Walters to shut most galleries temporarily

Closing: The only ones remaining open during renovation are those housing Asian art exhibits.

March 15, 2001|By Holly Selby

The Walters Art Museum, in the midst of years-long renovation project, will close all of its galleries except those housing Asian art for five months beginning May 1.

Until the galleries re-open on Oct. 20, anyone wishing to view Asian treasures, from a seventh-century lacquer-and-wood Buddha to a 20th-century vessel decorated with plum blossoms, will be admitted without charge to the Hackerman House gallery in the 600 block of N. Charles St. during regular museum hours Tuesdays through Sundays.

As of May 1, 75 percent of the museum's holdings will be in storage. While significant, the shutdown is not unexpected. The Walters' Centre Street building, which houses the museum's ancient, medieval and 19th-century paintings and sculpture collections, has been closed since summer 1998.

What's scheduled to close May 1 is the museum's Charles Street building, which houses its Renaissance and Baroque holdings and has as its central feature the Renaissance sculpture court.

The closures are part of a four-year, $24 million renovation. Design plans include creation of a four-story glass atrium, a larger museum shop and cafe, a new family arts center, and renovations and expansions to three floors of gallery space. October's gala museum reopening will include a two-day family-oriented street festival dubbed "ArtBeat on Centre Street."

In the meantime, the museum will present three small temporary exhibits in its Asian art galleries, including "Cherry Blossom Time, prints by Ogata Gekko." Gekko's works, which celebrate spring's fleeting beauty, will be on display from April 4 to July 1. For more information, call 410-547-9000.

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