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Block Museum Closing Temporarily Through Fall Quarter

Auditorium, Block Cinema expected to remain open during improvements

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August 13, 2013 | by Storer H. Rowley

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art will be closed from now through the fall quarter to make repairs on its sprinkler system and to complete some additional improvements, including a refreshed design of its lobby.

As a result, the Block’s fall program will be affected by the closure. The Block’s Pick-Laudati Auditorium is expected to remain open for Block Cinema films and lectures and for use by Northwestern classes throughout the fall. The museum will reopen in January 2014.

On Aug. 6 the Block sustained water damage to its main gallery and to the Eloise W. Martin Study Center -- the museum’s print study room -- when a pipe connected to its fire suppression system in an adjacent area burst. The museum’s art collection was not damaged. The water in the system has been turned off to eliminate immediate risk. Block staff worked diligently to remove the collection to off-site art storage in order to protect works of art during the period required to complete review and repair of the entire system.

The “Steichen/Warhol: Picturing Fame” exhibition, drawn from two major gifts of art from Richard and Jackie Hollander and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, has been rescheduled for January and will run through early April. “The Polaroid Years: Instant Photography and Experimentation,” on loan from Vassar College’s Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, has been cancelled.

Lisa Graziose Corrin, the Ellen Philips Katz Director of the Block Museum, described the Block as a cultural treasure.

“Its Dirk Lohan building is a jewel, and its collection is an invaluable resource for teaching and learning at Northwestern and for the museum’s many visitors,” Corrin observed. “These improvements will ensure the Block continues to maintain the standards expected of all great museums so we can provide dynamic programming and audience engagement in a welcoming, well-maintained environment.

“While we are disappointed that this will require us to close our doors for a period this fall, the Block will sparkle when it reopens in January with the innovative exhibitions ‘Steichen/Warhol: Picturing Fame’ and ‘The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-1940,’” she said, “as well as a vibrant, redesigned lobby and the special energy that distinguishes a museum located on the campus of a great research university.” 

The Block’s redesigned lobby space, created with James Geier of Chicago’s 555 International, also will be completed this fall. Visitors will experience this new social space when they come to Block Cinema or attend a lecture in the auditorium, including programs organized by the Chicago Humanities Festival in October.

Topics: University, Campus Life