The Dallas Museum of Art has announced plans for a 4.3 million dollar re-design of its entrance facing Woodall Rodgers. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports the entrance is getting redone because now people are actually walking to the museum – as much as driving to it.
Even before Klyde Warren Park became filled with strollers and food trucks, even before it opened two years ago, DMA officials figured the park would change things. There’d be a lot more pedestrians coming in that way. But that side of the museum was designed 20 years ago as basically the entrance to the underground garage.
Tamara Wootton-Forsyth is associate director of facilities at the DMA. She said, “We knew the park was going to dramatically change how people engage with the DMA. So we’ve been working on how it might change for some time.”
With $4.3 million raised from the Hamon Charitable Foundation and museum patrons Jennifer and John Eagle, there’ll be new landscaping. There’ll be new walkways for better pedestrian access from Klyde Warren. And there’ll be a new outdoor pavilion with an outdoor cafe.
Asked if the outdoor food service was a response to the popularity of the food trucks that line Woodall Rodgers, standing between Klyde Warren and the museum, Wootton-Forsyth says, “I don’t know that it’s in response. It provides yet another venue. We have the restaurants across the way [on the other side of the park], we have the Nasher. There’s going to be many venues, and it’s just going to make it much more lively down here.”
DMA director Maxwell Anderson has publicly discounted attendance as a crude and simple-minded metric when seen as the only one that matters. Besides, with the implementation of free admission at the DMA in 2012, attendance inevitably shot up at the museum. But one has to wonder: Klyde Warren opened that October, free admission went into effect three months later. How much influence did each have on the museum’s increased pedestrian traffic?
Well, the new announcement would seem to say ‘let us all join hands for the greater good.’ There’ll also be “improved vehicular circulation” and a new “outdoor exhibition space” that’ll feature a rotating series of artworks. Trouble is, the north entrance will still have the underground parking garage entrance for people to walk around.
But because so much attention has been placed on the outside plaza and what’s across the street, not much attention has been paid to the internal changes as well. A new walkway will be built from the current cafe in the Atrium through what has been part of the food service area straight through to the Fleischner Courtyard (that’s the enclosed, gravel-and-trees square on the DMA’s Harwood Street side). There’ll be yet another food service site along this walkway, near the courtyard. The Museum Store will now have its back entrance into this walkway. So the ‘commerce and concessions walkway’ will become a ‘mini-spine’ running parallel to the DMA’s main concourse
All this means that, while the DMA shut down its deluxe, upstairs Seventeen Seventeen restaurant several years ago to make way for its conservation studio, it’ll now have three different food service areas.
The full release:
Eagle Family Pledges $3 Million to the Dallas Museum of Art
For Renovation of the North Entrance, to Be Renamed Eagle Family Plaza
–Hamon Charitable Foundation Provides Additional $1.3 Million of Support–
Dallas, TX, May 26, 2015 – Dallas Museum of Art benefactors Jennifer and John Eagle have donated $3 million to the DMA for the renovation of the Museum’s North Entrance to improve the overall visitor experience. The Hamon Charitable Foundation has given an additional gift of $1.3 million for the project, for a total contribution of $4.3 million. The North Entrance, to be renamed Eagle Family Plaza, will be designed by Dallas-based landscape architectural firms Studio Outside and Hocker Design Group, with a new freestanding food service building and interior renovations to the DMA’s cafe designed by local architectural firm Morrison Dilworth + Walls. Construction will begin in August 2015 with a proposed opening in spring 2016.
In 1993, the DMA opened the Nancy and Jake L. Hamon Building, supported by a remarkable contribution from one of Dallas’s most dedicated and prominent philanthropists, Nancy Hamon, in honor of her husband, legendary Dallas oilman and civic leader Jake Hamon. Accessed by the North Entrance, the Hamon wing has become the heart of the visitor experience at the DMA. With the opening of Klyde Warren Park in 2012, coupled with the DMA’s return to free general admission in 2013, there has been a significant increase in pedestrian traffic. The modification of the North Entrance, situated between North St. Paul and Harwood streets, and facing the Park, will increase accessibility and enhance safety, contributing to an improved visitor experience. The redesign of the 20-year-old entrance includes improved vehicular circulation, enhanced pedestrian access, interior food service refurbishments and a new outdoor dining venue.
In addition, the DMA’s renovation plans include the creation of an outdoor exhibition space at the North Entrance. The first commissioned work for it will be a sculpture by British artist Rebecca Warren. The site-specific work of art, created in the United Kingdom, will be Warren’s first major commission by a U.S. museum and will serve as the first in a series of rotating works by various artists highlighted in the new north lawn of the Museum. Warren was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006 and was elected as a member of the Royal Academy of Art in 2014.
“We deeply appreciate the extraordinary generosity of Jennifer and John Eagle and the Hamon Charitable Foundation in funding the renovation of the DMA’s North Entrance,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. “These gifts ensure that our face to Klyde Warren Park will become more inviting not only for its guests and ours, but also for all those on foot in the Dallas Arts District.”
“I am delighted to make this gift in honor of my husband, John, following his six years of service as President of the Board of Trustees, and to continue our support of the Dallas Museum of Art,
said Jennifer Eagle. “We are thrilled to be part of this new, welcoming addition that will certainly enhance the visitor experience.”
The expanded Eagle Family Plaza design will fully open the DMA Cafe to the exterior. Perimeter plantings along the northeast side of the building will be replaced by a steel pavilion and wooden decking to expand seating and dining options, including the addition of an outdoor food pavilion serving as an extension of the cafe. The circular drive from Harwood Street will be replaced by a new driveway directly into the Museum garage and an expansive new lawn area to provide opportunities for outdoor programming. A new plaza for strolling and lounging will extend due north toward the Park, and a widened sidewalk bordered by refreshed landscaping will run east to west alongside Woodall Rodgers Freeway, providing safe walkability between the Museum and the Park. The Genesis, The Gift of Life mosaic by Miguel Covarrubias will remain in place. The Henry Moore sculpture Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3 will be relocated to the Museum’s Sculpture Garden at the south end of the building.
The Atrium and its interior will undergo a renovation as well. A lounge area greeting visitors upon their arrival will be added to the entrance of the Atrium, located off of the DMA’s main entrance at Eagle Family Plaza. A passageway will be created from the new cafe entry doors continuing through to the Museum’s Fleischner Courtyard. The passageway will incorporate a new DMA Cafe food service location as well as an additional entrance to the DMA’s Museum Store