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Michener Art Museum looking ahead to expansion of education wing
KieranTimberlake's model of the James A. Michener Art Museum and its forthcoming Edgar Putman Event Center. Side view.

DOYLESTOWN, PA.- In April 2012, the James A. Michener Art Museum will open an all new children's gallery and three classrooms in the Ann and Herman Silverman Pavilion.

"Having a permanent education space will mean we can expand programming for children ages 3 to 15 and be able to work more with adult groups and senior citizens in studio art classes," says Director of Youth and Family Programs Ruth Anderson. "We also hope to expand our Learning to Look and Listen preschool art education program and host outreach programming on a more regular basis."

Permanent classroom space will make it possible to expand current course offerings; enable greater flexibility for youth and family programs and school tour programs; broaden the range of art materials students can use; and inspire ongoing collaboration between age groups.

"The beauty of art studio classes and summer camp at the Michener Art Museum is that students engage in a variety of art-making experiences with an ongoing exposure to the museum's permanent and special exhibitions," continues Anderson. "We provide a unique opportunity for students to be inspired not only by excellent adjunct staff members but also the works of some of Bucks County's greatest artists."

"This is part of the museum's recognition of how our education program has grown," says Michener Art Museum Director/CEO Bruce Katsiff. "We never before had dedicated studio space and a permanent children's gallery."

Visitors to the new education space will enter first through the dedicated children's gallery into the three classrooms.

"We will be able to exhibit children's art 12 months a year with formal invitational exhibitions, and in more spontaneous ways," says Susan Sherman, director of the children's gallery. "The children and our museum visitors will have better access to the children's exhibits, and the gallery will be much more integrated into the fabric of the educational offerings at the Michener. We are all pretty excited to see this happen."

Education programs previously shared space with other programs and events in the Silverman Pavilion. The museum expects to open its brand-new Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion in spring 2012. This $5 million high profile project - the largest self-supporting glass structure in the northeast, designed by KieranTimberlake of Philadelphia - will now be used for Jazz Nights, exhibition programming and other special events.

The museum has come a long way since its beginnings in the old Bucks County Jailhouse in 1988. "Back then, the Silverman was the whole museum," says Katsiff. Katsiff, who joined the museum in 1989, has announced his retirement, effective spring 2012 after the completion of the Event Pavilion, the new education wing and the opening of a traveling exhibit of Renaissance paintings and tapestries from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy — sometimes referred to as "the Louvre of Italy."

Happ Contractors of Doylestown expects to complete the renovations to the Silverman Pavilion by April 15. Ellen Happ is architect. Two of the classrooms will be named for Carol and Louis Della Penna and Eugene W. and Marie Louise Jackson.

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