Extreme Makeover: Museum Edition

Tampa Bay may be in a real estate slump, but the cultural sector is entering a building boom. A guide to what's opening when.

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As for The Arts condos, with a domestic recession looming, Aviram and his partners, an Israeli firm called DSR, are hoping for success with international customers in Europe, Israel, Macau, Hong Kong and China, where they've opened sales offices. "Through [DSR's] connections we are going to market outside, and we will come back when the market does," Aviram says.

The Salvador Dalí Museum: Fall 2010

Folks at St. Petersburg's Salvador Dalí Museum have known for years that their museum needs a new building because of its perilous proximity to the waterfront. At its current location in a converted marine warehouse steps from the Bay, the museum's extensive collection of paintings by art history's most notorious Surrealist is below the 10-year flood plain.

Recent hurricanes have driven home the urgency of building a new facility, says director Hank Hine. Once the need was established, the museum began to envision many changes for its future home. With HOK's Weymouth as architect, Hine is now in the late stages of hammering out a design that will not only beef up storage for the permanent collection (raising it high on a second story and enclosing it with robust walls) but also pays homage to Dalí's distinctive personality. Groundbreaking is expected to take place this fall with completion projected for late 2010.

"The die has been cast, and we are crossing the Rubicon," Hine says.

The new, 75,000-square-foot building will sit closer to downtown St. Petersburg near Al Lang Field. (Hine declined to disclose a dollar amount for the project's budget, but its footprint makes it the largest museum expansion in the area.) Exhibition space will double, allowing the museum to mount larger shows, and an outdoor garden with a maze will have sightlines to the Bay. But perhaps most importantly, a much larger reception and orientation area will offer visitors an introduction to what Hine calls "the dividend of art": its ability to convey a complex and even contradictory world in images that are intuitive even to the greenest viewer — a cornerstone of Dalí's art.

"A really high percentage of our visitors have never been to an art museum before. There's something about the personality of Dalí that makes them think, maybe I can really get this after all," he says.

One huge challenge the museum has faced during the design process is to offer its visitors — over half of whom come to St. Petersburg expressly to visit the Dalí museum — a unique destination without caricaturing its namesake. In designs, the proposed museum combines elements with two different styles, associated with two halves of Dalí's personality: a modern, box-like structure with roots in classical architecture and a more flamboyant glass element that appears to flow over the building and wrap around it.

"Dali's work is, of course, surreal. He enjoyed the abrupt contrast and surprise of morphing forms and warping things. It's not anything anyone can imitate with success, in my view," Weymouth says.

"We are staying very abstract. There will be no melting clocks ... in the architecture."

University of South Florida Institute For Research in Art: 2011-2013

At USF's Contemporary Art Museum, a longtime wish for the CAM to reap the benefits of synergy with its sister institution, Graphicstudio, drives plans for a new building. Both the museum and the printmaking workshop are grouped under the umbrella title USF Institute For Research in Art (IRA), but with separate locations on campus and, in the past, separate leaders, each has failed to capitalize on its connection to the other, says director Margaret Miller. Now at the helm of both, Miller has begun to leverage their joint power, luring contemporary artists of international repute to USF with the two-fold temptation of an exhibition at the museum and a residency with Graphicstudio's experienced printmakers.

The IRA expansion entails the construction of an additional, 40,000-square-foot building in an area adjacent to the Contemporary Art Museum, which will remain in use. Nearly three-quarters of the new space will house Graphicstudio, which currently rents space across campus. The addition of 15,000 square feet of exhibition space (more than doubling the current galleries) will enable the CAM to showcase more of its permanent collection of 5,000 artworks on a regular basis. But the crown jewel of the expansion is a 3,000-square-foot area expected to serve as an archive and study center for famed artist James Rosenquist's work in prints. Like The Arts Center's Chihuly partnership, a Rosenquist archive and study center would lend the IRA superstar caché.

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