Columbus Museum of Art Is Ready For Its Big Debut

Jim Fischer
"Spirit" By Mel Chin

With the Columbus Museum of Art ready to re-open this weekend, here's a quick primer on what to look for in the expanded museum.

You head up a $37.6 million renovation and expansion project, you pretty much meet with a lot of people.

And when Columbus Museum of Art Executive Director Nannette Maciejunes met with people during the CMA's major Art Matters capital campaign and the museum expansion project that accompanied it – a project that saw renovations to the museum's existing Ross Wing and lobby area and the construction of a brand-new, 50,000 square-foot Margaret M. Walter Wing – there was one simple question she heard more than any other.

"We spent a lot of time talking and listening, and the broader community seemed to always want to know 'What else have you got?'" Maciejunes said.

According to Maciejunes, in 1931 when the museum's now-historic Ross building opened, the museum owned 531 objects. By 2005, the museum owned more than 10,000 pieces of art, yet had not added significant gallery space, although its storage capacity had expanded by 60 percent.

Perhaps it's an oversimplification to suggest that an expansion project means the museum will be able to exhibit more art. Yet, at its core, that's what it's all about.

"The new galleries allow for art objects to be rediscovered, either through some inherent quality, or in a different space, or in relation to the different art that is around it," Maciejunes said.

She also noted that Gallery One, in the 1931 Ross wing, will be dedicated to housing exhibitions from the museum's permanent collection, adding, "I love the new wing, but it's not just about the new wing."

The museum will re-open to the public on Sunday, Oct. 25, so Alive asked some of those who know the museum's collection best what piece they are most excited to share with patrons now that there is the space to do so.

Nannette Maciejunes, executive director

Robert Rauschenberg's "Autobiography"

It was on the rack for years and years. It's been reframed and the way we're showing it now is the way it's meant to be shown.

Mel Chin's "Spirit"

We're thrilled to have "the Barrel" (nickname for the piece) have a home here.

Sol Lewitt's "Untitled"Nos. 1-16

We took time to put them in nice new frames and stack them. This is how they were meant to be seen.

Tyler Cann, curator of contemporary art

Josiah McElheny's "Three Screens for Looking at Abstraction"

This is one of our more recent acquisitions (indeed the piece, acquired by the CMA in 2013, was among Cann's first after joining the museum). Just for space, we had a hard time showing the piece in the 1931 building, but it really comes alive in the space we have for it now.

Also, the piece changes. It's meant to have a film projected through it, and the experience depends then on the film, which will change.

Cindy Meyers Foley, director of learning and experience

Can I go off-board? It's really the map project. We had four different local artists (Brooke Albrecht, Mary Jo Bole, Michael and Sarah Bongiorno [Michael was the lead architect on the project] and Evan Wolff) come in during the project and create their own artist's version of the [guide] map you receive when you come to the museum. They're available in the museum store for $1. We get to see how they view the building, their interpretation of what the building will be.

Evan Wolff even asked to skateboard through the museum [before there were any pieces up].

We're going to continue (the map project), rolling out new maps over the next two years. This museum will have a life after the day we (re-)open. [We want] to be a place where the people of the community, the artists of the community can continue to interact.

Merilee Mostov, chief engagement officer

Paul Feeley Imperfections by Chance exhibition

Playful, uplifting and humorous.No pretentions.Sheer joy! My favorite exhibition since I have worked here for 14 years.

Also, a little contemporary gallery niche upstairs in the new wing makes you feel like you are floating or swimming on a cloud.Includes three spectacular works by Ken Fandell, Mark Tansey and Trevor Paglen.Sweeet!

Melissa Ferguson, directorof marketing and communications

Frank Stella's "The Garden Witch"

[This sculpture] has always been a favorite of mine. It looks stunning in its new home in the Broad Street cinematic facade of the Walter Wing.

Drew Sawyer,William J. and Sarah Ross Soterassociate curator of photography

Carissa Rodriguez's"It's Symptomatic/What Would Edith Say"

This is a newly acquired (2015) piece.

David Stark, chief curator

Atrium of the Walter Wing

High and wide, open to the skies, visually and physically (via three bridges) joining the original Ross building and the new Walter wing. Transparency is remarkable - what begins in the atrium as inside walls of both buildings continues beyond the glass to become outside walls. Beautiful views of sky, trees and buildings to north and south.

Columbus Museum of Art

10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 25