Flint museum plans $8.5M expansion, renovation

David Runk
Associated Press

Detroit — The Flint Institute of Arts plans an $8.5 million museum expansion and art school renovation that includes a wing for contemporary crafts and space for artists to work with stadium-style seating so visitors can observe the creative process, officials announced Thursday.

The $5 million Contemporary Craft Wing will add more than 8,000 square feet of space to the east side of the museum’s galleries. An interior courtyard at the art school will be converted into a $3.5 million, 3,960-square-foot studio and maker space where glass and ceramics artists can work.

“This project is a game-changer for us in terms of providing exhibition and demonstration space that integrates a finished work of art with the process of how it is made,” John Henry, museum’s executive director, said in a statement.

The museum has a significant collection of glass and ceramics and the art school renovation will include glass furnaces and a metal foundry. Plans call for hosting workshops for visiting artists. The school, which was founded in 1928, has a history of teaching applied arts, museum officials noted.

“The additional space will allow us to provide live demonstrations for visitors and studio classes for children and adults,” Henry said.

The museum’s gallery expansion will make room for two recent gifts to the museum: the Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger Collection of Contemporary Ceramics and the Isabel Foundation’s Sherwin and Shirley Glass Collection of Contemporary Glass.

Construction starts this summer and the project is scheduled to wrap up in the fall of 2017.

The project is being paid for through a $17.5 million fundraising campaign that includes a $9 million endowment goal. The museum said it has raised $12.8 million of that total, which includes an $8.5 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

The art school enrolls more than 1,700 students a year, offering instruction in drawing, painting, photography, mixed media, printmaking, ceramics, glass mosaic, fiber arts and metal sculpture. The school grew in Flint’s days as an auto manufacturing powerhouse and has maintained a focus on educating the public.

“With its long history and culture of tinkering, inventing, designing and manufacturing useful — and sometimes very beautiful — objects, Flint is an ideal place for providing a contemporary craft experience for artists and visitors,” said William S. White, chairman and CEO of the Mott Foundation.





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