See how the Springfield art museum celebrated opening of multi-million project

Credit: Brett Turner

Credit: Brett Turner

Artistic opportunities in Springfield got a boost on Saturday when the Springfield Museum of Art marked the opening of its newly renovated north wing.

The celebration invited visitors to explore the three studio spaces that can be used as classrooms, gallery spaces and an event space. The $3.4 million renovation, which came primarily from public donations, private donors and state funding, took under 10 months to complete and was on time and budget, according to museum executive director Jessimi Jones.

She said one of the most impressive parts of the project is that it reduced the square footage by 4,000 feet, about 30 percent, but less is more in this case.

“This project was the right size for us with spaces that are much more usable and meets the needs of our community,” Jones said.

The original space was built in 1967 with additions in 1973. The thought was for each new space to flow well and be functional and usable.

Credit: Brett Turner

Credit: Brett Turner

One of the celebration’s goals was to expose how the spaces will be used. The Elizabeth Cole Carpentieri Terrace room is an event space that can be used by for any number of events and Saturday saw live performances from the Springfield Arts Council’s Youth Arts Ambassadors and Gary Geis School of Dance.

Students and their families from Clark Early Learning Center painted in the Wilson Sheehan Foundation Studio and the Jane Hollenbeck Studio had other artmaking opportunities. Other spaces offered talks with artists and creative people.

Preschooler Lute Collins enjoyed painting here on a field trip and brought his family for their first time on Saturday. His mom, Jaime, said they’d like to return for one of the monthly Come Find Art days to do further projects and grandmother Rhonda Weber can see it as a way to interact with the grandkids and learn.

Jones said that by getting youngsters involved early on it creates lifelong museum-going habits.

SMoA staff hoped to draw people from several areas and that occurred with visitors coming from Marysville, Yellow Springs, Dayton and Columbus.

David Frueh, a paraprofessional at Clark Early Learning Center who lives in Fairborn, came to support the students and left with a desire to return to the museum and visit other Springfield landmarks including the Westcott House.

“I had no idea there was so much cool stuff and history in Springfield until my wife and I started working up here,” he said.

Gayle Kencheff of Springfield was a frequent visitor years ago, enjoying pottery classes and admitted she’s gotten away from it. Attending the opening with friend Jackie Potts opened their eyes and hearts by being reunited with old friends.

“I love this place, and being able to see everyone made it even better,” Kencheff said.

The museum’s main galleries were also open during the event, which also impressed Kencheff and Potts. The former was especially impressed with the current exhibition “Chronicles: The Great Depression and the Pandemic.”

“It really tells a story through history,” she said.

Ted and Jodi Vander Roest especially liked the new wing’s flexibility and the windows, which were done to match the existing windows and to show off the beauty of Cliff Park as well as having light in studio spaces enhances creativity.

“It’s awesome with all that light,” he said.

He is a member of the Mad River Art League, a Springfield-based collective of area artists, and said the studios will be a good place for the group to do projects and create.

Jones said she sought to unify the north and south wings and hopes the windows will catch the attention of passersby and encourage them to visit the spaces.

As the museum is the only Smithsonian Museum affiliate in Ohio, the organization’s national outreach manager Jennifer Brundage traveled here for the opening and was impressed, saying this space has more in common with museums in larger cities.

“I’ve been coming here for years and this has all the ingredients to inspire creativity,” Brundage said. “It’s taking things to the next level.”

Adding to the fresh approach, the museum is rebranding with a new logo, signage and overall enhancement of the brand’s communication aesthetics.

The museum isn’t wasting time using the new spaces with upcoming events including Art Noire, Feb 2-3 and Oral History Weekend tying into the “Chronicles” exhibit Feb. 24-25. This summer will see the return of the Lunch on the Lawn outdoor concert series in cooperation with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, working with various school groups and other community projects.

“The major goal is for everyone to feel welcome here, to be excited and want to come back to visit us,” said Jones.

For more information on the museum, go to