Typically, museums are pretty quiet. But right now, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft is filled with the buzz of power tools. Instead of paintings and sculptures, the gallery space is stacked with saws, hammers and piles of wooden planks.
Following an extensive 9-month, $3 million renovation, KMAC is nearing its grand re-opening on July 1. Executive Director Aldy Milliken says this new design will help KMAC grow as Museum Row continues to develop, and further the institution’s commitment to providing diverse arts programming to the community.
Milliken says the renovation has been on his radar since he first visited KMAC over five years ago, and that it is a key component in the museum’s transition from “a retail to an educational institution.”
“While [KMAC] was very successful initially, I think it had a hard time keeping up with the changes in museum developments and the economy,” Milliken says. “In the first ten seconds, I knew KMAC needed to change the design; the design of the building would inform all the activities, from our educational programs to our exhibitions.”
KMAC Communications Manager Emily Miles outlined some of the changes that are taking place in the museum, starting with the first floor.
“If you remember, this first floor used to be divided by a big wall,” Miles says. “Now the first floor is one large open space.”
This openness is a theme that’s carried throughout the entire museum, including the fourth floor office space. Even though it’s not an area that’s open to the public, Milliken says it was an important update.
“The open office landscape allows us better communication, it allows us to work collaboratively, it allows the curatorial department to work with the education department, and then we all work with the development,” he says.
Milliken says increased collaboration is important as the institution redefines their fundraising initiatives.
“We would rather prove that we are a worthy institution to invest in,” he says. “That means that we have to connect people to art. That means our development people will learn from the curators about the art, so they can have conversations with the public about the art.”
The reopening of the museum also marks another change for how KMAC will reach the public. The museum recently announced that they will provide free admission for one year to all guests, thanks to a donation from Delta Dental of Kentucky through its Making Smiles Happen Charitable Initiative.
“The free admission was important for us because we did not want to have any barriers for our visiting public,” Milliken says. “We wanted to make sure that all ages, genders, races, all people from Louisville or outside Louisville — throughout the country — could use KMAC as a resource for both our exhibitions and our education programs.”