Tacoma Art Museum to celebrate groundbreaking for new museum

“At right, an architectural concept of the new Tacoma Area Museum. Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) and the greater Pierce county region are celebrating the beginning of construction for a new 50,000 square foot museum on Jan. 25 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. The celebration begins at 9:30 a.m. with an umbrella parade from the current Tacoma Art Museum (12th and Pacific Avenue), where dozens of people carrying vibrant red umbrellas will parade to the new museum site located at Hood and Pacific Avenue near Union Station. Parade participants will include Grant Elementary school students, Hilltop Artists-in-Residence, members of the South Sound arts community and friends of the Museum. The groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. at the new site and will include speeches by area dignitaries, City of Tacoma Mayor Mike Crowley, museum officials and internationally renowned architect, Antoine Predock. Attendees will be able to look at the architectural model of the new museum, listen to music by the Northwest Sinfonetta, enjoy refreshments and view artwork by local high-school students. All events are free and open to the public.The new Tacoma Art Museum is scheduled to open to the public in early 2003. The Museum will be located at Hood and Pacific Avenue in downtown Tacoma, near the University of Washington – Tacoma campus and one block from the Washington State History Museum and Union Station. The museum will be a key part of an emerging cultural and education district in downtown Tacoma where it will also be in close proximity to many restaurants and business as well as of the future Museum of Glass and LeMay Car Museum. The new Museum will have a shadow stainless steel exterior and more than 12,000 square feet of gallery space as well as a café, Mist Moss garden, museum store, resource center, educational program space, and hands-on art activity areas. We are thrilled to begin turning the dream of a new Tacoma Art Museum into a reality for the Northwest community. This is a museum is a cultural center for the region and this groundbreaking celebration is for everyone, said Janeanne A. Upp, executive director of Tacoma Art Museum. TAM’s capital campaign has currently raised approximately $23 million towards the $25 million goal: $20 million for the new building and $5 million for an endowment. Donations to the new Museum have come from a variety of sources ranging from large national foundations to small individual gifts. The City of Tacoma donated more than $5.2 million which includes cash and the gift of the land.The Museum has served the Puget Sound region since 1935 and presents exhibitions from the 1800s to the present ranging from international, national, regional and local art with an emphasis on Northwest art. TAM’s award-winning educational programs serve local school districts in seven western Washington counties.Businesses in the area are also excited about the new Tacoma Art Museum and the future of the cultural and education district in downtown Tacoma.As a Tacoma native, I look at this neighborhood as a cultural hub. TAM’s move makes sense to complete the district and the new Museum will add a modern element to the area’s historic architecture, said Pat Nagle, proprietor Harmon Brewery and Restaurant. The new museum will be defined by openness and an aura of hospitality. To the passer-by, in a car or walking, the new Tacoma Art Museum will aid and abet educational and curatorial outreach just by offering visibility of its inner workings – informing us of the journey within, said architect Antoine Predock. The Museum’s public spaces are dramatic and designed to draw in the community. Crucial to this is a grand plaza where there will be a breathtaking view of Mt. Rainier on a clear day. A visitor approaching the museum will see a partially transparent structure that is welcoming and bold, yet blends in with its surroundings. The visitor enters the clear glass lobby that will face onto Pacific Avenue and within the lobby are the Museum Store, a café, and a large event space for public gatherings. Lectures, films, performances, seminars, and special events will take place in the event space. The large display of glass art by Dale Chihuly will draw visitors into the galleries. From the lobby, one begins a gradual processional ascent through the galleries which wrap around a central atrium, filled with natural light.The first gallery the visitor will approach will be dedicated to displays from TAM’s art collection and art of the Northwest (the Bill and Bobby Street Gallery of Northwest Art). More than 12,000 square feet of galleries, the exhibition garden space will be adaptable and flexible enough to hold one large exhibition or several small ones. After visiting the Street Gallery of Northwest Art, visitors will follow a gently ascending ramp that leads to additional galleries. These new galleries will hold changing exhibitions either from TAM’s collection or traveling exhibitions. In each gallery, the visitor will have a clear sense of the relationship between the Museum and the outside environment, whether it is through natural light, materials, textures, or the mist moss garden to be located in an atrium at the center of the Museum. In addition, education programs and work space will be enhanced in the new TAM for all ages.The Gottfried and Mary Fuchs Foundation ArtWORKS and the Ben B. Cheney Foundation Studio will have separate and adequate space to accommodate both school groups and museum visitors as they create artworks that respond to the art in the gallery areas and promote experiential learning. The education wing will also encompass the Bill and Melinda Gates Resource Center will contain reference material, art educational resources and technology for a combined arts library and teachers’ resource center. It will be the only resource center of its kind in Pierce County and will be a valuable resource to teachers, students and universities in the region. The behind the scenes at TAM will also change a great deal in the new museum. A loading dock, freight elevator, gallery entrances and storage areas will accommodate large artworks easily. The storage area will store the permanent collection in an environment which provides constant temperature and humidity levels to ensure the safety of the artwork. TAM’s capital campaign has currently raised approximately $23 million towards the $25 million goal; $20 million for the new building and $5 million for an endowment. “