Art lovers in Houston and around the world have long praised the University of Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum. This weekend, the celebrated site for groundbreaking exhibitions kicks off a new era.
The museum has been closed for nearly a year as it underwent renovations and an expansion. Now, it is opening its doors to showcase its new look and a dynamic new exhibition focused on the career of sculptor Tony Feher. A reception for this exhibition is set for 6 p.m., Oct. 12, and it will remain on view through March 17.
Members of the media are invited to a preview tour of the museum that begins at 11 a.m., Oct. 12. Blaffer director and chief curator Claudia Schmuckli will be available for interviews. Texas bred artist Feher also will be in attendance.
The 13,747-square-foot museum space boasts an additional entrance facing its closest parking lot (Lot 16 off Cullen Boulevard); a new staircase (replacing the previous one) and a lounge that faces UH’s Fine Arts Courtyard. The second level exhibition spaces have been reconfigured to include a media gallery for Blaffer’s public programs and an artist studio that will accommodate the museum’s educational initiatives. Approximately, 500 square feet were added to the museum. The project’s budget was $2.25 million.
“In its new guise, Blaffer welcomes visitors from the street and the courtyard with an inviting entrance on the north side and a welcoming lounge on the south. Both lead to a central reception area and the main entrance to the galleries,” Schmuckli said. “The addition of the lounge and other public areas allows for more social interaction and activity around the exhibitions.”
The museum’s design was overseen by award-winning firm Work Architecture Co. Noted design, planning and consulting firm Gensler served as the project’s local architect. Luiza Maal, UH senior project manager, supervised the project.
“The best part of this renovation is that the architects have been able to enhance the best features of the building while removing the lesser ones, giving us a facility that is state-of-the-art in its functionality and yet has lots of personality,” Schmuckli said.
For the first exhibition in its revamped space, Blaffer organized a mid-career survey of works by Feher. The sculptor has a niche for transforming everyday objects into provocative works, and 60 of his signature pieces will be showcased in the museum. Schmuckli is curating this exhibition, which premiered at the Des Moines Art Center in May. Following its run at Blaffer, the exhibition will travel to the De Cordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass., and Bronx Museum for the Arts in New York. For additional exhibition details, visit the exhibition’s website.
Blaffer Art Museum opened to the public in 1973. Named for Houston arts patron and collector, Sarah Campbell Blaffer, the museum quickly earned notoriety as a space for innovative, cutting-edge exhibitions. In addition to hosting artists’ works, the museum commissions work and organizes exhibitions that tour nationally. It also has been recognized for its educational outreach efforts including the Young Artists Apprenticeship Program (YAAP). In 2009, YAAP received a Coming Up Taller award from the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. To learn more about Blaffer Art Museum, visit its website.