The N.C. Museum of Art will close Sept. 7, but it won't disappear.
Instead, the museum will be a moving target for eight months, the better to keep art lovers engaged before the museum reopens in April at the conclusion of its $83.9 million renovation and construction project.
They're calling it Museum on the Move.
“It's the right thing to do,” museum director Larry Wheeler says. “It's not that the museum is stopping its business; it's doing it in a new way.”
While moving its collection to the new 127,000-square-foot building over the next seven months, the museum will stage exhibitions, lectures, concerts, films and other programs at its museum park and amphitheater and other Triangle locales.
In planning the renovation, the staff knew it would have to close the museum at some point. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, for instance, has been closed for more than a year while completing its renovations, Wheeler says. Closing is not unusual, but it could put off some art fans.
The Arts in the Museum Park program of movies and concerts will run through early October. There's a lecture series at Meredith College. The museum's film series will move to the Galaxy Cinema in Cary for now. And its Art of Collaboration program in Lee, Johnston and Chatham county middle schools will expand to include Asheboro and Wayne, Pitt and Guilford counties.
The Sights & Sounds chamber music events with the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild, will try out new Raleigh venues this year. The museum will also host stargazing evenings at its 164-acre park.
The museum Web site has been revamped. The museum staff is also putting together an online community advisory board of residents statewide.
The plan is to make Museum on the Move a permanent thing.
“It's always a good idea to extend beyond the museum walls,” Wheeler says. “That's been our philosophy in my 15 years here.
“This period gives us an opportunity to roll out a lab for new ideas, new thinking, and new ways of communicating,” he said. “I don't think (the temporary closing) is bad at all.”
On Sept. 7, the museum staff will begin moving more than 750 pieces, out of more than 5,000, into the new building. Between then and mid-April, the Edward Durrell Stone building will be altered to allow for temporary exhibitions, education and administration space. The lobby will also be renovated, and reflecting pools and gardens will be added to the museum grounds.
The museum will reopen in late April.
Said Wheeler: “I can already hear the music in my ears.”