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Mace & Crown | March 20, 2018

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Construction on campus: The Barry Art Museum

Amber McCluney | Contributing Writer

Looming over the corner of 43rd St. and Hampton Blvd. sits a mysterious behemoth metal skeleton of a building which seemed to spring up out of nowhere. The drab spaces between the support beams are often illuminated by fluorescent orange and yellow construction vests, buzzing from one end of the construction site to the other, foreshadowing the eventual life bursting from within.


The Barry Art Museum is a $12 million project made possible by an extraordinary $35 million donation, the largest in Old Dominion University’s history, from philanthropists Richard and Carolyn Barry. The couple created the Old Dominion University Museum Foundation, which will run the museum.


Saunders & Crouse Architects are the masterminds behind the design of the 24,000-square-foot two-story establishment. One of the most notable characteristics of the design is a giant glass façade which will curvaceously grace the front of the museum.


As for what the museum will contain, Museum Director, Jutta Page, says, “The works of art on view and owned by the museum will not be limited to any particular media,” and aside from glass and sculpture, she says, “the founders’ collection is focused on American 20th and 21st century paintings and rare examples of historic dolls and automata.”


In addition to beautifying campus, the museum will serve as a physical area of education, something Art History Program Director Vittorio Colaizzi, says is inherent to art students’ ability to learn. He says the study of art “requires long and thoughtful encounters with actual works of art, not reproductions.”


According to Assistant Professor Jared Benton, the presence of the museum may even allow for internship and curatorial opportunities.


The excitement throughout the art department at ODU is evident, but for the community as a whole, the museum might have a significant rippling effect. Colaizzi says, “A museum of this caliber on campus will place ODU into a higher echelon of schools who make it clear that visual art is valued as an end in itself.”


Such a transformation will likely draw visitors from the far reaches of Hampton Roads and beyond. More visitors will mean more parking problems, an issue that’s haunted campus for eons. Page says that in order to alleviate this, the museum is working with ODU’s parking authority to negotiate parking in the 43rd St. parking garage for visitors and staff members.


Weather allowing, the Barry Art Museum is on schedule and set to open by the end of 2018.