The Biggs Museum of American Art is filled with stunning antiques and beautiful paintings. But some of its newest works aren't hanging on walls or displayed in cases.They're among the $1.8 million in renovations that were recently completed at the 21-year-old museum on Federal Street.
The Biggs Museum of American Art is filled with stunning antiques and beautiful paintings.
But some of its newest works aren’t hanging on walls or displayed in cases.
They’re among the $1.8 million in renovations that were recently completed at the 21-year-old museum on Federal Street.
“The renovations were something we wanted to undertake for a couple of reasons,” Biggs curator Ryan Grover said. “We wanted to just basically create a better environment for the safekeeping of our collection, now and into the future. Additionally, we want to use the space to create more artist opportunities within Delaware, more places for people to exhibit and show, more educational opportunities and finally we want to be able to attract more people.”
Any visitor who hasn’t stopped by the museum in the last year will most likely first notice the three-story atrium that has been added to the building’s main entrance and a new sign was built in the front.
The renovations, which first began in 2011, also included expanding the museum from the top two floors of the building to the ground level, which previously housed the Delaware Welcome Center, which has since been relocated to the Delaware Public Archives building.
The first floor of the museum now houses a gallery with rotating exhibitions, the earliest pieces in the museum’s permanent collection and the Child HELP Foundation Gallery, which is a space dedicated to family and kid-friendly activities and camps.
The four-person staff that keeps the Biggs running also been moved inside the building from the museum’s former offices on State Street.
On the second floor, additional space has been allocated for the storage of new donations and items that have been rotated out of the museum’s galleries.
“This was a huge addition for us,” said Stephanie Adams, the museum’s community relations manager. “This is really a way for the public to still see objects when they are not on display. We had started to outgrow the space we had before and this is a way to grow the collection, enhance the collection and treat it properly.”
The newly-renovated Biggs also found a use for the art books it’s acquired over the years, with the addition of a new, non-lending research library on the second floor.
And what was once a first-floor coat closet has converted into a museum gift shop that sells works made by Delaware artists. A new coat room now includes lockers that visitors can use to store items.
The renovations were made possible by a capital campaign the museum began in 2010, and continued until last month, even as work was proceeding.
The fundraising effort ended up collecting $2 million, a little more than its original goal of $1.86 million.
Adams said the museum plans to use the additional $140,000 to purchase new technology, including iPads and audio tour equipment for guests to use as they explore the museum.
“We were just so thrilled to raise the money to do these things, so now we’re in the development phase, figuring out what we are going to do next,” Adams said. “We just really want to enhance the galleries through technology.”