Virginia Commonwealth University has taken the first concrete step toward building a second art gallery for the school.
VCU's School of the Arts is the highest-ranking public art and design program in the country and fourth overall behind Rhode Island School of Design, Yale University and the Art Institute of Chicago, according to a March ranking by U.S. News & World Report.
"Now we get that national recognition, our exhibition space does not reflect that," says Jayne Shaw, VCU's associate dean for arts development.
Last week, university officials called for design proposals for a building on the southeast corner of West Cary and Jefferson streets next to the school's recently moved Brandcenter.
The new gallery will focus on bringing in international and national shows, not building a collection, she says. The Anderson Gallery will remain, although probably refocus its efforts.
The Anderson Gallery faces several structural limitations. It's not accessible to handicapped visitors, offers only limited parking and lacks an appropriate heating and cooling system. The absence of a loading dock means some museums won't lend from their collections to the gallery.
"We don't have an elevator, so we don't show anything heavier than two people can carry up," says Richard Toscan, dean of the arts school.
Ideally the new gallery will double the exhibition space and have room for a lab to start an art conservation program.
The gallery's arrival, however, may be a mixed blessing for the other groups competing for those same donor dollars. The keystone to the gallery's success will be a large gift or two, of the sort that could earn the donor a name on the building. The size of the gifts and donors won't be clear until sometime this fall, Shaw says.
Longtime Anderson Gallery curator Amy Moorefield won't be around to see the arrival of the second space. She left last week to oversee the museum at Hollins University in Roanoke. Ashley Kistler from the Visual Arts Center of Richmond will replace her.