That opportunity is at hand. Hope is making plans for a new art museum that will house and provide exhibition space for the Permanent Collection, as well as dedicated curatorial support to help care for the collection and further develop it as a teaching tool.
A strong appreciation for the importance of art has led Dr. Richard Kruizenga ’52 and Margaret Feldmann ’52 Kruizenga to provide a leadership gift for a new art museum and related curatorial and programmatic support to help enhance the educational value of the college’s Permanent Collection. With more than 1,000 objects, and encompassing centuries and traditions from around the world, the collection is a significant teaching resource with potential greater than the college’s current facilities and staffing levels have been able to realize.
The facility is to be named in recognition of a leadership gift from Richard ’52 and Margaret Feldmann ’52 Kruizenga of Irving, Texas. Pending successful completion of fund-raising, construction could begin during the coming school year, with the museum ready to open in time for the start of classes in the fall of 2012.
“This is an exciting project,” said Steve Nelson, associate professor of art and chairperson of the department. “We’re anticipating a process that will benefit the students and the community.
“A permanent display facility will allow us to select meaningfully from the collection and create displays that have greater educational and exhibit potential,” he said.
The total goal for the museum is $4,375,000, which includes construction costs of just over $3 million and a maintenance endowment of over $1 mllion, with $1.8 million left to raise. Several alumni and friends of the college have already contributed to the project, with fundraising on-going. The Kruizengas’ gift includes not only support for the construction of the museum, but endowments for its exhibition program, a new curator for the collection, and the endowment of a professorship in the department of art, which are all over and above the total museum goal.
The Kruizengas didn’t major in art at Hope. Dr. Richard Kruizenga studied economics and business, and went on to a career with Exxon, from which he is now retired. Margaret majored in sociology, later teaching at the college level. Across their lives, however, they grew to appreciate the importance of art tremendously.
“We developed an interest in art along the way, both Margaret and I, and we were fortunate to live around the world a bit and were exposed to art in all kinds of places,” Dr. Kruizenga said.
Dr. Kruizenga became very actively involved in the life of the college as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1984 to 1996. He came to appreciate the quality of Hope’s art program, and the proposed museum brought together all of his and Margaret’s interests in a way they wanted to support.
“When we heard that the college was thinking of something like an art museum, it struck a chord,” he said. “We’ve been waiting to do something for the college for some time, and it sort of clicked.”
The museum will be constructed on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street, between the De Pree Art Center and the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication on land currently occupied by a parking lot and a student-housing cottage. The design is still being finalized, but the preliminary site plan calls for an extensive plaza and green space between the three buildings.
The architect for the project is Matt Vander Borgh ’84, who as a graduate with an art major is well familiar with the locale, department, and collection. Now living in The Hague in the Netherlands and internationally acclaimed, Vander Borgh is the director of C Concept Design, which has developed projects in 19 countries on four continents.
The museum will complement the De Pree Art Center, which opened in 1982 in the former Sligh furniture factory. De Pree contains a major gallery for temporary exhibitions; studios for painting, drawing, print-making, silkscreen/lithography, photography, ceramics, and sculpture; and classroom space. What it simply cannot do, however, is make the most of the college’s collection of historic and significant works which, from an educational standpoint, is priceless.
“A gallery and a museum are distinct,” Professor Nelson said. “Galleries can display work without creating a context. Museums always create a larger narrative to best communicate to the audience. They’re creating stories that give the bigger picture.”
“A museum creates a context for looking at art work,” he said. “When we look at a work of art, we don’t look at it in isolation. We look at it in context, and from there we look at larger patterns of human behavior and cultural significance.”