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Indiana University art museum prepares for lengthy renovation

March 19, 2017

The director of an art museum at Indiana University says its lengthy, $30 million renovation will make the building much more engaging for visitors.

The museum is expected to close to the public for renovations May 14, according to The Herald-Times. The target for reopening the museum is the fall semester of 2019.

Eskenazi Museum of Art director David Brenneman said the long renovation is necessary because the building is old.

"Museums are basically these incredible preservation machines," he said recently from his office on the third floor of the museum. "And like any machine, the parts get old, need to be replaced, need to be updated, and I'm simplifying, but that's basically why buildings need to be renovated."

But he said a renovation is also needed because it's extraordinary for a small Midwestern city to have a museum with such an extensive collection.

"If we were in just about any Southern major city, we would be the major city art museum. We'd be the encyclopedic collection," Brenneman said. "It's hard to understand that, to grasp that, but I'm telling you it's true."

Brenneman said many people aren't aware of the gems hidden in the triangular concrete structure in the heart of Indiana University's main campus.

"I think part of our challenge is no one knows what's inside this building," Brenneman said. "In a way, we've kind of made the building the main feature of who we are."

The monumental task of moving the museum's entire collection out of the building has already begun.

The museum's building was designed by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei. Construction began in 1978 and it was completed in 1982 after opening in stages.

The museum received a $15 million gift from Indianapolis-based philanthropists Sidney and Lois Eskenazi to help fund the renovation project.

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