Conservancy approves art museum’s design

On Feb. 10, the Pack Square Conservancy board approved the Asheville Art Museum's design for a new glass structure that will serve as both an inviting entrance to the museum and a giant window into the heart of downtown.

Pam Myers, the museum's executive director, said the new structure will reflect the historic structure that now houses the museum — the former Pack Library — while serving as a major entrance to the new Pack Square Park.

Guy Clerici, who chairs the conservancy's board, said the design "complements the tranquility of the park" and will make a "wonderful addition." Fellow board member Kelly Miller said the design "redefines the museum" as a key anchor of downtown Asheville's public spaces.

The conservancy board reviews architectural changes to all buildings adjacent to the park. Myers, who also serves on board, made the presentation but recused herself from the vote on project. She was accompanied by local architect John Rogers, members of the museum's board and representatives of Beverly-Grant construction company of Asheville.

The glass wall will be the biggest outward change to the Pack Square museum, but it's just one part of a multimillion-dollar renovation plan that will double the museum's space in the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center from 24,400 square feet to 50,900 square feet. The museum plans to transform its promenade, increase its permanent exhibit space and add a rooftop sculpture garden and café.

The plans call for the museum to move into the space vacated by The Health Adventure, which is currently building a new home for itself on Broadway, called Momentum.

Work on the museum is scheduled to start about a year from now, said Myers, with completion projected for 2013. The museum has been communicating with local businesses about the construction plans. Downtown businesses have been negatively affected by years of construction on the new $20 million Pack Square Park.

The museum is expanding to accommodate increased visitation and a permanent collection that has tripled in size since 1996 and now includes nearly 2,500 artworks. Only 3 percent of that collection can currently be displayed in the museum's limited space.

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