Beyond the dust-filled stairwell of the Fine Arts Building lies the newest part of the renovated Ball State University Museum of Art. The newest portion, which features some of the museum's permanent collection, opened Monday.
According to museum director Alain Joyaux, it was important to get a part of the museum reopened so it could be a part of continuing education for Ball State students and faculty.
"Being closed isn't going to do anybody any good," Joyaux said.
Although there is still plenty of work to be done, the open portion of the museum is just a preview of the ornate and hard work put into the project. Walls and woodwork were carefully selected to blend with the art's different cultures and eras.
While Joyaux said most of the decor was picked to fit the artwork, they tried to keep as much of the original building as possible. After last February's fire that doused the artwork with water and soot, some of the artwork had to be restored.
Art conservers work to remove the debris and dirt. According to Joyaux, the conservers were especially careful because the dust accumulated was fine grained.
The fire ended up halting plans of the renovation. Although there were original plans to close the museum over the summer, they planned to have it open by the beginning of the semester. The museum will close again in the summer of 2002 and is tentatively planned for a grand re-opening in September 2002.
"Once we reopen we can do more things with classes and faculty," Joyaux said.
According to Joyaux, this will increase the number of visitors to the gallery. The museum usually has 30,000 visitors a year, Joyaux said.
Although the renovations have cost over millions of dollars, Joyaux said they don't ever plan to charge admission.
Joyaux said that as soon as they start charging for culture, it will change the culture itself. He compared it to being able to play games in parks as a child for free.
The two gallery floors that will officially open next year have been in the making for almost two years. Joyaux expects the construction to be done within the year, and he said moving the art into the galleries will take some time.
Although the fire halted original plans, Joyaux's future hopes are to always have part of the museum available.
"Accidents happen," he said. "Just be patient with the process. Look forward to the grand re-opening. That really will be spectacular."
The museum can be entered through the west end doors facing Cooper Science Building, on the third floor. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.