Crowds milled about the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art in puffed winter jackets after coming inside from a cold evening Nov. 7. An orange glow filtered from tea lights lining the sides of staircases as live acoustic music spilled from the balcony into the expansive lobby.
The museum originally opened in 1941 after collaborations between Herman B Wells and professor of fine arts Henry Radford Hope worked to assemble a varied art collection. For the past three years, the museum has been closed to the public for a complete $30 million renovation.
While located in the heart of IU’s campus off of E. 7th Street, the grand reopening drew a crowd beyond the campus bounds.
“The first year I was here the museum was closed, and it’s been closed until now,” Miggy Torres, a recent music composition masters graduate, said. “I’ve been really excited about coming here since I found out it was a thing. It’s sort of been on my calendar for the last two years.”
The museum has released several photos of its interior before the grand reopening. However, the first official opening began at 4 p.m. Thursday. Museum admission is free to the public due to the philanthropic donations from Sidney and Lois Eskenazi given in 2016 for the renovations.
“They’ve posted some nice pictures on their Instagram, so it’s been really cool seeing some previews of what the inside of the museum looks like,” Torres said. “It seems a lot bigger than I realized it was.”
Several brief tours were offered throughout the event and “Celebratory Faces,” as described by the museum, graced the exhibits. Master’s students decorated the faces and outfits of bachelor’s students to correspond with various artworks.
In addition, an organized scavenger hunt was available to all attendees. A “Poetry-on-Demand” workshop provided a space where guests could request a poem of their choice.
There are eight exhibits dispersed among the three, open-air floors of the building.
“It would be cool to do some sort of musical collaboration here,” Torres said. “It’s so resonant out there, and I feel like it’s really cool space to make art in general, especially because there’s a lot of open space.”
The night concluded with a performance of “Oh What a Night” covered by the group Another Road in the atrium.
“Watching the sunset from inside here is so beautiful,” Torres said. “Every time you walk into a gallery and spend some time in there and then walk back out, the lighting has changed so it’s like you’re seeing the whole thing for the first time.”
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