This year, the University unveiled its
plan for a $35 million building project that would add 56,000
square feet to the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Architect
Brad Cloepfilo of Allied Works Architecture designed the proposed
addition.

Angela Cesere

The new space would extend the museum into the side courtyard
that runs between the museum and Angell Hall and toward State
Street. It would almost double the current size, taking it from
40,572 square-feet to 97,346 square feet.

The concept behind the proposal is that one of the additions
would extend toward the city and the other toward the campus,
representing a connection between the Ann Arbor community and the
college.

The addition would be, at the same time, both a semi-closed-off
courtyard from which to appreciate art away form the hectic life of
a University student and a link between everyday life and the
displays. The new and improved museum is also supposed to create a
balance between materialism and transparency through its interplay
of stone, steel and glass. The question of course is, will it
achieve this balance?

On first glance, the conceptual drawings for the additions seem
to lean too far toward materialism. In order to expand the museum,
the grass and trees that now serve as a picturesque bit of nature
on a student’s walk to class will have to be paved over. So
much of Central Campus — with the exception of the Diag and
the Law Quad — is taken up with masonry buildings and
concrete walkways that you want to hold on to every bit of
greenery, no matter how small. In this respect, the addition is
paving over paradise.

When looking at the addition from the perspective of an art
lover, however, the addition will open up new and exciting
opportunities.

The plan is to take the current “greenery” and
basically convert it into a courtyard that can house outdoor
exhibits. Instead of destroying the current natural landscape, the
plans are simply bringing art and nature into a cohesive
harmony.

Up until now, with the exception of the few sculptures on
Central Campus, North Campus has been the only area at the
University able to boast a coming together of art and nature. From
the Wave Field to the treble-clef sun dial by the School of Music
and the natural scenery that abounds, North Campus has been known
as the haven for art students. The Museum of Art was but a faint
beacon amidst the hustle and bustle of Central Campus.

Now, with the planned additions, the Museum of Art will be a
true reserve of both nature and art. It will bring a new zeal to
the artistic culture of campus and of the Ann Arbor community as a
whole.

 

If you can’t manage to pull Sarah away from her tree,
you can reach her instead at
“mailto:petesara@umich”>petesara@umich.

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