University Advisory Board, spoke during the program along with Helen Molles, who represents the Museum Docent Council and has spearheaded two docent fundraisers for the entrance campaign.
“This is truly a wonderful day. Now it’s going to be our dream come true,” said Silvia Hartman.
Elaine Ridder, long-time member of the museum, served on the Museum Contemporary Council, a group dedicated to growing the museum’s permanent collection. The museum lobby will be named for the Hartmans, and the Ridders will name one of the new walls that will flank the entrance.
“We are very excited to be breaking ground on a new plaza, entrance and gallery expansion designed by renowned Los Angeles-based architect Fred Fisher and Partners. This begins a new era for the museum as we can start to showcase our amazing collection of works on paper and our Gordon F. Hampton Collection,” said Scoates.
The goal of the new plaza is to provide a space for student activities, including concerts, performances, receptions, Wi-Fi, and, of course, museum programs. The museum’s new permanent gallery expansion into the east wing of the Steve and Nini Horn Center will significantly increase the exhibition space and, for the first time in the museum’s history, will allow for the regular display of works from the permanent collection, including the first opportunity in 15 years to put a selection of the Gordon F. Hampton Collection on long-term display.
“Think where you are right now because it’s going to be a lot different and better. This project is about bringing students into this welcoming space and into this museum,” said Chris Miles, dean of LBSU’s College of the Arts. “This will help make arts the center to the learning experience for students.
In addition to offering programs for 35,500 LBSU students, the museum hosts 40,000 to 50,000 visitors annually. Ranked in the top 10 percent of the nation’s more than 16,000 museums, it also is ranked among the best in the state by the California Arts Council.
“Art is so central to our lives and what we do. The impact on students will be tremendous,” said LBSU Interim President Donald J. Para. “The concept from the architects is just outstanding. I look forward to it being fully operational.”
The museum collaborates with the community, including the Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Long Beach, YMCA Change Agent Productions, Arts Council for Long Beach, Long Beach Unified School District, Aquarium of the Pacific, Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, Long Beach Museum of Art and Museum of Latin American Art. It offers a variety of education programs and tours for community groups, K-12 classes, the public and the university.
“We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with Fred Fisher and Partners, a firm long known for innovative and forward-thinking designs that are sensitive to existing site conditions and surrounding historical architecture. FFP has done an amazing job in developing designs that expand the museum’s capacity and flexibility for display, presentation, education and community engagement, and that honor the Killingsworth-designed building where the museum resides,” said Miles.
Fisher, nationally known architect of the project, designed a landscape artwork titled “Room,” which used Italian cypress trees to delineate an outdoor room for sculpture. The new plaza design reinforces that original idea to frame a multi-purpose space for casual gathering, events and sculptural installations.
“The plaza is intended to create a new campus public space as well as an entry plaza to the museum. The highly trafficked campus walkway that passes the entrance is an ideal mixing ground for students, faculty and visitors,” said Fisher before the event.
Fisher has exposed the once hidden glass storefront entrance to the museum’s wing of the Horn Center building. The configuration of the two solid panels flanking and celebrating the entrance to the museum.
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Ken Swisher, 562/985-2703, Ken.Swisher@csulb.edu
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, Rick.Gloady@csulb.edu