After years of anticipation, the Asheville Art Museum will commence its regular hours on Thursday, November 14, at 11 a.m. There will be a series of ticketed and members-only events leading up to the opening, as well as a free, public ribbon-cutting and preview of the museum on Wednesday, November 13, at 1 p.m. “The new and expanded spaces allow for a robust schedule of educational programming for all ages and abilities, renowned traveling exhibitions, new curatorial approaches and a fresh interpretation of our growing collection,” says executive director Pamela Myers.
The 54,000-square-foot facility cost $24 million and increased the museum collection’s gallery space by 70 percent. Highlights of the museum include the rooftop sculpture terrace and café, a 15-foot viewing window called “The Oculus,” the Windgate Foundation Atrium and the Wells Fargo ArtPLAYce for hands-on creative experiences. There will be several opening exhibitions on display, including Intersections in American Art, a chronological and thematic reinterpretation of the museum’s collection of American Art from the 20th and 21st centuries. “The Museum has long been committed to placing the cultural heritage and contemporary creative scene of this region in dialogue with developments in American art in general, sharing with all the mutual influences over time,” says Myers. Another opening exhibition, Appalachia Now!, features the work of 50 Appalachian artists curated by Jason Andrew. “This show needed to be reflective not only of the ambitious renovations of the new museum but also the ambitious nature of the contemporary artists who would be featured in such a show,” says Andrew. The exhibition focuses on artists with less institutional recognition, many of whom have never been featured in a comprehensive museum setting such as this. “It’s certainly a statement for the Asheville Art Museum to be investing in its contemporary artists who live and work in the region. In a way, it sets a precedent from the past and hopefully lays the groundwork for the future.”