Despite recent setbacks, N.C. State’s Gregg Museum of Art and Design has raised almost enough money to start its long-in-the-works expansion project.
That was in doubt in August, after the Wake County Board of Commissioners rebuffed its application for a $1 million grant from the county’s hotel tax fund to go toward construction. That left the $9 million-plus project still $1.4 million short, with not much more than six months until groundbreaking.
But things have picked up this fall, with the help of some large donations from N.C. State alumni and friends.
“We were lucky enough to get a $500,000 gift, which one of the board of trustees members matched,” said Christina Menges, development director for Arts NC State. “So that was $1 million, which was terrific. And since then, we’ve had a couple of other major gifts trickle in, $25,000 each. We’re down to $200,000 left to raise out of $9.4 million, which we’d like to finish up before the end of the calendar year.”
As designed by architect (and 1975 N.C. State graduate) Phil Freelon, the project will add more than 15,000 square feet of gallery space in a new building next to the Historic Chancellor’s Residence near the university’s Bell Tower. Classrooms, a sculpture garden and 60 parking spaces are also part of the plan.
The residence, which will serve as office space and auxiliary gallery, is being renamed in honor of one of the Gregg donors – board of trustee member Tom Cabaniss, who matched a $500,000 donation given by J. Norwood and Valeria Adams.
March 20 is the tentative start date for construction, depending on weather as well as how the rest of the fundraising goes. If all proceeds on schedule, the expanded museum should open in fall 2016.
By then, the Gregg will have done without a space of its own for more than three years, since vacating its former home in N.C. State’s Talley Student Center last year. For now, it’s still a “museum without walls” putting on exhibits in other spaces, including a puppetry exhibit opening at the university’s D.H. Hill Library in the spring.
“We’re already working on shows to do in the new space, though none I want to talk about yet,” said Gregg director Roger Manley. “It’s difficult, doing shows in other spaces where you don’t have control over hours and things like that. If we’re doing a show at the library, we can’t just back up the truck and take over. There’s a lot more we’ll be able to do when we control the whole thing.”
Particularly well-heeled donors, take note: Naming rights for the Gregg’s new gallery are still available for a cool $2 million.