When the Menil Collection announced its main building would be closed for restoration "through summer 2018," those words were quite literal: Visitors will be able to visit the beloved art museum beginning Saturday, September 22—the first day of fall.
Menil Director Rebecca Rabinow described the update as a "subtle yet substantial refreshment" that included prosaic upgrades to the building's fire safety systems, updated restrooms, and refinished Loblolly pine floors. But the exhibition space was also significantly reconfigured to accommodate the museum's growing collection, which today comprises more than 17,000 objects.
Temporary exhibition space will now be used to expand displays of modern and contemporary works from artists such as Fernand Léger and Mark Rothko. Entire rooms will be devoted to individual Surrealist artists like René Magritte, Max Ernst, and Victor Brauner. There's also a new gallery for arts of the Pacific Islands, and visitors will experience a new presentation of The Image of the Black in Western Art, John and Dominique de Menil's response to appalling segregation in the United States. In short, pretty much all of the museum have been rejiggered to showcase the depth and breadth of the Menil's holdings (with the notable exception of the beloved "Witnesses" room home to Surrealist curiosities).
"Not only do the galleries honor the extraordinary legacy of John and Dominique de Menil, but they also illuminate the impressive growth of our permanent collection," Rabinow said. "We actively collect and reaffirm our commitment to living artists. I speak on behalf of the entire staff when I say that we are proud of what we have achieved and look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world as they rediscover the magic and the beauty of the Menil Collection.”
The museum also confirmed the Nov. 3 opening date for the much awaited Menil Drawing Institute, originally slated for October 2017. The Johnston Marklee-designed facility—built atop the former Richmont Square Apartments adjacent to the Cy Twombly Gallery—will hold bragging rights as the first building dedicated to the exhibition and study of drawing in the United States. A career-spanning survey of drawings from American artist Jasper Johns will inaugurate the space.