The Knoxville Museum of Art will soon house the most ambitious and monumental figural glass sculpture anywhere, the work of internationally renowned artist and native son Richard Jolley. This dazzling 185-foot-long, 14-foot-high sculpture, the generous gift of Ann and Steve Bailey, will be unveiled in spring 2014. The eyes of the art world will be on Knoxville as glass lovers from around the world make the pilgrimage to the KMA to experience this unparalleled masterwork by Richard Jolley. This is a defining moment and unrivalled opportunity for the KMA and for Knoxville. The gift of the Jolley installation is but the latest in a decades-long legacy of remarkable and generous gifts that have created and sustained the KMA. The largest single gift in the museum’s history, by local philanthropist Jim Clayton, led to the construction of the current building, which opened in 1990. This architectural landmark, named in Jim’s honor, was designed by esteemed American Modernist architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Influenced by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, Barnes was the “go-to” architect for art museums in the mid to late twentieth century. The KMA’s Clayton Building is a true American masterpiece. As we prepare for the installation of Richard Jolley’s monumental glass sculpture, we want to also celebrate the work of Edward Larrabee Barnes and honor the investment made by Jim Clayton and so many others by restoring the building to its original condition and enhancing the museum’s downtown campus.
The comprehensive renovation of the KMA's landmark Clayton Building begins in early 2013 with the cleaning of the exterior. The cleaning crew uses dry ice to pressure wash the Tennessee marble, restoring its original beauty and allowing the pink undertones to show through.
Once the cleaning is complete, crews take on the tedious job of re-caulking the entire building and replacing all the rubber gaskets around every marble panel. This allows for a nice tight waterproof seal along the exterior of the building.
Demolition of the museum's entry plaza and the third floor terrace begins. This is a noisy process as crews use jackhammers and bulldozers to remove the existing concrete pavers.
After the removal of the concrete pavers, the areas are sloped and waterproofed. New drains are added and the area will be weather stripped and sealed before laying the beautiful new granite pavers.
An alternate entrance is created. Museum visitors and staff enter through the gate on the North side of the building.
This phase of the work should be completed in late-July 2013 allowing the public to enter once again through the main entrance on World’s Fair Park Drive.
The front plaza continues to take shape as the new stainless steel planters are installed. Each planter weighs 3,000 pounds and will be filled with trees, shrubs, and flowers.
Old doors are removed from the front of the KMA. The front exterior doors as well the front interior doors are being replaced. New doors will enhance the beautiful new look of the front plaza.
Work on the North Garden begins!
Renovations move inside. Work begins to replace the water-stained terrazzo floors.
October was a busy month with work happening in multiple locations. Resurfacing of the gallery floors takes place. New Terrazzo floors on the main level are in the making. Concrete is poured in North Garden. The Creative Corner (kids area) is being completely renovated with walls removed and new carpeting. Painting of the exterior walls facing World’s Fair Park gives the back of the museum a new sparkle. And work in the Great Hall continues with fittings for the “Cycle of Life.”
Work in the main lobby continues in November in preparation of the museum reopening at the end of the month. Vestibule and Terrazo floors are nearly complete. The view from across World’s Fair Park shows a newly cleaned and painted building.
At the end of 2013, major progress can be seen in the North Garden as well as the downstairs restrooms. The North Garden is being leveled and sculpured into place. As winter comes to an end and spring begins, the garden will transform with new plantings and greenery.
(North Garden images provided by Jonathan Hash)
January and February brought more updates to the North Garden. Workers endured sub-freezing temperatures, as well as snow and ice, but still managed to get the patios poured for the outdoor seating area. Additionally, the entrance to the North Garden is being leveled so visitors will no longer have to walk down a steep slope from the parking lot into the garden. Trees were planted and finishing touches are being added throughout the space.
Work has shifted to the north side of the building where the North Garden will be completely redone. This will transform what was a blank grassy lawn into a beautiful and functional garden space for visitors to enjoy. It will also be a great space for events at the museum. The North Garden project should be completed by Spring 2014.
All of the work over this year is in preparation for the debut of Richard Jolley's monumental glass installation in the museum's Great Hall during the first week of May 2014.
Check this web page often for status updates and photos of the work being done. This is an exciting endeavor and we are happy to share all of the information with our visitors. Thank you for putting up with the current mess. When it is all complete, the Knoxville Museum of Art will be a beautiful place for all of Knoxville and the world to see!