NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – After nearly a year and a half of work, and $24 million, the Chrysler Museum of Art reopened in Norfolk Saturday morning.
Director Bill Hennessy says the redesign of the existing building and addition of two wings will make the museum’s art more accessible.
“We have more gallery space, more space to show the art that’s been waiting in our store rooms for a chance to make its debut, and then we’ve refreshed and reinstalled every part of the collection,” said Hennessy. “There’s not a piece of the 30,000 objects in the collection that hasn’t been moved and rethought and rearranged.”
Katie Iacono moved to the Freemason section of Norfolk about two years ago. Although she’s visited the Glass Studio many times, Saturday was her first opportunity to see the entire museum’s collection.
“I’ve basically been watching it progress. I’m a performance artist, and so having an art museum in your neighborhood, you’re just kind of anticipating with bated breath for it to open,” she said.
Even the museum’s trademark glass collection got an upgrade.
“We have 30 percent more space than we had before,” said Hennessy. “The collection’s been spread out, it’s light, it’s airy, there are things in there that have always been on view that I’m seeing afresh for the first time. So that’s a particular favorite.”
Iacono compared the museum to something she’d see in a bigger city, like London or New York.
“I feel like most people in Norfolk have no idea what they have on their hands,” she said. “They do a phenomenal job.”
Hennessy hopes the new design reflects the Chrysler’s philosophy.
“One of the things we’re very proud of at the Chrysler Museum is that we’re an open, friendly place in every way,” he explained. “There’s never an admission charge, we’re open six days a week to make it convenient for people to come, and you don’t have to dress up, you don’t have to have a background in art, and we love kids. We figure there’s no better time to bring a child to have a little taste of the museum.”
For more information and museum hours, visit chrysler.org.