Bloomington art fans will soon need to use their own creativity to find new galleries and exhibitions while one of IU’s largest sources of art takes a hiatus.
The Eskenazi Museum of Art is expected to be closed to the public from May 14 until fall 2019 as part of a $30-million-dollar renovation.
“The role of museums in the world has changed quite a bit since our museum building was created, and this renovation will allow us to be a better museum in the modern world,” Abe Morris, manager of public relations and marketing for the museum, said in an email.
Half the money is a gift from Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, the museum’s namesakes, and the other half was matched by “For All: The Indiana University Bicentennial Campaign,” Morris said.
For the first time since the 1980s, the mechanics used to preserve the art will be updated, museum director David Brenneman said. Updates in technology in the past 30 years will help preserve the lives of the pieces even longer. There will also be an expansion into the Fine Arts Library, which has always been part of the larger plan.
“In the end, I think we’re going to be a much more accessible, much more engaging art museum,” Brenneman said.
Brenneman said some of the students who worked at the museum will be updating the online database and helping with other small projects where they can.
The artifacts in the museum will be moved to an undisclosed offsite location, Brenneman said. The area is not meant for art storage, and it may not be possible to move pieces around during the renovation.
While community members wait for the museum to reopen, they can find art in many other places around IU and Bloomington, Morris said. Starting this fall, full-time staff will be working in other locations.
First Thursdays on campus and First Fridays in downtown Bloomington also provide new opportunities to discover local talent, Morris said.
Online, patrons can visit a new website called “Highlights of the Eskenazi Art Museum” that displays about 1,000 objects from the collection, Morris said.
There will also be news updates on the website for people who want to follow how the renovation.
Museum staff will also visit classrooms around the community and work on programs for when the museum reopens in 2019, Morris said.
In addition, new walking tours of art around IU and architecture tours will also be implemented to expand the programming despite the closure, Brenneman said.
Although Brenneman said he knows the two-year closure is not ideal, he thinks the closure will be best for the University and its art fans in the long run.
“We can hopefully bring attention to the wonderful things that are not only in this museum but all around campus,” Brenneman said. “I think there really is art everywhere.”