Academy Art Museum Showcases New Space

The Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD is excited to announce the culmination of its $5+ million capital campaign which will open new doors to the arts and build a legacy for the Museum. The campaign will allow the Museum to build on its achievements by expanding the reach of its educational programs and the excellence of its exhibitions and collections. The campaign’s initiatives will enhance the Museum’s existing programs and facilities for the benefit of its audiences and the community.

Most notable to the campaign is the initiative providing renovations to the Museum’s building and newly-designed entrance. The courtyard, which is formed by both the existing historic buildings and a series of additions created in the 1990s and expanded in 2004, will be a public space for relaxation, informal gatherings, meetings, and museum functions. The museum courtyard entrance initiative focuses on relocating the Museum’s main entrance through a freshly-landscaped pathway from Harrison Street to the current Courtyard. This change will help align the Museum with the cultural corridor of Harrison Street and present a welcoming environment for over 50,000 annual visitors.

“The new Mary Lou McAllister Courtyard entrance offers a welcoming, beautifully landscaped public space facing the “cultural corridor” of S. Harrison Street,” states Ben Simons, Museum Director.

The new entrance will also bring the public into the center of the building activities rather than into the end of a corridor, making traffic more rational and easier to control. A new ADA ramp will be constructed to provide accessible entry at the same location.  School children will continue to access the building through the existing entrance which will ease congestion.

“The modern glass A. James and Alice B. Clark Entrance beckons visitors into the Saul Atrium Gallery and other galleries, bringing the visitor into the twenty-first century while also honoring the legacy of the Academy’s historic buildings and traditions,” comments Catherine McCoy, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.

The campaign’s building stewardship initiative addressed the Museum’s most urgent program and facility needs.  As a museum that combines historic structures with modern additions, significant capital funds are required to maintain the Museum’s infrastructure. Upgrades to flooring, lighting, finishes throughout the facility and to the Museum’s bathrooms have provided major upgrades and improvements to the visitor experience. There have also been important enhancements to the Museum’s HVAC system. A new welcome desk includes a small area for Museum merchandise and Museum store sales in the Atrium.

The new entrance to the Academy Art Museum is on Harrison Street in Easton. Visitors enter through the new Mary Lou McAllister Courtyard. The Museum will open to the public on August 1.

The Architect for the project was Ziger|Snead Architects of Baltimore, a renowned Maryland architectural firm.  Campuses, organizations, and communities are transformed through Ziger|Snead Architects’ mission that great design can change people and places and have a positive social footprint. Their clients include important cultural institutions such as the Maryland Historical Society and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

“Rather than enter a relatively small historic door into a narrow space, visitors will now arrive through a newly landscaped courtyard into a dramatic glass cube, and from there to a more welcoming lobby. The modern glass cube speaks to the dynamic and progressive aspirations of this important cultural institution. The courtyard and new entry become the heart of the entire campus and will be the venue for a variety of public programs.” States Steve Ziger, FAIA, and partner at Ziger Snead Architects.

Willow Construction was the contractor for the project.  Michael S. Hiner, President, Willow Construction, comments, “We are thrilled to be part of the renovation and vestibule addition for the new courtyard entrance to the Academy Art Museum. These changes will provide fresh excitement to the many programs and displays that the Academy provides.  We are proud to manage the construction utilizing local tradesmen and craft professionals, each of us knowing that we contributed to the improvements to this very special facility in our community.”

In addition to the physical changes, the Museum’s capital campaign is also addressing art stewardship which will enable the Museum to build on its excellent exhibition history and continue to pursue shows featuring leading artists from art history and significant emerging artists, while improving the quality and diversity of its collection and enhancing its care.  The arts education initiative focuses on meeting the growing demand for the Museum’s educational programs by expanding its offerings. Today, the Museum is the leading provider of arts education in the Mid-Shore region. Finally, the campaign’s museum endowment initiative has addressed growing the Museum’s endowment to protect its future.

The new modern glass A. James and Alice B. Clark Entrance beckons visitors into the Saul Atrium Gallery at the Academy Art Museum.
Photographs courtesy of Karl Connolly Photography.

“We are deeply tied into the community with over 75 collaborations with community partners, non-profits, and neighbors. We want our physical campus to express our relationship with the broader community,” adds Simons.

McCoy adds, “We are so grateful to all of the donors who supported our capital campaign and can’t wait to show off the facility beginning on August 1 when our new contemporary exhibitions open to the public.”

The Museum will have new procedures and precautions in place to address the health concerns of COVID-19 upon opening. The Museum’s new hours for fall 2020 will be Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m. The Museum will be closed on Mondays for professional cleaning and will be cleaned daily during the week.  Hand-sanitizer stations will be provided at the Front Desk and other targeted areas. Visitors will be required to wear masks while in the Museum. The Museum will have masks for visitors who do not have their own, although people are encouraged to bring their own masks. There will be stanchions and signage to direct visitor flow, including one-way entrances to the Healy and Lederer Galleries, with social distancing signage in place, and a stanchion for the Front Desk to require social distancing of visitors waiting to enter. Staggered entrances might be necessary for larger numbers of visitors.

To view a virtual tour of the Museum’s newly renovated space, visit academyartmuseum.org.

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