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Mayor Greg Fischer Newsroom


Speed Museum Exceeds Funding for $50 Million Expansion

Tuesday May 7, 2013

The Speed Art Museum announced today that it exceeded its $50 million Changing Speed fundraising goal for the Museum’s major renovation and expansion project by $334,000, bringing the total amount raised to $50,334,000. The success of the campaign allows for the completion of Phase I and II of the Museum’s master plan, which includes a new North Building, a central utilities building and an art park and piazza.

“The overall Museum campaign is the largest ever undertaken by a cultural organization in Louisville,” said Allan Latts, Chair of The Speed Art Museum’s Board of Trustees. “When we began the feasibility study, many thought we could only raise $15 million and to have exceeded our stretch goal of $50 million just shows the incredible support this community has for the Speed.”

Civic leader Christy Brown announced an additional family gift, made in honor of her late husband, Owsley Brown ll, which brings the Brown family’s total project contribution to $18 million, the largest gift ever from the family. The additional gift, which is incremental to the $50 million campaign, will permit the Speed to complete the third phase of its master plan. This final phase includes the addition of a new South Building and extensive renovations to the current building.

The new 9,500 sq. ft. South Building will include additional gallery space and a state-of-the-art theater, showcasing digital, 16mm and 35mm film capabilities. “The moving image is the new medium for our times,” said Owsley Brown lll, documentary filmmaker and son of Christy and the late Owsley Brown ll. The South Building will also feature the “Center for Kentucky Art” in a renovated 5,600 sq. ft. gallery in the lower level of the current Speed building. It will showcase the Speed’s significant collection of early Kentucky fine and decorative arts, including paintings, sculptures, extraordinary furniture, silver and other objects. Many of these antiquities were recently acquired through the generosity of the Noe Family.

“Our family is committed to strengthening the Speed’s role as a cultural focal point for Louisville,” said Christy Brown. “The expansion will rejuvenate the spirit of the Speed and create a dynamic location to explore and enjoy precious art and history. We are giving this gift to the community – its children, its artisans and its many visitors. Our hope is that the Speed will serve as an inspiration to many for decades to come.”

The Brown’s gift allows the Speed to finish renovations and expansion in a short three-year time period, which is a contributing factor in reducing the overall cost of the entire master plan.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Brown family. Without their support, this final phase of the master plan could have taken more than ten years to complete,” said Lisa Resnik, Chief Operating Officer and Co-interim Director of The Speed Art Museum. “The Board of Trustees and staff have invested years of research into master planning for the Speed’s expansion and to see it take flight thanks to our many generous donors is exciting and is sure to transform Louisville’s arts community.”

"This important project is a catalyst, an inflection point, as we continue our journey to become a city of ideas and entrepreneurship. Arts are at the root of making that happen," said Mayor Greg Fischer.

Immediately following the announcement, demolition began on the 1972 Building at the Museum. Construction on the North Building will begin in the summer of 2013 and construction of the South Building will commence in fall 2013. All construction and renovation should be complete by the winter of 2015, with grand re-opening celebrations slated for early 2016.

The new 62,500 sq. ft. North Building will be largely transparent and will create one of the finest experiential art museums in the country. It will double the museum’s overall square footage and nearly triple the gallery space from the existing wing.

The expansion will create a new state-of-the-art-space for larger special exhibitions, contemporary art galleries, a family education welcome center, indoor/outdoor café, museum shop and a multifunctional pavilion for performances, lectures and entertaining. Additionally, the new Elizabeth P. and Frederick K. Cressman Art Park and public piazza will feature a sculpture garden that will engage students and museum visitors. The Art Park will give the thousands of University of Louisville students who walk past the Speed each day on the adjoining Belknap Campus the ability to mingle with great art and architecture.

The total expansion effort encompasses approximately 220,000 sq. ft. over five acres, including 79,600 sq. ft. of renovation, 75,000 sq. ft. of new construction, and 135,000 sq. ft. of landscape improvements.

Internationally renowned museum designer Kulapat Yantrasast of Los Angeles-based wHY Architecture created the design, in association with K. Norman Berry Associates of Louisville. Landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand from Boston designed the concept plan for the Museum’s setting along South Third Street on the northwest corner of the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus and local Landscape Architects, Carmen and Associates designed the landscaping plan.

Louisville philanthropist Hattie Bishop Speed founded the Speed Art Museum in 1925 with a belief in the power of art to change people’s lives. The Speed’s first building was designed by Louisville-based architect Arthur Loomis and opened in 1927; new structures were added in 1957, 1972, 1983 and 1996. The renovated Speed will have a natural flow through the building with a 67% increase in space for special exhibitions.

The Museum is currently closed for the renovation and expansion through 2015. “Local Speed” – the Museum’s temporary home - was established recently in downtown Louisville’s trendy Nulu district at 822 East Market Street. The Nulu space has 6,000 sq. ft. of special exhibit and programming areas as well as administrative offices for museum staff.

Despite the closure, the Speed continues to play an important role in the cultural and educational life of the region through the Speed About Town community outreach initiatives, workshops, tours and art-related school programs. For more information on upcoming programs and events, visit www.speedmuseum.org.

About the Speed Art Museum

The Speed Art Museum is Kentucky’s largest art museum with a collection that spans 6,000 years of human creativity. An independent museum located on the campus of the University of Louisville, the Speed continues to play an important role in outreach initiatives, workshops, tours and art-related school programs. The Museum is situated at a crossroads between the city and the University of Louisville, adjacent to the busiest pedestrian thoroughfare on the University’s campus. The Speed is currently closed and undergoing a multi-phase expansion and renovation that includes a new North and South Building, 150 seat theater, Art Park and a public piazza. To view a virtual tour or for more information visit www.speedmuseum.org.