The art of friendship was on display at last weekend's gala celebrating the reopening of the Weisman Art Museum (WAM).

Patrons, University of Minnesota faculty members, tour guides and world-renowned architect Frank Gehry gathered to interact with the distinctive metal-clad building, which had been closed for a year for renovations and expansion. Then they dined in the expanded galleries among the collection of American modernism.

Duane Hanson's eerily lifelike sculpture of William Weisman, the father of the museum's namesake, sat in a chair seemingly partaking in the festivities.

It was an inspired moment for Lyndel King, who has been WAM's director for 30 years. "The weather, the sunset, the lighting. ... It may be the best day of my life," she said.

"We can now show a lot more of our collection, and people can come back and make friends with works of art."

With so many more works on display, King has been getting to know a few of them better, too, including the paintings of Alfred Maurer, which haven't been among her favorites. "They look so fabulous that I'm changing my mind," she said.

She's also spending time with Paul Winchell's "The Fruit Tree," which depicts a dozen incongruous figures in an enigmatic industrial setting. "It's a mystery work, but now, maybe somebody will figure it out," she said.

Then there was Gehry, whose design for WAM helped launch his star. "He's an absolute genius -- maybe the only genius I have ever known," said King, who has kept in touch with the building's Los Angeles-based architect for 30 years. "We're friends," she added.

It seems WAM just brings people together.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177