Tidewater Women’s Fran Ward recently talked on location with Anne Corso, Director of Education, Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk
TW: Anne, The Chrysler Museum has been closed for 16 long months. Doesn’t it look the same as ever on the outside, except for all the trucks and construction materials?
Anne Corso: Yes, a goal of the design process was to change the overall exterior appearance as little as possible.
TW: What about the inside?
Anne: Happily on May 10th, when The Chrysler Museum reopens, the general public can see the expansion and renovation in the main building for themselves. There is more gallery space. There are better amenities, and the exhibits have been redesigned with a fresh look. It is a bright future for The Chrysler Museum! I’ll show you some highlights now.
TW: Thank you for this sneak peak I can share with Tidewater Women readers.
Anne: (In the all-purpose educational workshop) It is our pleasure. This room with tables and screens and equipment is a hands-on space where we conduct Camp Chrysler: Summer Arts Camp for Kids. Our equation is Chrysler + Kids = Creativity.
In this room our 80 docents and 40 gallery hosts have been in training for weeks, too. A typical learning exercise would utilize a piece from our collection of 30,000 artworks. The artwork would be carefully deconstructed, examined, then reconstructed. Everyone gains a closer look and a deeper understanding of the finished object and the artistic process.
TW: Can museum visitors have a similar experience?
Anne: Yes. We’re looking forward to having our visitors back in the galleries. We want them to learn more about whatever they want to learn from their museum experience. And we have set up sites for visitor-directed activities on different levels of experience. I’ll show you some.
Anne: (In the Ancient Worlds Gallery) Ancient Egypt holds many mysteries. One of the most asked questions here is...
TW: “Where’s the Mummy?”
Anne: Right! We direct people to our new video with visual explanations of objects and the mummification process. Ancient artifacts in combination with techniques from modern technology allow us to reach a more profound realization of our links to civilizations in other places and at other times.
TW: What is this screen?
Anne: Again comparing and contrasting ancient and modern materials and methods, this is a video documentation of the conservation process.
Anne: There are creative juxtapositions of art in different art forms and eras throughout the galleries (such as a traditional fabric quilt and a contemporary glass vase).
TW: Fascinating. Where are we heading now?
Anne: Through Huber Court past the new Wisteria Café, which overlooks the terrace and features a Tiffany’s stained glass window, the favorite of many visitors.
Anne: (In the Glass Introduction Room) Here we have set up a drawing station, an active space where the visitors can look at a real piece of art from the collection and interact by giving their own interpretation. There are art materials, and they can convey their ideas on paper. All their works will be displayed in that same area.
TW: What fun!
Anne: And it gets better! One of those visitor-drawn works a month will be selected and then translated by our glass artists and constructed into a glass art form in the popular Chrysler Museum Glass Studio across the street.
TW: I can’t wait to see some examples.
TW: As we walk through the galleries, I recognize familiar pieces from previous visits here. It looks as if the old displays have been edited. Everything now seems even more special.
Anne: With the re-design more space has been created. There is breathing room. Everything is being showcased. Room has been made to let the master-work objects in a medium take on a life of their own.
TW: Anne, thank you for sharing some of the excitement of the redesign and renovation. And this was just the first floor. What else would you like the readers of Tidewater Women to know?
Anne: We want them to know that the new Chrysler Museum is their Chrysler Museum. We are creating a museum that responds to their needs. We want to do everything we can for the visitor—from the youngest to the oldest. We want to give the visitors the experience they want to have.
TW: Anne, thank you for this preview. I can’t wait to come back and revisit some of my old favorite pieces and discover new favorites.
Anne: You are welcome. We look forward to welcoming readers of Tidewater Women. And everyone!
Chrysler Museum of Art • One Memorial Place, Norfolk • www.chrysler.org • 757-664-6200