Colonial Williamsburg plans significant expansion to Art Museums

hbridges@vagazette.com

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation announced Monday plans to expand the building containing the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg for the first time since it opened in 1985.

The $40 million expansion will add 65,000 square feet to the art museums to include a new museum entrance and 22-percent increase in gallery space, according to a release from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

"Annual visitation to the Art Museums has been on the rise for several years, but that growth will accelerate with the creation of a more visible and guest-friendly entrance, expanded exhibition galleries and improved guest services," Ronald Hurst, the Foundation's vice president for collections, conservation and museums, said in the release.

The groundbreaking for the expansion is scheduled for April of 2017.

The $40 million campaign, nearing completion, was a priority of the foundation's $600 million Campaign for History and Citizenship, according to the release. Final approval for the expansion followed recent meetings of the Board of Trustees for both the Foundation and the Art Museums.

Samuel Anderson Architects will design the expansion, and construction is expected to take two years, the release said.

The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg contain both the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

The museum's new entrance will face Nassau Street, the release said, replacing the current stair-laden entrance through the Public Hospital of 1773 that faces W. Francis Street.

In addition to increased gallery space, the expansion will result in a new lobby and a concourse with access to both museums. Other planned improvements include guest services, parking and programming.

"The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are the crown jewels of the Foundation. The collections they house are the foundation upon which we tell America's enduring story," Foundation president and CEO Mitchell Reiss said in the release.

To see a video on the planned expansion, visit history.org/expansion.

Read more in Wednesday's Gazette.

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