As magnificent an achievement as the expansion is, it's a bit frustrating that none of the $72.3 million could be directed toward a movie screening facility worthy of a fine regional museum. What passes for a movie theater is actually a 272-seat lecture hall with no actual screen (movies are projected against the back wall) and terrible sight lines. It's nearly impossible to get an unobstructed view of the screen unless you're in the front row or 7 feet tall, and subtitled films are a nightmare.
Museum planner Dan Gottlieb concedes the problems, telling us that he and George Holt, NCMA's director of performing arts and films, have looked at many screening venues with an eye toward what could someday work for NCMA. "It would be a very flexible space that could incorporate new technology as well as conventional films," Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb did offer some clues to what might or might not be on the table. Seating for 500–700, for example, and a proscenium stage, are possibilities, he said, although the museum would not get involved in the IMAX business.
However, it will be a long wait: The immediate priority is improving the art storage facilities. "There are no firm plans for a theater," Gottlieb said. —David Fellerath
The old building will now provide larger and more functional areas for the museum's conservation lab, for art storage and for the design shops, but no provisions have yet been possible for re-housing the art library into a more public-friendly location. Currently located on the top floor with the administrative offices, it feels off-limits (though it is actually not), and the weight of the books is beginning to tell on the cantilevered architecture. According to Deputy Director John Coffey, an additional $3 million is needed to move the library to the ground floor (the former temporary exhibition area) and to convert the former café space into a reading room, both for the library and for supplemental exhibition materials. —Kate Dobbs Ariail
The advance exhibition schedule so far includes only one sculpture show (works by N.C. sculptor Bob Trotman, to open in November). Given the growing strength of the NCMA's sculpture holdings, I'd like to see it develop and host, perhaps bi- or triennially, a major invitational sculpture show to be held indoors and out. Extensive shows by major artists already represented in the park would be great, too. Can you imagine a whole field of towering Ursula von Rydingsvards? And while I'm dreaming, how about commissioning Andy Goldsworthy to do something for a two-person show with Patrick Dougherty? The Museum Park will not pose any challenge to New York's Storm King in my lifetime, but, hey, let's breathe down its neck. —Kate Dobbs Ariail