David Owsley Museum of Art showcases its expansion with grand opening celebration

Topic: College of Fine Arts

September 23, 2013

Funded by more than $4 million in private donations, the expansion has added four new galleries to the museum.
Funded by more than $4 million in private donations, the expansion has added four new galleries to the museum.

After months of construction and preparation behind the scenes, the David Owsley Museum of Art is ready to celebrate by inviting the community to explore art from around the world in new displays.

The museum is celebrating completion of its recent expansion — which has increased gallery space by nearly 50 percent — with a grand opening of its new galleries and a Community Day from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29. An official dedication ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. with refreshments, music (see below for schedule of performers) and tours of the museum to follow. The event is free and open to the public.

Funded by more than $4 million in private donations, the expansion has added four new galleries to the museum, located in the Fine Arts Building. Objects of art from India, China and Japan are now displayed in Asian galleries in the new east wing of the museum while art from Africa, the Pacific Islands and the Americas is now located in its spacious west wing. Because of the expansion, 500 objects of non-Western art, some newly acquired, can now be displayed.

David Owsley Museum of Art showcase

Grand Opening of New Galleries and Community Day Schedule of Events

1 p.m.: Official dedication; shortly before the dedication, the Griot Drum Ensemble will perform “The Storyteller’s Drum,” capturing the tales of the African diaspora through music and storytelling.

1:30-4:15 p.m.: Garret Uyeno will perform Ongaku Japanese music in the Owsley Asian Art Gallery.

1:30-4:30 p.m.: Mundo Beat will take visitors on a musical tour of Latin America, showcasing a variety of music styles, in the Sculpture Court.

2-3:45 p.m.: Deborah Asante will give a storytelling performance titled "Once Upon a Time in Africa" that will allow African folktales to bring the artwork to life in the Owsley Ethnographic Gallery.

Interim Director Carl Schafer said the museum can grow beyond its reputation as one displaying predominantly American and European art. "This expansion gives us the ability to display works of art from the world’s great civilizations with dignity and sensitivity," he said.

The growth of the museum over the past 10 years — both in its collection and its physical space — was championed by retired Director Peter Blume, who worked closely to refine the museum's mission both with his staff and David T. Owsley, the museum's namesake and one of its benefactors. Owsley is the grandson of Frank C. Ball, who played an instrumental role in founding the museum in the 1930s.

Owsley has given more than 2,300 works of art to the museum, making his first donation in 1963. The museum was renamed in his honor in 2011.

"My hope,” he said, “is that the museum will expose people — particularly teachers, who so deeply impact future generations — to rich artistic traditions throughout the world and open windows and doors into their minds — broadening perspective and nurturing curiosity.”

Schafer said what makes the David Owsley Museum of Art unique is the scope and breadth of art collected and donated to the museum by Owsley and his Ball family predecessors.

"Most collectors acquire works of art narrowly within a specific culture or period of time,” he said. "Generations of the Ball family who've contributed to this museum, especially Mr. Owsley, somehow have had an intuitive ability to see genuine artistic expression in a work of art regardless of where in the world it was made."

With the museum's expansion now complete, Schafer and Blume said they are looking forward to sharing its expanded collection with a diverse audience of scholars, students and the community.

"Every work of art has a story," Blume said. "The expansion of our museum has enabled us to share those stories better."

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