In an effort to set itself up for success for future generations, the board of the Ellen Noël Art Museum decided to add an addition, modernize its space and make it more flexible, and repair some infrastructure.
In order to begin construction, the museum, located at 4909 E. University Blvd., is temporarily moving to the Shepperd Leadership Institute, 4919 University Blvd.
“This means you can expect all future exhibitions, educational programs and Thursday night events to be held at the Shepperd Leadership Institute unless otherwise specified,” a press release read.
“The museum will close to the public on August 31, and will reopen and resume regular hours of operation at the Shepperd Leadership Institute on September 15, 2022,” the statement read.
The exhibits and collection will go down at the end of August. Executive Director Sheila Perry said they will be open, but it will be mainly the garden.
They will have Movies Under the Stars on August 26th in the garden, then on September 10th they will have a big community art day.
The last day the building is open is September 11. They will open with a reception at the Archives on September 15.
Because everything is so volatile right now, Perry said they don’t know how long the project will last or what the budget will be. It is funded by donations and grants.
Perry said the original budget was $12 million and there was money for inflation.
“With the original budget, we’re at about 80%, so we need to increase the remaining 20% of the original budget, and then anything above the original budget,” Perry said.
“Hopefully it’s not crazy beyond that because we had a lot of wiggle room in that budget. There are some things that are going Phase II…” she added.
The contractor is Lee Lewis of Lubbock and the architect is Parkhill in Midland.
There are plans to make the museum space more flexible. The museum is just over 21,000 square feet. There will be an entry point with the renovations.
They plan to add 13,808 square feet, bringing the museum’s new footprint to 35,689 square feet. A small second floor will be added.
Gallery space will be up to 9,700 square feet; a multipurpose gallery and theater will comprise 2,000 square feet and have a capacity of 100 seats.
Event space will include 4,700 square feet; there will be three spaces and classrooms.
Staff offices will leave the collections storage area and move to the second floor.
Perry said the University of Texas Permian Basin was “awesome,” as was the community as a whole.
“They’ve been absolutely wonderful,” she added.
As the Presidential Archives sat dormant for a few years, they asked the museum for advice.
Realizing that they could help each other, the archives will give the museum a place to set up shop and the museum “will work on their collections and we’ll figure out how to animate the collection in a way that hasn’t happened in the past. …,” Perry said.
During their visits, ISD Ector County students will be able to view portraiture and history exhibits and tour the Bush House.
“It will be more interdisciplinary this year. It’s going to be a mix of art and history, which I think is really exciting because our community will really benefit from it,” Perry said.
Paula Barnett, chair of the board of trustees of the Ellen Noël Art Museum, said that when the process of figuring out where the museum would be during construction, there were all sorts of scenarios.
But Perry started talking to the UTPB and a plan was hatched.
“It’s so wonderful to team up with the university because we’ve been in contact with them for a long time,” Barnett said.
She added that it was good that they were close to the museum building so people knew where they were. Barnett noted that the archives are already museum quality.
“It will benefit both of us because we will be able to help them with the presidential archives. They help us with office space…” Barnett said.
The museum may have small exhibits at the archives, she added.
“It’s really beyond what we thought would happen,” Barnett said.
She said she had been involved with the museum and the board for almost 15 years and that the museum had faced problems with equipment and humidity levels and had to find funds for repairs. .
When Perry came on board, Barnett said she helped the council focus and they came up with a strategic plan. Part of that was fundraising.
“…We are excited about it. One of the goals is that we, from the beginning, the Ellen Noël Art Museum not be your traditional everyday museum. The design of the museum at the moment (was) pretty new at the time it was built, so we knew we wanted to be a little bit different and we wanted to stand out,” Barnett said.
The architects shared photos from other museums around the world and came up with the design.
“It’s very different for Odessa, but on the other hand, I think it really speaks to the level of art and we want the art to not just hang on the wall. … The building should reflect the fact that it is an art museum. The architects were great…” she added.
Perry said the Ellen Noëls will slowly move their collection to the Museum of the Southwest, including Stampede, which will be on display in Midland.
The current gallery space is cut out so they can’t display anything really large, Perry said.
“A few of the exhibits we’ve had since I’ve been here, we ended up having to put half in one gallery and half in the other,” Perry added.