New Bedford Art Museum Artwork Renovation Expansion Plan Update

NEW BEDFORD – The New Bedford Art Museum / Works of Art! (NBAM) is getting closer to its plans for expansion and renovations.

“When you put the visuals in there and you put the narrative in there, everybody gets so excited about it,” NBAM executive director Ashely Occhino said after the museum unveiled the latest architectural renderings at an event. Friday.

The museum’s plan is to renovate all three floors of its building at 608 Pleasant St. Occhino said the primary focus will be to double the size of the gallery and rebuild the educational space. NBAM’s plans also include improving security and environmental controls.

Currently, the municipal housing and community development office is located on the second floor of the building. Mayor Jon Mitchell has confirmed plans to move the department to another office space so the museum can occupy the entire building.

Additionally, Occhino says accessibility will be a major part of the upgrades. New handicapped-accessible bathrooms and larger elevators will allow any guest to have full access to the museum.

Destination: NBAM – New Bedford Art Museum expansion plan progressing step by step

“The museum can really be a progressive institution,” Occhino added. “We need a nice, big and wide lift for a chair user. So I can accommodate several people there.

A rendering of the ground floor gallery space

The museum is working with Boston-based architecture firm Machado Silvetti for the proposal.

While Occhino would not provide details on the cost of the proposal or how much has already been raised, she said, the museum is seeking to fund the project with 50% of funds coming from public sources.

Funding sources include the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Cultural Facilities Fund, New Bedford Community Preservation Act funds, American Rescue Plan Act funds, historical surety bonds and tax credits, and “work alongside government at the city, state and federal levels,” she added. an email response.

Build a destination attraction

The art museum was identified in Mitchell’s 200-page Arts & Culture Plan released in 2018 as a cultural development opportunity for the city.

Occhino says they took the arts and culture plan as a roadmap. “It’s kind of all of those building blocks that have been put in place, and we’re just continuing to build on that.”

NBAM’s goal is to become a destination museum for the region and the state, she added.

Following:An additional $1 million to boost local arts and culture

At a reception last Friday, the Art museum administration, architect Machado Silvetti Austin Ward and Mitchell spoke to museum staff, trustees, committee members and arts supporters about the latest plans.

Architect Austin Ward, left, Mayor Jon Mitchell, NBAM Board Chair Caroline Conzatti and NBAM CEO Ashley Occhino gathered for the reception last Friday to unveil the latest expansion plans of the museum.

“I think with everything that’s happened in the last 18-19 months, it’s nice to have more exciting times for us where people can really rally around us,” Occhino said. .

“There was just a good buzz in the room.”

Short term plans for the museum

As for a timeline, Occhino says they don’t have a solid answer. “It’s about taking our concept and tweaking, tweaking, tweaking, and then eventually you have the building plans that you hand off to a contractor,” she said.

“There is no better opportunity than now.”

In the meantime, the museum has already started making small improvements such as adding banners outside the building to be more visible to tourists.

In this file photo, Fitz Lamarre looks at a photo of civil rights leader John Lewis as he paints him in a mural, which he is creating inside the New Bedford Art Museum for an upcoming Uncommon exhibition Threads: The Works of Ruth E. Carter.

Since May, the museum has presented “Uncommon Threads: The Work of Ruth E. Carter,” a solo exhibition celebrating the Massachusetts-born, Academy Award-winning costume designer who has a 30-year career in Hollywood.

Carter designed costumes for films such as “Black Panther”, “Malcom X” and “Selma”. The exhibition ends on November 14.

Oscars exhibition:The New Bedford Museum of Art will exclusively spotlight the Oscar-winning costume designer

In December, NBAM will present a “Members’ Exhibition” showcasing artwork from across the region such as paintings, drawings, mixed media, photography, ceramics and more.

New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks!  invites local teens to apply for the Teen Artist Internship Program.

Occhino also hopes that with the renovations it will attract better exhibits that will lead to stronger programming to ultimately help improve residents of the city.

“Ultimately, this project will truly transform culture and art in New Bedford,” Occhino said. “There are so many positive reasons for this to happen.

“Both for the city and for the building itself.”

Standard-Times editor Seth Chitwood can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @ChitwoodReports. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.

Mildred D. Field