Restoring The Gleam To The IUAM’s ‘Shining Space’

Renovation of the museum's atrium is being undertaken by a Mooresville firm that has successfully tackled similar projects at the Guggenheim and the Corcoran.

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Photo: Courtesy of Indiana University

The atrium of the Indiana University Art Museum is undergoing renovation during the summer of 2011.

Event Information

Indiana University Art Museum Closes For Summer 2011

The museum will be closed during renovation, May 9-August 24, 2011. The Friday evening outdoor concert series Jazz in July will not take place.


IU Art Museum, 1133 East 7th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405

May 9-Aug 24, 2011.

Indiana University Art Museum

On Monday, May 9, 2011, the IU Art Museum closes its doors for the summer for long-anticipated renovations to the Bloomington campus landmark.

“We’re looking at an aging building that needs to be refurbished,” explains IU Art Museum Director Heidi Gealt, “and the highest priority is the leaky atrium, because that’s our most shining space.”

A Showcase Of Light And Shadow

The 110-foot high triangular, sky-lit atrium is the signature of the I.M. Pei structure, completed in 1982. The Bloomington museum is contemporaneous with the pyramids at the Louvre and the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington—other Pei projects showcasing glass construction.

Adding to the dramatic impact of the IU Art Museum’s glass ceiling is the dynamic shadow pattern the ceiling’s support grid casts across the atrium’s angular interior over the course of the day.

But the ceiling has had maintenance issues for years. Rain has leaked onto a wall adjacent to the Fine Arts Library so frequently over the years that that the color is leaching out of the wall. Additionally, it has been difficult to find an accurate match for the glass of the ceiling where it has been damaged. “The repairs have been less and less sightly,” Gealt admits.

Locally-Sourced Restoration

With funding for the atrium renovation approved by the university’s office of the Vice President for Capital Projects and Facilities, the contract was awarded to Linel Signature, a Mooresville, Indiana firm with a successful record of museum renovations around the country, including the Guggenheim Museum and the Corcoran Gallery.

Additionally, Gealt boasts, “The glass is coming from Minnesota and the gaskets are being manufactured near Louisville, so it’s an all-American project.”

Museum staff will take advantage of the summer closing to perform an IT upgrade, make improvements to its dust collection system and paint spray booth, and to begin renovations of each of its galleries.  Support for gallery restorations is being supplied by private donors.

Additionally, the Light Totem, originally a temporary fixture at the museum’s main entrance, is being re-certified for permanent installation by Risk Management and having its lamps replaced.

The museum is set to reopen August 25, 2011, marking 70 years since the institution’s founding on the Bloomington campus by Henry Radford Hope, namesake of IU’s Hope School of Fine Arts.

Yaël Ksander

Raised in Alexandria, Virginia, Yael holds a MFA in painting from Indiana University, an MA in art history from Columbia University, and a BA from the University of Virginia, where she studied languages and literature. She joined WFIU in 2000, where she hosts music and talk programs, and produces features on artists, writers, musicians and other creative people for Artworks. Yael co-hosts A Moment of Science and writes essays for A Moment of Indiana History. She enjoys getting to know WFIU listeners--from those who submit commentaries for Speak Your Mind to those who provide the comments she reads on Saturday mornings.

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