While other museums and galleries are welcoming visitors with the loosening of pandemic restrictions, the Weisman Art Museum has shut its doors for maintenance.
"We had issues with the roof replacement a couple of years ago, and it caused a bit of water damage," said associate director Gwen Sutter. "We got that fixed, but as a result the university has looked at this 30-year-old iconic building."
The university cut holes in the walls and checked out aging parts. It discovered that a fire suppression system needed to be brought up to code. It will also upgrade to LED lights and install an updated security system and higher-grade wiring.
In lieu of the closure, the museum will host an outdoor art installation, "Just Yesterday," a 60-foot wraparound mural installed on the façade of the museum, that uses pop culture references to highlight racial injustice. It remains on view through Oct. 1.
The Weisman's Frank Gehry-designed building, named in honor of Minneapolis-born art collector Frederick R. Weisman, opened in 1993.
"Closing the museum again this year is difficult, particularly when the solace and inspiration of art is so sorely needed," said interim director Karen Hanson.
JE Dunn Construction, the company that worked on the Weisman's multimillion-dollar expansion project that added five new galleries and doubled the number of displayable objects, will also lead these updates.
The Weisman is planning to reopen in September, when students begin their fall semester.
Sutter said it made sense to do renovations now, while people are still working from home and navigating virtual events.
"It would've been great if we tackled that when we were closed [by the pandemic], but COVID pushed everything back," said Sutter. "There was no one in the building or on campus. We finally got to the point where we could have contractors in."
All art has been removed from the galleries and put in storage. Pieces that can't be moved, like Gehry's "Standing Glass Fish", have a protective barrier installed.
Meanwhile, the university has relaunched its national search for a museum director. The search had paused in 2020 during the early months of the pandemic, but there is now a job posting on the Weisman's website, and public interviews will be announced after finalists are selected.
Hanson, the university's former provost, has served as interim director since the retirement of Lyndel King in June 2020 after more than three decades in the post.
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