California State University, Long Beach
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Groundbreaking Begins UAM Renovations

Published: June 2, 2014

CSULB celebrated the groundbreaking, actually wallbreaking, of an expansion to its University Art Museum (UAM) with a special ceremony on May 29.

Designed by the renowned Los Angeles-based architecture firm Fred Fisher and Partners (FFP), the project includes a new easy-to-find entrance and plaza that will attract and welcome visitors to the UAM as well as a 3,000-square-foot expansion of the galleries for the display of the museum’s permanent collection.

The project is part of a campaign that raised about $850,000 for the entrance and renovations to the Steve and Nini Horn Center inside the building.

Leading donors for the campaign are Sylvia and Ronnie Hartman and Elaine and Barney Ridder. Both couples gave $100,000 for the project. Sylvia Hartman, who is a member of the University Advisory Board, spoke during the program along with Helen Molles, who represents the Museum Docent Council and has spearheaded two docent fundraisers for the entrance campaign. Elaine Ridder, long-time member of the museum, served on the Museum Contemporary Council, a group dedicated to growing the museum’s permanent collection. The museum lobby will be named for the Hartmans, and the Ridders will name one of the new walls that will flank the entrance.

“We are very excited to be breaking ground on a new plaza, entrance and gallery expansion designed by Fred Fisher and Partners,” said UAM Director Chris Scoates. “Without good friends and donors this would not be happening. We really are creating a bridge to students and the community.”

The goal of the new plaza is to provide a space for student activities, including concerts, performances, receptions, Wi-Fi, and, of course, museum programs.

Fred Fisher, architect and long-time friend of the museum, added, “The UAM plaza is intended to create a new campus public space as well as an entry plaza to the museum. The highly trafficked campus walkway that passes the UAM entrance is an ideal mixing ground for students, faculty and visitors.”

“We’ve been extremely fortunate to work with Fred Fisher and Partners, a firm long known for innovative and forward-thinking designs that are sensitive to existing site conditions and surrounding historical architecture,” said Christopher Miles, interim dean for the College of the Arts.

Fisher’s design exposes the once-hidden glass storefront entrance to the museum. The configuration of the two solid panels flanking and, celebrating the entrance to the UAM makes it the focal point of the plaza and, at the same time, provides a “canvas” for artwork.

“FFP has done an amazing job in developing designs that expand the UAM’s capacity and flexibility for display, presentation, education, and community engagement and that honor the Killingsworth-designed building where the museum resides,” Miles said.

The museum’s new permanent gallery expansion into the east wing of the Horn Center building significantly increases the exhibition space and, for the first time in the museum’s history, allows for the regular display of works from the permanent collection, including the first opportunity in 15 years to put a selection of the Gordon F. Hampton Collection on long-term display.

“This begins a new era for the museum as we can start to showcase our amazing collection of works on paper and our Hampton Collection, which features seminal works by Al Held, Michael Goldberg, Adolph Gottlieb, Lee Krasner and Milton Resnick,” stated Scoates.

The UAM began as a campus gallery in 1973 and was first accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1984. As the first accredited museum in the California State University system, the UAM maintains high standards and ranks among the top 10 percent of the 16,000 museums in the United States.

Its mission to present education and exhibition programs that blur the boundaries between visual arts and design, technology, music and contemporary culture. The museum provides a forum for the investigation of contemporary visual culture and seeks to transform the traditional art museum experience from the ordinary to the extraordinary and personal.

–Shefali Mistry