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Glass is red hot at expanded Flint Institute of Arts: New wing and glass arena emphasize artistry and education
The more than 20,000-square-foot expansion is expected to draw artists and visitors from around the region and across the globe.

FLINT, MI.- The Flint Institute of Arts welcomes the mid-Michigan community to the museum's new Contemporary Craft Wing and state-of-the-art, multi-purpose glass arena, opening on April 21, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.

The more than 20,000-square-foot expansion is expected to draw artists and visitors from around the region and across the globe to the FIA, which is located on the Flint Cultural Center campus. As a hub for the performing and visual arts, the Cultural Center welcomes more than 610,000 people each year.

The new facilities also enhance the museum's STEM2STEAM programming, which engages students from kindergarten through 12th grade in science, technology, engineering, and math in the context of the arts.

"These new facilities are so in keeping with the character of Flint," said William S. White, chairman and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. "This is a community of makers, and the FIA will be one of the few museums in the country that offers people a chance not just to view art, but also to participate in making it."

The Mott Foundation provided $8.5 million in grants to support the new expansion. In total, the FIA has raised $11 million of an ongoing $14 million capital and endowment campaign for the project.

Located in the FIA Art School, the 3,620-square-foot glass arena offers technologically advanced systems and equipment for glass, ceramics, and metal working. Stadium-style seating and video monitors overlook the arena's Hot Shop, allowing visitors to watch artists transform molten glass into creative works. Free public demonstrations will be held every Saturday, thanks to the support of McLaren Health Care. Entry to the galleries is free on Saturdays, thanks to a grant from Huntington Bank.

The FIA's longstanding emphasis on community learning and engagement also will extend to studio classes in glassblowing, flame work, sculpture, and metal casting. Enrollment is currently underway.

FIA Executive Director John Henry emphasized, "It has been our experience that when people witness something being made live, and then see a finished product of a similar artistic expression in the galleries, they find the answer to the frequently asked question: 'How did they do that?'"

Designed by the architectural firm Frederick Fisher and Partners, the 11,000-square-foot Contemporary Craft Wing introduces visitors to collections of glass, ceramics, and other craft forms. These include two recent contributions to the FIA: the Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger Collection of Contemporary Ceramics and, from the Isabel Foundation, the long-term loan of the Sherwin and Shirley Glass Collection of Contemporary Glass.

The lower level of the new wing is 7,500 square feet of secure, temperature-controlled storage, providing ample room for the FIA's 3-D collections.

Tracee Glab, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions for the FIA, said, "The addition of the Contemporary Craft Wing increases the FIA's capacity to inspire, enlighten, and provide a sense of wonder through its art collection."

The expansion contributes to the FIA's ongoing goal of being a visitor- and family-friendly destination where everyone can learn while having fun. The educational value of connecting masterworks in the permeant collection to the hands-on studio experience has always been central to the FIA's mission.

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