posted on Oct. 4: Museum of Art reopens in November


There'll be fresh paint on the walls, new labels on the paintings and a new exhibit to see when the McMaster Museum of Art reopens its doors on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Museum staff have used the past several months while the facility
has been closed to spruce up the art gallery and catch up on projects
they couldn't do on a daily basis. It's the first major opportunity
they've had to renovate since the new museum in the Alvin A. Lee
Building opened its doors in 1994.

They're focusing on the positive after having unexpectedly
closed their doors in mid-May due to a mysterious smell that left some
staff feeling ill.

“This closing has given us an opportunity to refresh the
facility and make it practically brand new again. The galleries will
have a new polish and sparkle to them and we're excited about that,”
says Christine Butterfield, new assistant curator.

A comprehensive and exhaustive series of air quality tests (including mould tests) were conducted in the spring and all came back negative — nothing was found in the air. The testing also enabled the University to conduct a thorough review of the Museum's mechanical systems. Subsequently, numerous equipment and operational changes have been implemented to upgrade the air quality within the building.

“Our physical plant staff have installed new chiller equipment and reviewed various components of the air handling systems and are now in
the process of completing air and water balancing tests of the new
systems. We expect this work to take three weeks. Museum staff will then put the galleries back up,” says Karen Belaire, vice-president
administration. “The new systems have the latest technology and will provide the climate-controlled environment that is necessary to house the University's art collection.”

Museum staff have been working in the gallery for short periods of time and at alternate locations on campus, such as the Library. “All ten of our staff are involved with all aspects of the renovations and refurbishments and with other Museum activities. They are looking forward to the reopening and have been working hard to ensure a successful event in November,” says Butterfield. “Everyone is
doing everything possible to ensure we open as quickly as we can.”

The closing has prevented tours of the galleries and necessitated some
changes in academic programs which use the Museum as a resource, but
Butterfield says people have been supportive. Professors have adjusted their course material and made alternate arrangements. Museum staff have also made arrangements to get material and information from other sources when it has been requested. For one art history class the Museum supplied slides of artwork in lieu of students seeing the actual pieces. The class will see the art when the Museum reopens.

The featured exhibit for the reopening is an installation from the Ontario Arts Council titled Looking Forward: New Views of the Craft Object (Nov. 18-Dec. 16). Museum programming will also return with talks by Robin Metcalfe, contemporary art curator, London Regional Museums, (Nov. 29) and silversmith Anne Barros (Dec. 6), and a ceramic demonstration by Thomas Aitken (Dec. 16)

A grand reopening celebration is planned for January when the Museum showcases the National Gallery of Canada exhibit Evoking Place. Contemporary photographs from the Museum's permanent collection will also be on view.