After two decades closed, the Washington Street doors at the Newark Museum are once again open, as part of a project designed to address the flurry of recent development in the downtown area.
“We see all around us how the neighborhood is changing quickly to accommodate its renewed development and growth. With this move, the Newark Museum is poised to reaffirm its role as both a cultural and business anchor in the community,” CEO and Director Steven Kern said. “With the doors open, the museum will project neighborhood vitality, stability and security.”
The initiative is part of a larger $5.5 million project in collaboration with Michael Graves Architecture and Design. Newark Museum will also seek to enhance the exterior and include a public terrace for events, as well as make over 5,000 square feet of exhibition space.
The organization also aims to become more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act by installing a lift in Engelhard Court and a wheelchair ramp to the entrance.
“In 2015, the Museum launched a plan to reopen the main entrance in order to reconnect with the rapidly growing sidewalk life on Washington Street, from the growing populations from Rutgers and the new Hahne’s Building as well as corporations such as Prudential and Audible. As a result, the museum anticipates increased public engagement,” it said in a news release. “The new plaza will connect the museum to Washington Park and serve as a new public destination, attracting more visitors to the neighborhood with increased outdoor museum programming.”
Architect Michael Graves, who was personally involved with the museum since 1976, passed away in 2015.
Preparations for this project began in April, with the official groundbreaking on May 24. Financing of the project was made possible by a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities, MCJ Amelior Foundation and the Sagner Family Foundation.
“The Newark Museum is extremely grateful for the generous support of NEH, the MCJ Amelior Foundation and the Sagner Family Foundation,” Deborah Kasindorf, the museum’s deputy director of institutional advancement said. “Additional funding and naming opportunities still exist, and we had a hard hat tour for our present supporters and interested parties.”
In 1997, in order to maintain stable conditions for “Crowning Glory: Images of the Virgin” and “The Arts of Portugal,” as well as subsequent exhibitions, the museum decided to close its main entrance from Washington Street.
Newark Museum celebrates its centennial founding for its African Art collection this year. The organization said it plans to highlight the anniversary by relocating and reinstalling the collection closest to the Washington Street entrance.
“One of the most comprehensive collections of African art in the country, the Museum’s African Art Initiative provides for 1,500 square feet of new permanent gallery space. Fully integrated into the museum’s global collections, the new galleries feature a thematic, cross-cultural display of African art, both historical and contemporary,” Newark Museum said.
The museum will remain open throughout construction. On Nov. 3, it will open the front entrance, which is to be renamed after donor Louis Bamberger, the Arts of Global Africa gallery and a visitor’s center. The additional space will host “Rockies and Alps: Bierstadt, Calame, and the Romance of the Mountains,” starting March 23, 2018.