Archive for the 'Renovation Plans' Category

Staff Resolutions for 2016

2015 has been a wonderful year, and we’re grateful for the support from our members, donors, volunteers, board members, and corporate partners—a community coming together to make the arts in Charleston shine. We asked the Gibbes Staff to share some of their resolutions for the Museum in the New Year. We’re calling 2016 “The Year of the Gibbes,” with so much in store as the Museum plans to reopen its doors this spring. We cannot wait to invite you into the newly renovated building to view the reinstalled collection and special exhibitions, and to participate in our roster of exciting programs and events. Wishing you a Happy New Year full of creativity and inspiration!

—The Gibbes Staff

Erin Banks, Creative Director
–Establish a new Gibbes logo with the help of Gil Shuler Design.

–Launch a new Gibbes website, created by Blue Ion.

–Gather new exhibition images to use in our print materials!

John Westmark exhibition opening

Photo by MCG Photography

Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education

–Enjoy good food and drink at the new Museum Café.

–Reopen the Museum with exhibitions, programs, and events that excite the Charleston community and visitors alike.

–Have a successful six weeks of Summer Art Camp for the first time ever in the building.

Summer Art Camp 2013

Photo by Carolina Photosmith

Becca Hiester, Curatorial Assistant
–Bring all of my friends in town on a tour of the museum, my own personal Museum Hack. Some of my friends have never been to the museum before (even if they grew up here!), and I need to spread the love!

Gibbes exhibition opening

Photo by MCG Photography

Jennifer Ross, Director of Development

–First and foremost, achieve our goal of $13.4M for the capital campaign to renovate and restore the Gibbes.

Gibbes Capital Campaign Thermometer

–Welcome back our community—both visitors and long-time supporters—to the Gibbes, the oldest museum building in the south, this coming spring.

–Engage visitors in our center of creativity with world-class exhibitions, lectures and programs.

Lasley Steever, Director of Programs and Events

–Establish an Artist-in-Residence program with outstanding contemporary artists whose work contributes to a new understanding of art in the South.

–Provide great programs allowing visitors to fully engage with the visual arts through lectures, performances, tours, and classes.

Gibbes Museum Distinguished Lecture Series, 2015

Photo by MCG Photography

Jena Clem, Special Events Manager

–Have the museum booked with private events every weekend when we reopen.

–Grow our staff to support the increased programming and events we’ll be offering.

–Be featured as the number one event venue in Charleston, South Carolina/Southeast.

Laurie Clark Wedding photo cred: Whimsey Photography

Photo by Whimsey Photography

Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration

–Execute safe return of 10,000 pieces of art from off-site storage locations to the renovated Museum spaces.

–Harmoniously work with Museum staff and contract crews to unpack the art collection and reinstall in new galleries in an extremely tight time frame.

–Remain calm, cool and collected over the next few months in order to successfully manage all that needs to be managed to reopen of the Gibbes! Eat fewer Tic Tacs to manage stress.

–Celebrate our beautiful new spaces and improved access to the collections in a BIG way once the Museum reopens with interactive, unique behind-the-scenes tours and programs.

–Share the Gibbes success with museum colleagues across the state and the region through continued, active involvement and leadership in professional museum organizations.

Gibbes Collection on the move

Interning at a Closed Museum

Intern Valerie Coughlin in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Intern Valerie Coughlin in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art.

When I tell people that I am an intern at the Gibbes Museum of Art, I am often met with a confused look and the question: “How can you intern at a closed museum?” While this question is valid I have come to see the Gibbes’ renovation as an added bonus to interning at one of Charleston’s finest museums. As an arts management major at The College of Charleston, I have learned about all types of arts organizations, from well-established ones to completely new. I have learned about the challenges of developing programming from scratch as well as building upon existing programs. As a Public Programs and Special Events intern this fall under Lasley Steever, I have gotten to experience things I have only read about in textbooks. It is one thing to read about board responsibilities, but to see the number of hours and the amount of energy board members put into the Gibbes is something entirely different. As an intern I have learned about every aspect of an event, from artist accommodations to the logistics of securing a venue. But during my time here I have learned much more than how to successfully execute an event.

Insider Art with Andrew Brunk

Brunk Auctions president, Andrew Brunk, spoke to a crowd at the Gibbes Museum’s Insider Art Series.

I have been given the unique experience to be an intern at a museum with a reputation that goes back 150 years but also a museum that is undergoing renovations in more ways than one. Along with the floor to ceiling renovation of the building, the Gibbes is rebranding itself. This includes a new website, a new logo, a new mission statement, all in time for the re-opening this spring. So while I get the benefit of interning at one of Charleston’s most recognized and respected institutions, I also get to see how a museum develops on the ground floor. I have seen how the entire staff is coming together to build a new Gibbes. I have experienced how much planning and attention goes into creating a logo, how many meetings go into designing a website, and how the staff and board spend countless hours working together to discuss their hopes for the future of the Gibbes. I have learned that “Reimagine the Gibbes” is much more than a renovation tagline, it is reflective of what I experience day to day as an intern here. So while yes, I am interning at a closed museum, my time here has been invaluable. I am surrounded by the most talented, passionate, and hardworking staff and I cannot wait to see everything come together this spring when the Gibbes Museum of Art reopens!

Valerie Coughlin, College of Charleston intern and guest blogger

Interview with Renovation Project Managers Nick Cameron and Lauren Amos

This post was originally published on our renovation blog. All new renovation-related posts will be included on the Gibbes Museum blog.

How did you become involved with this project?

Nick – I first learned of the project from Museum Designer, Jeff Daly. I worked with Jeff for many years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and subsequently, on a gallery renovation project at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. While working on the project in Indianapolis, Jeff talked extensively about the early planning on the Gibbes Renovation and made it seemed like a wonderful project. When the time came to hire an Owner’s Representative the Gibbes gave me the opportunity to interview for the position.

Lauren – I worked for Nick for a number of years at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. When Nick left the IMA and started his firm he offered me the chance to join him. I felt that working on this project as well as living in Charleston seemed like a perfect opportunity.

Gibbes Museum Renovation

Can you give us some behind the scenes glimpses of what’s happening right now with the renovations?

Currently there are major strides being made in the infrastructure of the building. A major part of the renovation is focused on bringing the mechanical systems up to standards and we are seeing a lot of ductwork being installed at the moment. The electrical and plumbing infrastructure is also progressing nicely. Of course the main visual difference that most people can see is the progress on the new addition. This week the structural steel that will support the third floor of the addition was completed and we are well on our way to having the shell of the addition complete soon.

Gibbes Museum Renovation

During the Gaillard renovation archaeologists found bones from 29 graves on the site, have you come across any unexpected discoveries at the Gibbes?

In the new lecture and reception area at the back of the building, work was being done in order to accommodate a new skyfold door. During some core drilling in this area, about 5 feet below the floor a total of 6 trolley track sets were found running in opposite directions. It is believed these were used to support the foundation of the original 1905 building.

Gibbes Museum Renovation

What aspect of the renovated museum do you think will have the biggest impact on the visitor’s experience?

Nick – I think the Lenhardt Garden will be a fantastic place for museum visitor’s to enjoy the outdoors. The plaster restoration work in the Rotunda and Main Gallery will excite the public by emphasizing the grandeur of the original architecture. The new gallery layout will enhance the flow through the permanent collection and special exhibitions. The new lighting systems will provide the visitor with a view of the collections never experienced before at the Gibbes.

Lenhardt Garden Rendering
Lenhardt Garden

Lauren – The redesigned “free” first floor will offer many amenities, like the café and working artist studios that will offer an elevated museum experience. I also feel like the expanded gallery space will allow for better display of the Gibbes Collection and will make it possible for the Gibbes to bring many high quality special exhibitions to Charleston.

What have you most enjoyed about living in Charleston?

Nick – This is a hard question to answer but between the charm of the city, the balmy southern weather, and the friendliness of the people I am enjoying living in Charleston very much.

Lauren – Growing up in Northeast Ohio and mainly living in the Midwest for the majority of my life, I have to say I enjoy the warmth the most but I also love living in a city with such historical significance.

Nick Cameron and Lauren Amos

Nicholas Cameron started NCMC following his departure from the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2013. His goal in starting a consulting firm was to put his extensive museum construction and operations experience to work. Cameron served as Chief Operating Officer of the IMA from 2010 to 2013. In his role at the IMA, Cameron led the construction and renovation efforts at the main museum building. Prior to joining the IMA, Cameron worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for more than 30 years, serving for 10 years as Vice President for Construction. While at The MET, Cameron successfully completed more than $850 million in construction projects over a 22-year period. Cameron holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University

Lauren Amos joined NCMC in 2013. In her role at NCMC, Amos serves as primary administrator in operational and financial matters. She also participates in the day to day Owner’s Representative and Consulting Services the firm provides its clients. Prior to joining NCMC, Amos was responsible for Operations at the Indinapolis Museum of Art. She worked directly with the security, facilities, events, retail, food service, and design departments. While at the IMA, she also served in key roles on many special projects including all activities at Westerley (Director’s residence), the partnership with the Indianapolis International Airport, and the collaboration with The Alexander Hotel.

Throughout her career, Amos has held operational and administrative positions at various consulting firms ranging from engineering, hospitality, finance, and human resources.

Amos received her BA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Q&A with Evans & Schmidt architect Joe Schmidt

This post was originally published on our renovation blog in April 2015. All new renovation-related posts will be included on the Gibbes Museum blog.

Gibbes Museum Renovation
Joe Schmidt and colleague Rick Fisher at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Evans & Schmidt Architects has designed a wide range of projects since it was established in 1984. The primary focus, however, has remained unchanged over the past twenty-nine years. Evans & Schmidt Architects has openly embraced the challenge of targeting new and existing construction in the dense historic fabric of downtown Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry. These include private residences, corporate offices, retail, municipal buildings, as well as academic and performing arts projects. The firm has been the Architect of Record for the renovation and preservation of numerous properties individually registered as National Historic Landmarks. Joe Schmidt was kind enough to answer some questions about the museum renovations.

How did you become involved with this project?

In 2006, Angela Mack and I worked together on the renovation of City Hall. She coordinated the removal, off-site storage, and eventual return of City Hall’s permanent extensive art collection within the Council Chambers. Restoring the Council Chambers to its pre-1886 earthquake floor plan presented unique challenges as we sought to better showcase the art for all to enjoy while also maximizing the available seating space for the public wishing to attend council meetings. We also enhanced the environmental indoor control system to ensure the art is protected to the highest possible standards.

Describe your design process, for example, what specific challenges did this 100+ year old building pose?

The Gibbes was constructed very stoutly of solid masonry in 1905, but absolutely without any physical accommodation space for running any electrical piping or air conditioning. Consequently, as those necessities were added over the years, the ceilings were repeatedly lowered, which totally changed the character of its many spaces. The challenge was to selectively redesign and consolidate these modern day necessities, incorporate additional life safety features, and then restore as much of the original spatial character as possible.

How will the renovation change the visitor’s experience?

The original building was incredibly open, dependent entirely on natural light and a few gas light fixtures to illuminate the interior. Over the years, as more gallery hanging space became needed and exhibit layout fashions changed, the natural light was eventually blacked out entirely. Our hope is that future visitors will embrace the far brighter renovated spaces that better connect the indoor gallery spaces with the outdoor garden. Because of advancements in glass protected surfaces, the additional sunlight will not harm the artwork and sculpture on display.

What aspect of the renovated museum do you think will have the biggest impact on the visitor’s experience?

Being able to step through the front door and see clearly through the building all the way to the beautifully redesigned Lenhardt garden in the rear, then looking right or left and glimpsing for the first time ever the marble flanking staircases enticing you to venture upstairs. A physical visual relationship with the exterior is maintained at all levels, which is contributory in helping to lower stress and increase stamina.

Why is this project important to Charleston?

The renovation restores not only the façade, but encourages the public to once again freely walk down the 1905 hallways and observe active art studio work and classes taking place on a daily basis as was originally envisioned in 1905. This practice has been discontinued since the 1960s. The Gibbes Museum is one of Charleston’s preeminent cultural institutions and this renovation will ensure that the future needs of the museum are best addressed while restoring this 110 year old building as close as possible to its original condition and mission.

Can you give us some behind the scenes glimpses of what’s happening right now with the renovations?

The building has been undergoing extensive interior demolition work since December 2014. This includes the removal of added partitions and antiquated electrical utilities in careful preparation for the expansion of appreciably more spacious galleries and event spaces. This dismantling work will continue for several more months before any actual renovation work will be observable from the street. In the meantime, pilings have been driven for the new extension on the building’s south side to house a new first class art delivery and storage facility.

Lighting the Gibbes Museum: Q&A with Anita Jorgensen

This post was originally published on our renovation blog in June 2015. All new renovation-related posts will be included on the Gibbes Museum blog.

Anita Jorgensen, IESNA, IALD, LEED, LC has been practicing architectural lighting design in New York for over twenty years. Her background in art history and theatrical lighting design brings a strong sense of aesthetics and drama to her lighting approach. Her hands-on experience gained from extensive exhibition lighting design work translates into specifications for lighting systems which not only meet the immediate lighting requirements, but also provide for durability, ease of maintenance, and long term flexibility. Anita was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work with the Gibbes Museum renovation.

Preliminary Facade Lighting
Gibbes Museum of Art, Preliminary façade lighting

How did you learn about the Gibbes Museum?

I worked with Jeff Daly at The Metropolitan Museum for a number of years while he was the Head of the Department. When Jeff opened Jeff Daly Design, we worked on several projects together including: the Ringling Museum of Art; the annual Winter Antiques Show in New York; Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, RI; and others. In 2012 Jeff suggested I visit the Gibbes Museum and discuss its lighting needs with Angela Mack. Angela brought AJLD on board and I am happy to report that the Gibbes renovation has been a fabulous project with a fantastic team!

How did you get involved in lighting design? Give us a little information about what led you down this career path.

While studying Fine Arts and Art History in undergraduate school, I became aware of the work of renowned theatrical lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, who has designed for extensively for dance, drama and opera. Her work inspired me to pursue a career in theatrical lighting design. During my graduate studies at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, I became intrigued with the field of architectural lighting design. After five years with architectural lighting design firm Fisher Marantz Stone, who is best known for designing “Towers of Light” after the 911 twin towers incident, an opportunity arose to work as a lighting designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Design Department that I could not pass up. The projects I was involved with at the Metropolitan ranged from temporary exhibitions, large-scale renovations of entire wings, extensive custom case work, as well as exterior façade lighting.

After working on staff at the Metropolitan for a number of years, I began my own practice, Anita Jorgensen Lighting Design (AJLD).

What are the challenges with lighting museums? Please give examples. How can good lighting transform museum space?

One of the great challenges of designing lighting for museums is balancing art conservation standards with visual clarity. Among the many aspects to consider are the control of daylight while balancing supplemental glare free electric light. When designing the new lighting system for the East Gallery at The Frick Collection, which included both daylight and electric light, we completed an extensive mockup process to determine the optimal method for controlling the quantity of daylight entering the galleries in combination with supplemental LED lighting to highlight the artwork. The mockup process gives the team an opportunity to actually see and test the results of our research findings. We did the same for the Gibbes Museum where we reviewed the ability of various lighting sources to render paintings accurately. During a side by side lighting comparison in the galleries, it was unanimously decided that the track mounted luminaires would use 3,000 Kelvin LED sources. LED lamps have the great advantage of emitting no ultra violet radiation, consuming only 10 watts each as opposed to 50 watts and last more than seven times longer than halogen.

frick-east-gallery_sm
The Frick Collection, East Gallery

Another important consideration when designing for museums are issues of conservation. For example all of the windows need to be properly fitted with screens and filtering film to reduce the level of light entering the galleries and to block the damaging ultraviolet portion of the incoming daylight.

The second source of illumination in galleries is typically a fully flexible overhead track lighting system which is often the primary source for lighting art. For the first time, the track lighting in the new Gibbes Museum renovation will be energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) track mounted luminaires. After all of the artwork is installed, the gallery lighting will go through a final fine-tuning process. During this stage, the exact lighting intensity levels for each object will be specified.

We also recently completed an exterior night-time lighting mockup for the garden where we reviewed lighting the garden with cool light mimicking moonlight vs. warm candle light effect. We also demonstrated illuminating the trees from below (uplighting) vs. locating lights up in the trees pointed downwards filtering through the leaves that created patterns of light on the ground much like the light coming from a full moon.

What can the community expect to ‘see’ with the renovated Gibbes?

The visitor will be able to see the fabulous Gibbes Museum art collection rendered in a crisp new glare-free light. The galleries will be brighter and more daylight will enter the building giving the visitor a greater connection to the outside.

Below is a listing of Anita’s more memorable projects:

The Frick Collection, East and West Galleries: designed a new lighting system that integrates invisibly with the museum’s landmark interiors

The Frick Collection, West Gallery

West Gallery, 2010 (new lighting installed)

Metropolitan Museum Great Hall: recreation of the original McKim Meade and White pendant

Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets: a conference center and trading floor

Original Cornerstone of the Gibbes Revealed

This post was originally published on our renovation blog in January 2015. All new renovation-related posts will be included on the Gibbes Museum blog.

1905 Masonic Ceremony for the Gibbes Museum of Art

The momentous Masonic ceremony, performed before a crowd of hundreds, was lost to history until 2005 when this photograph was brought to the museum by John Zacharias, great nephew to Harry T. Zacharias the contractor for the building. John found the photograph in his aunt’s house in Delaware and brought it to the Gibbes on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Gibbes opening.

Gibbes Museum Cornerstone

Contractors working on the renovation and expansion of the Gibbes Museum of Art on Meeting Street recently unearthed the building’s original cornerstone. First laid on December 8, 1903, in grand fashion by the Masons of Charleston, the cornerstone has been hidden from view for the last 111 years. According to newspaper articles from the date, a copper box containing a copy of James S. Gibbes last will and testament, 1902 proceedings of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina, the 1902 Year Book of the City of Charleston, a copy of the News and Courier for December 8, 1903; and medals and other memorabilia contributed by ceremony participants is sealed within the inscribed stone.

Lighting the Gibbes Museum, Q&A with Anita Jorgensen

Anita Jorgensen, IESNA, IALD, LEED, LC has been practicing architectural lighting design in New York for over twenty years. Her background in art history and theatrical lighting design brings a strong sense of aesthetics and drama to her lighting approach. Her hands-on experience gained from extensive exhibition lighting design work translates into specifications for lighting systems which not only meet the immediate lighting requirements, but also provide for durability, ease of maintenance, and long term flexibility. Anita was kind enough to answer a few questions about her work with the Gibbes Museum renovation.

2015 Gibbes Renderings

Gibbes Museum of Art, Preliminary façade lighting

How did you learn about the Gibbes Museum? I worked with Jeff Daly at The Metropolitan Museum for a number of years while he was the Head of the Department. When Jeff opened Jeff Daly Design, we worked on several projects together including: the Ringling Museum of Art; the annual Winter Antiques Show in New York; Rosecliff Mansion in Newport, RI; and others. In 2012 Jeff suggested I visit the Gibbes Museum and discuss its lighting needs with Angela Mack. Angela brought AJLD on board and I am happy to report that the Gibbes renovation has been a fabulous project with a fantastic team!

How did you get involved in lighting design? Give us a little information about what led you down this career path.

While studying Fine Arts and Art History in undergraduate school, I became aware of the work of renowned theatrical lighting designer Jennifer Tipton, who has designed for extensively for dance, drama and opera. Her work inspired me to pursue a career in theatrical lighting design. During my graduate studies at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, I became intrigued with the field of architectural lighting design. After five years with architectural lighting design firm Fisher Marantz Stone, who is best known for designing “Towers of Light” after the 911 twin towers incident, an opportunity arose to work as a lighting designer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Design Department that I could not pass up. The projects I was involved with at the Metropolitan ranged from temporary exhibitions, large-scale renovations of entire wings, extensive custom case work, as well as exterior façade lighting.

After working on staff at the Metropolitan for a number of years, I began my own practice, Anita Jorgensen Lighting Design (AJLD).

What are the challenges with lighting museums? Please give examples. How can good lighting transform museum space?

One of the great challenges of designing lighting for museums is balancing art conservation standards with visual clarity. Among the many aspects to consider are the control of daylight while balancing supplemental glare free electric light. When designing the new lighting system for the East Gallery at The Frick Collection, which included both daylight and electric light, we completed an extensive mockup process to determine the optimal method for controlling the quantity of daylight entering the galleries in combination with supplemental LED lighting to highlight the artwork. The mockup process gives the team an opportunity to actually see and test the results of our research findings. We did the same for the Gibbes Museum where we reviewed the ability of various lighting sources to render paintings accurately. During a side by side lighting comparison in the galleries, it was unanimously decided that the track mounted luminaires would use 3,000 Kelvin LED sources. LED lamps have the great advantage of emitting no ultra violet radiation, consuming only 10 watts each as opposed to 50 watts and last more than seven times longer than halogen.

FRICK East Gallery

FRICK Museum East Gallery

Another important consideration when designing for museums are issues of conservation. For example all of the windows need to be properly fitted with screens and filtering film to reduce the level of light entering the galleries and to block the damaging ultraviolet portion of the incoming daylight.

The second source of illumination in galleries is typically a fully flexible overhead track lighting system which is often the primary source for lighting art. For the first time, the track lighting in the new Gibbes Museum renovation will be energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) track mounted luminaires. After all of the artwork is installed, the gallery lighting will go through a final fine-tuning process. During this stage, the exact lighting intensity levels for each object will be specified.

We also recently completed an exterior night-time lighting mockup for the garden where we reviewed lighting the garden with cool light mimicking moonlight vs. warm candle light effect. We also demonstrated illuminating the trees from below (uplighting) vs. locating lights up in the trees pointed downwards filtering through the leaves that created patterns of light on the ground much like the light coming from a full moon.

What can the community expect to ‘see’ with the renovated Gibbes?

The visitor will be able to see the fabulous Gibbes Museum art collection rendered in a crisp new glare-free light. The galleries will be brighter and more daylight will enter the building giving the visitor a greater connection to the outside.

Below is a listing of Anita’s more memorable projects:

  • Frick West Gallery, East Gallery: designed a new lighting system that integrates invisibly with the museum’s landmark interiors
West Gallery, 2010 (new lighting installed)

West Gallery, 2010 (new lighting installed)

  • Metropolitan Museum Great Hall: recreation of the original McKim Meade and White pendants
  • Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets: a conference center and trading floor

Q & A with Architect, Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt and Rick Fisher at the Groundbreaking Ceremony in October, 2014

Evans & Schmidt Architects has designed a wide range of projects since it was established in 1984. The primary focus, however, has remained unchanged over the past twenty-nine years. Evans & Schmidt Architects has openly embraced the challenge of targeting new and existing construction in the dense historic fabric of downtown Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry. These include private residences, corporate offices, retail, municipal buildings, as well as academic and performing arts projects.  The firm has been the Architect of Record for the renovation and preservation of numerous properties individually registered as National Historic Landmarks. Joe Schmidt was kind enough to answer some questions about the museum renovations.

How did you become involved with this project?

In 2006, Angela Mack and I worked together on the renovation of City Hall. She coordinated the removal, off-site storage, and eventual return of City Hall’s permanent extensive art collection within the Council Chambers. Restoring the Council Chambers to its pre-1886 earthquake floor plan presented unique challenges as we sought to better showcase the art for all to enjoy while also maximizing the available seating space for the public wishing to attend council meetings. We also enhanced the environmental indoor control system to ensure the art is protected to the highest possible standards.

Describe your design process, for example, what specific challenges did this 100+ year old building pose?

The Gibbes was constructed very stoutly of solid masonry in 1905, but absolutely without any physical accommodation space for running any electrical piping or air conditioning. Consequently, as those necessities were added over the years, the ceilings were repeatedly lowered, which totally changed the character of its many spaces.  The challenge was to selectively redesign and consolidate these modern day necessities, incorporate additional life safety features, and then restore as much of the original spatial character as possible.

How will the renovation change the visitor’s experience?

The original building was incredibly open, dependent entirely on natural light and a few gas light fixtures to illuminate the interior. Over the years, as more gallery hanging space became needed and exhibit layout fashions changed, the natural light was eventually blacked out entirely. Our hope is that future visitors will embrace the far brighter renovated spaces that better connect the indoor gallery spaces with the outdoor garden. Because of advancements in glass protected surfaces, the additional sunlight will not harm the artwork and sculpture on display.

 What aspect of the renovated museum do you think will have the biggest impact on the visitor’s experience? 

Being able to step through the front door and see clearly through the building all the way to the beautifully redesigned Lenhardt garden in the rear, then looking right or left and glimpsing for the first time ever the marble flanking staircases enticing you to venture upstairs. A physical visual relationship with the exterior is maintained at all levels, which is contributory in helping to lower stress and increase stamina.

Joe Schmidt

Joe and Mayor Riley on a hard hat tour, February, 2015

Why is this project important to Charleston?

The renovation restores not only the façade, but encourages the public to once again freely walk down the 1905 hallways and observe active art studio work and classes taking place on a daily basis as was originally envisioned in 1905. This practice has been discontinued since the 1960s. The Gibbes Museum is one of Charleston’s preeminent cultural institutions and this renovation will ensure that the future needs of the museum are best addressed while restoring this 110 year old building as close as possible to its original condition and mission.

Can you give us some behind the scenes glimpses of what’s happening right now with the renovations?

The building has been undergoing extensive interior demolition work since December. This includes the removal of added partitions and antiquated electrical utilities in careful preparation for the expansion of appreciably more spacious galleries and event spaces. This dismantling work will continue for several more months before any actual renovation work will be observable from the street. In the meantime, pilings have been driven for the new extension on the building’s south side to house a new first class art delivery and storage facility.

Gibbes facade

Rendering of the renovated Gibbes Museum

To learn more about the renovations, please visit our renovation website!

The Gibbes Museum of Art Receives $100,000 from The Henry Luce Foundation for the Re-installation of the Permanent Collection

The Gibbes Museum of Art has received a grant award in the amount of $100,000 from the prestigious Henry Luce Foundation for the reinstallation and reinterpretation of the permanent collection as part of the Gibbes renovation. The renovation will begin in early fall of 2014, and is designed to showcase the museum’s distinguished collection and afford a complete picture of American visual culture in the South from the early colonial era to the present. The Luce Foundation is committed to supporting the continued vitality of American art scholarship and programs, and this grant strengthens the Gibbes’ commitment to generating scholarship and exhibitions that promote a broad understanding of the dynamic role that the art of the South plays in the larger context of American and world art history.

Rendering of the Renovated Museum

Rendering of the Renovated Museum

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for the reinstallation of our collection. The highly regarded Henry Luce American Art program has supported significant projects including the reinstallation of the permanent collection at a number of museums, including the Andy Warhol Museum in 2014 and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2013. We are honored to be included in this selection of esteemed institutions,” says Gibbes Museum of Art Executive Director, Angela Mack.

The newly expanded and renovated galleries will provide a 30% increase in gallery space to showcase more than 600 works of art from the permanent collection (a 125% increase in works on view). The Grand Gallery, with its original Beaux Arts skylight, will showcase early American art of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In the newly expanded South Galleries, innovative display cases and open storage cabinetry will allow for up-close interaction with over three hundred portrait miniatures by some of America’s most significant miniature painters as well as a number of French émigré and British artists painting American sitters. The newly expanded North Galleries will feature several works that demonstrate the national shift in American art from academic painting to impressionism. While steeped in history, the Gibbes collection also reflects the artists and artistic styles representative of contemporary Southern art. The Garden Gallery will feature works by late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century artists native to the south or working in this region. The central rotunda gallery will serve as a sculpture hall.

Mary Roberts miniature

A miniature by Mary Roberts from our permanent collection. Unidentified sitter (possibly Sarah Wilkinson Middleton), ca. 1745. By Mary Roberts (American, ?-1761)Watercolor on ivory. Bequest of Mrs. Amelia Josephine Emanuel

 

“Gaining funding from a prestigious organization like the Luce Foundation is truly an honor. A chief goal of Luce is to support exemplary American art collections so their support and recognition is a real compliment to the significance of our permanent collection,” Says Sara Arnold Gibbes Museum of Art Curator of Collections.

Henry Luce Foundation – New York, New York

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities.

Amy Mercecr, Marketing and Communications Manager

The Spirit of the Garden

When Gibbes Executive Director Angela Mack first asked me to visit the museum to discuss the renovation project, I immediately began to pay attention to the beauty that is everywhere in Charleston. As plans progressed for the interior of the museum, I began to relax and enjoy evening walks around the city. I was impressed by the many beautiful gardens I encountered. I have always loved gardens and have had the great fortune to see many of the premier gardens of Europe, and all over the world, thanks to my “field trips” for the Metropolitan Museum. However, during the busy days at the Gibbes I rarely seemed to find the time to contemplate the garden at the back of the museum.

A view of the courtyard, ca. 1960s, with the Charleston Library Society in the distance.

A view of the courtyard, ca. 1960s, with the Charleston Library Society in the distance.

Once I began to consider the courtyard space hidden behind the building, I started asking everyone about the history of this grand old garden. Having spent 30 years therapeutically strolling in Central Park outside of The Metropolitan Museum, I knew that great gardens have a spirit of their own. I started to examine the history of the Courtyard through images of the garden taken over the years. Although many good attempts were made to upgrade it, the garden never seemed “just right” to complement the museum’s Beaux-Arts building.

The rear facade of the original museum building.

The rear facade of the original museum building.

The Persephone fountain and rear facade of the Gibbes.

The Persephone fountain, centered in the courtyard, after the 1970s museum addition.

In addition to the history of the Gibbes garden space, I learned more about tradition of Charleston gardens over the centuries and started to see similarities. The Gibbes archives contain numerous images of the transformations behind the museum, and curator Sara Arnold helped me compile examples and track the changes over the years. The museum’s earliest photos of the Courtyard date back to the 1930’s when all of the plant material was smaller and the trees were not so overwhelming. The historic iron gates, which were originally part of the William Aiken House, were completely visible. As you can see in the images included in this post, there were some winners and some losers in the various renovation designs, but each transformation had some good ideas that helped take the garden plan forward. Angela and I began talking about how we could not renovate the building without paying serious attention to the garden and the Gateway Walk, as well as those marvelous gates that mark the boundary between the Gibbes and the Charleston Library Society.

The Gibbes Couryard ca. 1947, looking towards the Charleston Library Society

The Gibbes Couryard ca. 1947, looking towards the Charleston Library Society.

That is when I first began to really understand that there was something missing at the back of the Gibbes. The Gibbes Courtyard Garden now contains too much mature plant material that overwhelms the minimal ground cover. As everyone in Charleston knows, if you leave a garden to its own vices it can soon become a beast and quickly grow out of control. As the months went by and we planned the new spaces for the museum’s interior, I realized that the garden had to be next on our list of improvements. So my evening walks began to shift focus from therapeutic strolls to investigative research. First, I walked the Gateway Garden Walk to see what all the fuss was about. The Charleston Historic Gateway Walk starts at St. John’s Lutheran Church on the eastern side of the peninsula and winds west to Archdale Street, meandering through historic cemeteries and walkways including the Gibbes Courtyard.

The Charleston Gateway walk

The Charleston Gateway Walk from the Gibbes Courtyard towards Meeting Street.

I explored further south towards the Battery, touring the historic areas of Charleston and the centuries old walkways. I strolled through the neighborhoods near the water, and discovered that many gardens took on an entirely new appearance and feeling during the hours between sunset and dusk. I noted that many easily converted into special private event spaces and how the use of lighting could give a garden a spectacular appearance at night. As for the city’s public garden spaces, the thoughtful ambient and directional lighting made those areas very accessible for the public. In the last 6 months I was invited to several private gardens so that I could continue my research. Each time I visited a new space I observed how the gardeners grouped the plants, where they employed water as a relaxation tool, and how they used mature plants as a foundation to ground the newer additions. I saw sculptures, stone walls, and “botanical backdrops” that wrapped the garden spaces with flowers, shrubs, perennials and annuals. These “private garden worlds” provide a haven from the stress of the city. What I love about Charleston (among many things) is the way the landscapers and gardeners create restful environments for beauty, contemplation, and relaxed socializing.

A current view of the rear portion of the courtyard

A current view of the rear portion of the courtyard, facing northwest.

After seeing so many gorgeous gardens in downtown Charleston and in the neighboring communities, I realized that the new Gibbes Garden has to follow the spirit of the city. It needs to become a haven for residents and tourists of the city, and it has to be an urban garden that reflects the artistic mission of the museum. This new garden must be contemplative, restful, artistic, and most important of all—an inspiration for everyone. At my home, I have a large garden with a meadow that looks out onto a regional valley near the foothills of the Berkshires. That is where I go when I need to clear my head. The romance and beauty of a garden can be the key to artistic inspiration.

An architectural rendering of the Gibbes Courtyard as viewed from the first floor interior of the renovated museum.

An example of an architectural rendering of the Gibbes Courtyard as viewed from the first floor interior of the renovated museum.

The next step involves bringing in the pros to help us plan the exterior grounds that surround the museum. After conducting a proposal and interview process, we are pending Board approval on the selection of a landscape architect to create and implement a new courtyard design. Just as planning any great work of art, the composition of elements in a garden must provide cohesion and contrast, inviting the eye to move around the space and find places of rest. The Gibbes Museum strives to preserve and promote the art of Charleston and the American South—soon the garden will do the same thing. I can’t wait to walk into the museum and see a brand new, artful garden through the large windows at the back of the building!

Jeff Daly, museum designer and guest blogger

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