The Year of the Dog is a year of transformation at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. The organization is currently expanding its home at the corner of Harwood and Flora Streets in the Dallas Arts District. When the multi-million-dollar expansion is unveiled in the fall, the institution will reveal its new name: Crow Museum of Asian Art.
The current transformation is the continuation of the museum’s 2014 renovations to its lobby and lower levels.
“A few years ago, the focus of the Phase I project was to enhance the connection (both visually and physically) to the Arts District and between the museum galleries. Relocating the entry to Flora allowed pedestrians to effortlessly enter the museum, and the crafted wood staircase that was added elevated the transition between the lower gallery and the second-level galleries. This proved to be extremely beneficial to the museum experience, but it did not address the limited access out of the museum. Phase II will implement a second finely detailed staircase to transition from the second-level galleries to the new west wing lower gallery and the relocated Lotus Shop. Essentially, this project will be the culmination of the overall vision to create a complete and unique museum experience with which a strong connection to Flora as the main avenue of the Arts District,” Ruben Garza, AIA of Oglesby Greene Architects, said.
The expansion will add a fourth gallery, a reimagined gift shop, a new art studio and the Center for Contemplative Leadership.
“It truly is a completion of the museum and the completion of the vision of the Crow family,” Abraham Carrillo, the museum’s Director of Operations, said.
The expansion will change the way visitors experience the artwork, seamlessly progressing through the various galleries and exiting through the museum’s gift shop, the Lotus Shop.
“You definitely have that full circle experience where you go in one way and come out the other without backtracking,” Sara Kern, the museum’s PR and Marketing Manager, said.
Beth Reese, the museum’s Director of Education and Mindfulness, considers this expansion a cocoon phase for the staff to evaluate current programs and ponder educational opportunities.
“There’s a lot of conversations internally about who we’re going to be as human beings when we reopen in the fall. In terms of looking at the physical changes of the building, what we’re really looking at is the possibilities of helping people love and celebrate the arts and cultures of Asia,” Reese said. “What a gift we have as an organization to have this space.”
The staff is anticipating how this expansion will change programming, the museum’s impact on the community and the museum’s financial outlook.
“Adding a fourth gallery allows us to display more of our collection and also adding the gift shop and giving more space to the gift shop will help revenue generation,” Carrillo said.
The Lotus Shop will offer distinctive shopping opportunities.
“The vision is to create a shop unlike any other in Dallas where patrons are able to explore unique Asian-inspired gifts from all over the world while still having the option to take a part of the museum experience home with them. The shop will also be a destination for learning about Asian teas and the stories behind them, which is pretty unique for Dallas,” Garza said.
Currently the Lotus Shop is located on the north side of the Belo Pavilion. When the expansion is complete, that location will house the Pearl Art Studio.
“We’ll be making art, we’ll be hosting lectures. We’ll be doing things in this space that we really can’t do in a museum with the use of wet materials, dusty materials, from clay molding to ink painting.” Carrillo said.
The museum is piloting the Center of Contemplative Leadership, a program promoting increased awareness, productivity and compassion for self and others through classes and workshops that explore mindfulness.
“Part of the Center of Contemplative Leadership’s mission is to empower people to have tools and techniques where they can learn to be more focused and have more balance in their lives,” Reese said.
The Crow Collection is open during construction with two exhibitions, “Fierce Loyalty: A Samurai Complete” and “Earthly Splendor: Korean Ceramics from the Collection”, on display. A variety of educational classes temporarily moved to the 35th floor of the Trammell Crow Center.
The museum will pause briefly before publicly revealing the results of the transformation, complete with new exhibitions and its new name in full use.
“I think the Crow Museum of Asian Art is a name that reflects what’s inside which is a beautiful collection and art exhibitions from contemporary to traditional or historical that we have several times throughout the year.” Carrillo said. “And in fact, we are a museum. It deserves to be in the name.”