Finally, after a five-year, $50-million capital campaign to renovate the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, in the spring of 2021 visitors will be able to witness this jewel of the art world anew.
While most of the building has been under construction, the rest of the museum has remained open, albeit with fewer galleries available for visitors. The museum will reopen with new exhibitions, while taking old favorites to new heights.
In addition to renovating the 12 original galleries in the main building, two entirely new galleries have been added: one for photography and the other to showcase the museum’s impressive collection of contemporary art.
Of the 100,000 people who visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art annually, most won’t be able to forget Ludington Court, which houses some of the museum’s most prized sculptures and assorted antiquities. Foremost among them is the Lansdowne Hermes, a life-size marble sculpture made in Rome in the 1st or 2nd century AD. Since 2016, when renovation began, Hermes and a handful of other sculptures were on display at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where they also were meticulously restored.
“We hope that our loyal members and visitors to Ludington Court will be enthralled by the new installation featuring the Lansdowne Hermes on an elevated pedestal at its center. Paintings ranging in date from the 15th through early 20th centuries will be hung densely to emphasize the now dramatic height of the gallery,” says Eik Kahng, Santa Barbara Museum of Art Deputy Director and Chief Curator.
In addition to having these restored antiquities back, Ludington Court itself has undergone a total transformation. The original triple-arches have been restored, and a new grand staircase overlooks the gallery.
Come spring, the museum will have more space to provide programming for some 40,000 children and adults alike through a near constant cycle of school programs, symposiums, exhibitions, and lectures. Most of the museum’s programs have moved online and will resume on-site when restrictions are lifted, in accordance with the State of California and Santa Barbara County COVID-19 protocols.
While the pandemic delayed the intended fall opening of “Through Vincent’s Eyes,” a blockbuster exhibit featuring a selection of Van Gogh’s most iconic paintings alongside an additional 100-plus works by the artists and authors that inspired him – the closure created an opportunity for something more. In early spring 2022, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art will bring the Van Gogh exhibition to the community with more and different works than originally anticipated.
And most importantly, Santa Barbara, a community known for its world-class cultural institutions, will have this vital hub of the arts back in full.