After a three-week shutdown, Sheldon Museum of Art will reopen Aug. 11 with three new exhibitions, freshly painted walls, updated lighting, revamped landscaping and new operating hours.
“It takes a lot of choreographing whenever we install new exhibitions, but this time it was a little more crazy than usual,” said Wally Mason, director and chief curator at the museum. “We went through 40 gallons of paint, had a crew in here for an entire week installing new energy-efficient LED lighting in the Great Hall, moved a major sculpture and placed 121 items — 120 of which are from the Sheldon’s collection — on display in our galleries.”
While projects inside have progressed behind locked doors, updates outside, including landscaping changes and the relocation of “Wind Sculpture III,” have been the most visible to the public.
Designed by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, the 20-foot-tall, fiberglass sculpture depicts a brightly colored bolt of fabric unfurling in the wind. The sculpture, on display for the last two years on Antelope Valley Parkway near R Street, has been relocated to Sheldon’s west entrance.
“This new location is great because it allows people to walk right up to the sculpture and experience the design — something you could not do when it was on display along Antelope Valley Parkway,” Mason said. “The Sheldon acts as a perfect backdrop to this amazingly vibrant and active sculpture.”
The sculpture location will also provide a new detail to the backdrop to Jazz in June performances. The project, which includes lighting, will be completed with the installation of pavers.
Additional exterior projects have included refurbishing fountains in the sculpture garden and the removal of shrubs, which has opened up the landscape, allowing visitors to better view artworks and the design of the landmark Philip Johnson building.
Inside, Sheldon will showcase a trio of new fall exhibitions and new artworks within the museum’s six permanent collection galleries.
The new exhibitions include “Sheldon Treasures,” which is an ongoing, rotating gallery installation of the museum’s most iconic objects, including artworks by Edward Hopper, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Stella and Grant Wood.
The other exhibitions, all of which are open through Dec. 31, include:
“Now’s the Time” — Riffing on bebop musician Charlie Parker’s 1945 tune of the same name, “Now’s the Time” highlights the influence of New York School artists on post-World War II American art. The exhibition features painting, photography and sculpture created between the late 1930s through 1970. Notable artists featured include Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Lee Krasner, Norman Lewis, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, David Smith and Clyfford Still.
“Family Style” — Artworks in this exhibition depict nuances of family relationships. The selection of objects offer unique perspectives on marriage, parenthood, family life and genealogy.
“Re-Seeing Sheldon’s Permanent Collection” — On display in the museum’s permanent galleries, this exhibition allows for the viewing of new acquisitions, rarely-exhibited objects and collection favorites. The galleries showcase the Sheldon’s permanent collection in unique ways, giving visitors the chance to experience the artworks in new ways.
Along with new exhibitions, Sheldon will open with updated operating hours. For the first time in the museum’s history, Sheldon will be open to the public seven days a week. Like nearly every other university-based art museum, including all cohorts at Big Ten institutions, Sheldon has previously been closed on Mondays.
“Being closed on Mondays meant the museum was closed for 20 percent of the time classes are in session at the university,” Mason said. “That just doesn’t make sense. We are a part of the university and we want to be open and accessible when the students are here.
“This means we’re open more hours than any other museum in the Big Ten. I like being able to say that to people.”
New Sheldon hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Sheldon will also not be open for home games during the Husker football season.
Additional maintenance projects completed during the shutdown include a new paint job inside the museum and the installation of a chiller plant to help the museum maintain humidity levels for preservation of artworks.
Sheldon re-opens to the public on Aug. 11. Learn more about the museum and exhibitions.