“The public phase helps get us over the top. We’re nearing our fundraising goal and invite the community to join this exciting moment,” said Jessimi Jones, SMoA executive director. “This organization was founded by members of our community who believed in the importance of art and this is an opportunity for every citizen to be part of a milestone in its history.”
It has been 30 years since the SMoA’s last big construction project that added the main galleries in the south wing. Built in the 1960s as an art center for classes and instruction, the north wing hasn’t had any major updates since the 1970s.
The main galleries have remained open and operated as normal while the north wing renovation progresses.
Because significant portions of the old north wing were unusable, Jones said the renovation will reduce square footage while creating more usable space, resulting in lower operating costs.
The overall $7 million campaign has had three phases with different areas of focus. The first included installation of a new HVAC system and roofing, which reduced utility bills by 40 percent annually, allowing those dollars to be redirected toward the SMoA’s core mission programs.
Jones said this was critical as museums have specific humidity, temperature and lighting requirements to ensure the best preservation care for borrowed exhibitions and permanent collection works.
The second phase was increasing the endowment to support facility operating costs. Patrick Wicker, SMoA development officer, said funds for the first two phases came from private donors, foundations and state funds.
With the completion of the third phase, the renovated north wing will include three large education studios that will look out on the museum’s back yard. There will be more gallery space to celebrate local and regional art, including schools and community partners, and the multi-functional event space and terrace will be prime locations for community events, private rentals and SMoA programs.
“It was the belief that our community deserves a beautiful space to gather, find joy in learning something new and have their creativity ignited that inspired ‘Art invites…,’” Jones said.
By reducing the footprint by 30 to 40 percent, it means less space to have to heat or cool but more usable space and adding natural lighting with a wall of windows. When finished, it will unify the building’s two main spaces.
The capital phase of the comprehensive campaign has become even more important due to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic including supply chain issues, material costs, inflation and other factors have increased the construction costs by an additional $1 million.
Jones said the north wing is slated to reopen in early 2024, and the hope is the entire community will visit, feel inspired and make new memories.
“Art belongs to all the people and all people belong at the museum,” she said.
Wicker said a misconception is thinking museums are for certain people, which is opposite of the image the SMoA wants to portray.
Jamie McGregor, co-chair of “Art Invites,” said the SMoA board and campaign committee have worked hard and that getting this far is a testament to the extraordinary generosity of the community.
Jones and Wicker encourage the public to view the SMoA’s current exhibitions including “Chronicles: The Great Depression and the Pandemic,” “Wright in Ohio” and “No Such Things as Strangers,” the upcoming “Tigris” or attend the free Come Find Art! Holiday at the Museum event on Dec. 10.
To learn more about the SMoA and to contribute to the campaign, go to www.springfieldart.net/ or reach out to Wicker at email@example.com.