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Jan. 30, 2014 Volume 35, No. 17

Move of two campus museums to Mizzou North under way

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Jeff Stafford of Terry Dowd Inc., left, and George Hagerty of U.S. Arts Inc. reassemble the Athena of Velletri (420–410 B.C.) in the Cast Gallery in Mizzou North’s main lobby. Photo by Madeline Beyer.

Grand opening of the Museum of Art and Archaeology’s Cast Gallery is Feb. 7 in the main lobby

Transforming a hospital building into a museum isn’t easy, but it isn’t rocket science, either. It’s more like a Chinese puzzle, said Alex Barker, director of MU’s Museum of Art and Archaeology.

A grand opening of the museum’s Cast Gallery will happen from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in Mizzou North’s main lobby. The Museum Store has already opened on the first floor. 

The Museum of Anthropology will move from Swallow Hall to Mizzou North this summer. 

The moves are the result of the scheduled renovation of Swallow Hall and the decommissioning of Pickard Hall, where the art and archaeology museum has been housed.

To move the art and archaeology museum’s collection of more than 16,000 artworks to Mizzou North, the former Ellis Fischel Cancer Center on Business Loop 70, everything had to happen in a specific order. Two art moving companies were hired to assist with packing the collections. 

The collections, including 19th-century casts that disassemble into hundreds of pieces, were stored in sequence so the parts could be reassembled in reverse order. 

Campus Facilities is finalizing schedules to begin construction of the museums’ galleries. The space for the Museum of Anthropology will be completed in early summer, and the space for the Museum of Art and Archaeology’s remaining galleries will be ready in late summer.

Both museums will increase in square footage, a lot of which will be used for onsite storage.

 “The focus was to use space in the building that would match up as best as possible,” said Heiddi Davis, director of space planning and management at Campus Facilities. 

For example, because the ceilings at Mizzou North are lower than those at Pickard and Swallow, the first floor, which has the highest ceilings, will house the Cast Gallery and two gift shops. The second floor will house the museums’ galleries, the art and archaeology museum collection storage, and offices for museum staff. The anthropology museum will use the ground floor for additional storage. 

“The goal is to renovate space based on the stewardship model to make a workable location to showcase the collection, not to make an architectural statement,” Davis said.

Michael O’Brien, director of the anthropology museum and dean of the College of Arts and Science, said the additional storage space is one benefit to moving to Mizzou North.

Currently, the Museum Support Center on Rock Quarry Road houses artifacts from the museum’s extensive collection. O’Brien estimates that only 1 percent of the anthropology museum’s artifacts are on display. 

Within the next couple years, the Museum Support Center will relocate to Mizzou North, and all of the two museums’ holdings will be in one location. “What this means for patrons of the museums going out to Mizzou North is it’s one-stop shopping for museums,” O’Brien said.

Last July, O’Brien, Barker and other administrators took part in a public forum to address concerns levied by some regarding the museums’ moving off campus.

O’Brien predicted that, in the long run, critics will see the move to Mizzou North as positive. “I think over time people are going to say this isn’t such a bad deal,” he said.

— Kelsey Allen