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Eskenazi Museum unveils design plans for transformative renovation
The museum’s new entrance through the sculpture terrace, connecting the museum to the north-side of campus and the arboretum. Images courtesy of Ennead Architects/BDMD.

BLOOMINGTON, IN.- The Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University has unveiled the initial design plans for the $30-million renovation to its I.M. Pei-designed building. The renovation will include an additional 20,000 square feet of gallery space, four new museum centers, a new lecture hall, and re-envisioned front and rear entrances, all while working within the existing footprint of the building. These improvements will greatly enhance the visitor experience at the museum, re-establish the Eskenazi as a state-of-the-art facility for the 21st century, and make it one of the preeminent teaching museums in the United States. Designed by Susan T. Rodriguez/Ennead Architects in New York with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, based in Indianapolis, the renovation and restoration is expected to be completed by fall of 2019.

The renovation will enhance the museum’s mission as a preeminent teaching museum through the creation of four new centers that will provide more space for programming and better resources for university students, professors, community-members, and preschool through high school students from throughout Southern and Central Indiana. The four centers are: a center for art education, where museum staff will instruct teachers on effective ways to use art objects in the museum’s collections; a center for art conservation where Indiana University can promote learning about the science behind preserving and studying works of art; a center for the study of works on paper, providing greater access to the museum’s diverse collection of 22,000 prints, drawings, and photographs; and a center for curatorial studies, which will be a place for training the next generation of museum curators. Facilities will also be improved to allow expansion of the museum’s already robust educational tour program that currently serves over 9,000 IU students and close to 5,500 K-12 students annually.

“As a university art museum, a core part of our mission is to serve as a convening space and forum for our faculty, students, and community,” said David A. Brenneman, the museum’s Wilma E. Kelley Director. “Through this renovation project, we will be able to create a much more visitor-focused experience within the existing footprint of our building, while also enhancing our educational offerings, which is at the very core of our mission. We have a mandate to be a hub of creativity and activity, and through this renovation project, we will be able to become a much more open, accessible, and welcoming place.”

Designed to enhance the visitor experience, the renovated museum will feature a new main entryway and a re-envisioned atrium and lecture hall, as well new display elements and integrated technology in the galleries. A new pedestrian bridge will create a link between the two wings of the Museum on the third floor, providing a more natural flow of traffic and a more open and inviting experience for visitors. In addition, visitor amenities will be improved throughout the building, including updates to the gift shop, café, and visitor services.

In an effort to create a more seamless integration with IU’s campus, Ennead has designed a new walkway alongside the front of the building that will bring pedestrian traffic closer to the museum. In addition, windows that were previously covered will be opened up to allow passers-by visual access into the museum. A new entrance will be added to the museum’s terrace, creating access to the campus arboretum located directly behind the museum and offering a bridge between the north-side of campus, which has grown significantly since the museum was built, and the campus’ arts plaza and the iconic Showalter Fountain.

The project is made possible in large part thanks to a landmark gift of $15 million from Indianapolis-based philanthropists Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, the largest cash gift in the museum’s history. The gift will be matched by the university as part of For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign match program.

In addition to the renovation, the Eskenazi Museum is committed to raising funds for endowments that will enhance the museum’s exemplary education program, and fund new positions within the museum to further its goals of preservation, scholarship, and teaching through the study of artworks in the original.

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