Art works PRIMED:

The Interim Expansion of the Asheville Art Museum

At the end of March 2012, more than 1,500 Museum Members and patrons joined Museum Staff, Board Members and volunteers for a series of events celebrating the grand opening of Art works PRIMED, the Museum’s interim expansion project. This project entails the renovation and relocation of the Museum Shop and Visitor Services center, as well as the addition of exciting new exhibition galleries, a hands-on, interactive art space for children and families, a dedicated new media exhibition gallery, and an artist project space for site specific art installations. With nearly 24,000 ft2 added through the project, the Museum now stands at approximately 53,000 ft2 in total size. More than 100 volunteers, designers, architects and artists dedicated their time, energy and expertise to the project and were critical to its success.



A major new initiative of the Art works PRIMED interim expansion is the Art PLAYce, a new hands-on art space for children and families. This new family art center expands the Museum’s already vital educational programming. The Art PLAYce is a dynamic 1,600 square foot addition to the Museum, and will provide a new opportunity for the children of WNC to grow and learn through hands-on, interactive art activities. The Art PLAYce is self-guided and open during Museum hours for families to enjoy as part of their Museum visit. This initiative offers an array of art-based and art-making activities for children, including three-dimensional building activities based on local architecture as well as interactive installations based on artworks in the Museum’s Permanent Collection, and new, art-based curriculum.

Enhancing the Art PLAYce are several site-specific works of art by local artists Jennifer Jessee, Nancy Joyce, Warren and Quinton Perdue, Aaron Tucker and a special collaboration among students at UNC Asheville. Finally, we thank Chris Slusher and Steve Parker,  as well as The Dancing Bear and The Toy Box, for their contributions to the Art PLAYce. The new space allocated to expand educational programming through Art WORKS Primed, includes much-needed additional space for new studio, classroom and theatre space, as well as the area dedicated to the Art PLAYce.



Prior to the completion of the interim expansion, limited exhibition space in the Museum’s galleries only allowed for about 3% of its permanent collection to be exhibited at any given time. The significant addition of gallery space in the new East Wing now allows the Museum to present audiences with a greater and more comprehensive experience in American art beginning in the 20th century. New exhibition galleries also enable the Museum to develop more themes and present more exhibition-based educational programs, present more work from the Museum’s growing Permanent Collection, present more exhibitions featuring regional artists and showcase more traveling exhibitions curated by museums around the country.

Fire on the Mountain: Studio Glass in Western North Carolina, one of the inaugural exhibitions of the new East Wing, examines the fifty year history of the Studio Glass movement and its ties to Western North Carolina. This exhibition provides an overview of the aesthetic and technical developments during Studio Glass movement, particularly as it relates to the artists who live and work in the region. This exhibition remained on view through Sunday, July 8, 2012.



The Museum also presents Prime Time: New Media Juried Exhibition, the inaugural exhibition in the Museum’s New Media Gallery. This exhibition lays the foundation for the Museum’s expanded focus upon these rapidly changing art mediums. The New Media Gallery, including video, new media installation and creative use of computers and communication technology, is the first of its kind in WNC. The creation of the New Media Gallery allows artists from across WNC and the nation the opportunity to show their work in a museum, in many cases for the first time, to develop audiences and to gain recognition for their innovative work with media and their contributions to the modern art scene. Through artist and community feedback on the New Media Gallery, staff will continue to develop further programming for the new Museum that accommodates the needs of the community and its artists. Prime Time: New Media Juried Exhibition will remain on view through September 2012.



A key feature in the Museum’s Art works PRIMED programming is the Artworks Project Space, which showcases site-specific, original installations by significant artists. Through this exciting new program, the Museum encourages the creation of new work by artists across the country, giving preference to artists of both regional and national significance. This space was inaugurated on March 23, 2012 with a large scale installation, Cycle, by local artist Hoss Haley. This unique installation increases access to and understanding of one of the region’s most distinctive and influential sculptors. In his artist statement Haley comments,

“For decades the scrap yard has been a major source of both raw material and inspiration. As the consumer demand for cheaper products increases, the quality of the products decreases, as does the life span of the goods…Cycle became a way to exaggerate the idea of ‘tossing away’ and to demonstrate the precariousness of this act. In the end there was a satisfying moment in the process when the castoffs became commentary.”



With the completion of the interim expansion, an exhibition entitled Ennead Architects: Design Process is currently on view in the gallery adjacent to Biltmore Avenue. This special exhibition offers visitors an overarching portrait of the preliminary plans developed by Ennead Architects for the new Museum and explores the creative process of architecture.


For more information, contact Executive Director Pamela Myers at (828) 253-3227 or