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South Coast Museum Set To Reopen After Six Year, $50 Million Revamp

Santa Barbara Museum Of Art Director Larry Feinberg in the museum's remodeled Ludington Court
Santa Barbara Museum of Art Director Larry Feinberg in the museum's remodeled Ludington Court.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art will hold a grand reopening Sunday. Admission is free.

It's a project which suffered delays due to brush fires, mudslides and the pandemic, but a South Coast museum is set to reopen this weekend after major renovations.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is celebrating its grand re-opening Sunday after a six year, $50 million dollar makeover.

"We are as excited as you can be, and we hope the community is least halfway as excited as the staff and I are," said Museum Director Larry Feinberg.

He says much of the work focused on things like seismic safety improvements, adding a new loading dock and modernizing other parts of the eight decade old facility.

But, you can see some of the gallery improvements the minute you walk through the museum’s front doors, on State Street, to the renovated Ludington Court.

A balcony in the court has been removed and walls added. Part of the reason is to reduce light from skylights, which posed a risk to light-sensitive artwork. The new walls have also created a large gallery display space, with more than three dozen works from the museum’s permanent collection.

One of the things you notice is a new stairway which takes you to an often overlooked part of the museum, the second floor. In the past, many people walked past the stairs because they were easy to miss.

And, on the second floor, some new galleries have been built.

James Glisson is the museum’s new curator of contemporary art. He's excited because the renovation include the museum's first dedicated modern art gallery space.

Another improvement at the museum is changes to the resources that help you understand the art you are seeing. The museum is replacing placards next to works with QR codes for smartphones, like those used to look at menus in restaurants.

Museum Deputy Director Eik Kahng says it's exciting to be reopening the entire facility to visitors after much of it was closed for the work during the last few years.

With roughly 2,000 square feet of additional gallery space, the museum will put on display the largest ever number of works at one time from its 25,000 piece permanent collection.

And, in the works for next year is a major Van Gough exhibition.

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art will open its new and renovated galleries to the public for the first time this Sunday. The museum will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission for the grand reopening on Sunday is free.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.