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Arts and Humanities Local News

Museum Holds Public Forum on Expansion Plans

The Speed Art Museum in the early stages of planning a major expansion, and Saturday at 10 a.m. it’s holding a public forum to share some of its ideas. The forum will be the second since the museum announced the project’s main designer — the Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture. Last October, it announced that Reed Hilderbrand Associates of Massachusetts would design the landscape.

Museum director Charles Venable says there will be some sketches of renovated spaces they’ve envisioned.

“This is the first time anybody, for example, will get to see a sneak preview of what the landscape might look like,” he says. “We’ll be talking about the site that abuts the University of Louisville and the new sculpture park we’re putting in, as well as a new public piazza and the entire surroundings of the building.”

Venable says the museum has begun raising money for a $50 million-dollar campaign for the renovation

Venable says the expansion is really part of a larger project.

“We’re really now talking about a master plan that will be executed between now and let’s say 10 years now, he says, “and the  big components of that that will guide the museum’s expanse through time.”

Venable says the architects have already incorporated many ideas from U of L students into preliminary designs.

“Hearing some of the students talk about, well, they would love to see more glass. If there’s an event going on, you want to see life and people inside that building,” he says. “And they said, well you know, if we have a place to sit, if we had Wi-Fi accessibility, there would be a reason for us to stay and linger more.”

Venable says the museum plans to break ground on the expansion next year.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Museum Chooses Landscape Architect; Gets $5 million

The Speed Art Museum has chosen a landscape architect for its expansion at the University of Louisville campus. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Taft Museum of ArtReed Hilderbrand Associates of Massachusetts designed the Phoenix Art Museum (bottom photo) and Clark Art Institute in the Massachusetts Berkshires. It also designed the grounds of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum and Cincinnati’s Taft Museum of Art (top photo).

Museum director Charles Venable says the firm indicated it wants to create space with references to the original landscape plans by the Olmsted Brothers, the firm founded by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted. (Frederick Law Olmsted designed New York’s Central Park and many parks in Louisville.)

“They’ve been very eloquent about the fact that the firm designed the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus when it was laid out in 1920,” Venable says. “And some of the major stands of trees that survive on that campus where actually plantings that were suggested by the Olmsted Brothers.”

Phoenix Art MuseumVenable says museum officials were struck by other ideas.

“One of the things that really impressed us looking at their work is how flexible they seem to be,” he says, “and how willing they were to pair themselves up with a horticulturalist who knows a lot about what would thrive well in a certain location.”

Venable says officials expect their work to transform the acre and a half around the museum — which is largely covered with asphalt.

“We have charged our architect and now our new landscape architects with bringing together the idea of art and nature and a visit to a museum, he says, “and to take basically a pretty flat site — bounded by Third Street and the university — and really create exciting moments.”

Reed Hilderbrand Associates of Massachusetts will work with wHY Architecture of Los Angeles, which the museum chose in January.

The museum expects to break ground next year and complete construction by 2014. The museum has yet to release its goal for its capital campaign. It recently announced it is receiving $5 million from The J. Graham Brown Foundation towards the campaign