| Sep 2, 2011 |
SCAD opens contemporary art and design teaching museum
Boh staff
By Staff

A significantly expanded and re-imagined SCAD Museum of Art, conceived and designed expressly to enrich the educational milieu for SCAD students, professors, and art and design enthusiasts, reopens

to the public on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Galleries act as extensions of the traditional classroom with one square foot of academic space for every square foot of exhibition space. The learning laboratories are specifically designed to facilitate the learning experience – wide hallways and doorframes allow for easy movement and study of large works of art, and storage facilities located among the classrooms allow access to all of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)’s collections and temporary works.

The museum’s programming is led by SCAD Executive Director of Exhibitions Laurie Ann Farrell, and newly-appointed Chief Curator of Exhibitions Isolde Brielmaier. The inaugural lineup of exhibitions sets the tone for the roster of national and international, renowned and emerging artists whose work will be presented in the museum: Bill Viola, “The Crossing”; Liza Lou, “Let the Light In”; Kendall Buster, “New Growth: Stratum Field”; a solo exhibition of recent works by Kehinde Wiley; and selections from the SCAD Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection, including the Evans Collection of African American Art, presented in the new Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies within the museum.

“SCAD has a tradition of fostering innovative and dynamic art experiences, and the SCAD Museum of Art advances this rich tradition,” says SCAD President Paula Wallace, who initiated and oversaw the development of the expanded museum in Savannah. “Rather than a place to view artworks in isolation, our museum is a kinetic think-tank, a collaborative wellspring of ideas and inspiration for SCAD students and professors.”

In keeping with the university’s mission, a year-round program of exhibitions, installations, performances and museum programs and events will engage with SCAD’s 41 majors and more than 50 minors - from fashion and fibers to painting and sound design. This programming will also provide students and professors across all disciplines a collaborative space to experience celebrated works of art and design, and to interact with the renowned and emerging artists who create them.

The new museum joins past and present by uniting the ruins of the Central of Georgia Railroad 1853 depot, a National Historic Landmark and the only surviving antebellum railroad complex in the country, with 65,000 square feet of new space. At 82,000 square feet total, the revitalized and re-envisioned structure honors the historical elements of the older buildings, preserving parts of the ruins as they exist today, while also featuring modern applications and materials. An 86-foot-tall steel and glass lantern punctuates the museum design and will soon adorn the Savannah skyline with a beacon of light.

The design of the new museum was conceived by President Wallace and Senior Vice President for College Resources Glenn Wallace. SCAD alumnus and professor Christian Sottile of Sottile & Sottile Architects executed the design, and it was supervised by SCAD alumnus Martin Smith, executive director of design and new construction. 

“All SCAD facilities are nonpareil in design and in provenance, in form and in function – and when setting about to plan the museum, this distinct legacy guided our vision to create an inspired educational space,” says Glenn Wallace. “The museum engages with the fabric of its history, weaving textures of long ago with cutting-edge design. In many respects, it is a work of art in its own right – a manifestation of the dynamic and unrivaled art and design experiences that it will inspire.”

The expansive facility includes galleries and classrooms, a 250-seat theater, a terrace and outdoor projection screen, a conservation studio, a museum café, and an event atrium. The museum is home to two new signature galleries: the Walter O. Evans Center for African American Studies, which boasts one of the most significant collections of African American Art in the United States, and the André Leon Talley Gallery, which celebrates style and design in its myriad forms.  

SCAD Museum of Art also features breakthrough technology, highlighted by a state-of-the-art interactive orientation center in the museum’s entry hall. Designed by Pentagram exclusively for the museum, this 10-foot-long touch pad delivers information and images of the facility, exhibitions, artists and museum events.

In addition to exposing students to the work of lauded visiting artists, the museum will also present rotating exhibitions that feature selections from the Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, the Earle W. Newton Collection of British and American Art, as well as from SCAD’s permanent collection, which include works by Salvador Dalí, Nicholas Hlobo, Richard Hunt, Willem de Kooning, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe, Wangechi Mutu, Pablo Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Carrie Mae Weems.

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