Enhancements come to Chrysler

Shanisha Branch
Staff Writer

The Chrysler Museum is in the process of receiving a face-lift, bolstering exhibits and overall style.

Breath-taking glass fixtures, vintage collections of European and American paintings and a classified selection of sculptures can be found in the Chrysler Museum of Art. But what’s new at Chrysler? With a new renovation plan scaling $24 million, many more citizens will be viewing what Chrysler has to offer.
The museum is well known for its immense collection of glass art with more than 10,000 pieces ranging over three thousand years of human history. The museum houses a glass studio that attracts scholars, students and artists alike where a class is held on the art of glassblowing and flame-working.
Along with its glass studio, the museum holds an astounding mixture of paintings and sculptures, modern and contemporary art, and antique photography. The Chrysler owns over 30,000 pieces which spans the mid- 1st century to the twenty-first century.
Walter P. Chrysler Jr., the founder of the Chrysler, was an avid collector of paintings and an enthusiast of art. He collected over seven decades of art when he toured Europe and brought most of his items back. Walter had a passion for the arts at a young age, at only fourteen years old, he owned his first Renoir painting. He obtained over eight thousand pieces of glass, which were held in Massachusetts until 1971 when Walter decided to move his collection to the Norfolk Naval Museum of Arts and Sciences. This building soon became the Chrysler Museum of Art.
Upcoming renovations of this historical monument include up-to-date art galleries with extra space, new modern restaurants, handicap access and overall eco-friendly devices throughout the museum. The museum repairs are being funded by a capital campaign of 45 million, and of that, 24 million is going towards the expansion. The rest of the money will be going to the renewal of the glass studio and additions of three novel curators along with special exhibitions and educational programming.
The renovations will allow for one-third of additional space that will enable the museum to display all the remaining glass art that has been in storage before the expansion. Jack Hennessy, the museum director, states that no matter how old you are “there is something interesting and engaging for you.” However, the museum is not getting a complete head-to-toe makeover: the exterior will stay the same and the interior will be expanded to keep its original charm. The extra developments will create “a new greener Chrysler together as well as an even more exciting one to visit,” said Jack Hennessy.
While the expansion and renovations are underway, the museums main building is closed and most items are in storage. Nevertheless, other buildings like the Moses Myers House and the Willoughby-Baylor House and others will be displaying some of Chrysler’s art pieces around downtown Norfolk. These structures will be changing out their exhibits periodically using Chrysler’s inventory throughout the time before its reopening.
If you cannot visit the museum because it is closed or you are unable to get to one of the sites, “we’ll send an educator to your school classroom, neighborhood league, community group, or church program to talk about the museum,” said Hennessy.
The Chrysler Museum Roadshow is being used in place of the actual museum. This is how Chrysler shows its collection and staff of to the Hampton Roads area.
The Chrysler Museum of Art will reopen in the spring of 2014. Admission is free to the public for all ages. With the new expansion plan and renovations finished, the Chrysler Museum hopes to attract a new crowd of people, young and old, scholars and students, admirers and skeptics, sharing and appreciating Chrysler’s renowned collection.