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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Construction Begins on Barry Art Museum, a Showcase for Glass Art

By Jon Cawley

Old Dominion University broke ground April 18 on the Barry Art Museum. Set to open in the fall of 2018, the 24,000-square-foot facility will showcase sculptures that document the rise of the American glass art movement and will enhance Norfolk's growing international reputation as a fine arts destination.

The museum was made possible by a $35 million donation from Richard and Carolyn Barry - the largest in Old Dominion University's history. The majority of the museum's inventory comes from the Barrys' personal collection. The two-story building will be constructed with room for expansion. It will provide galleries for the permanent collection, as well as a large changing gallery for faculty and traveling exhibitions.

Architectural glass will be a defining feature of the museum's exterior. The building will also function as an educational asset not only for ODU's undergraduate and graduate arts programs, but also for other related disciplines, as well as the general education curriculum. New academic and community programs will be developed in conjunction with the museum and its collections.

The museum is intended to complement the many artistic and cultural institutions in Hampton Roads.

"The Barry Art Museum will be more than a phenomenal glass art collection. The museum will chronicle the rise of the American glass artist at the forefront of the international scene," Old Dominion President John R. Broderick told the crowd.

Nearly 100 people attended the late morning groundbreaking, including Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander and state Del. Chris Jones as well as Old Dominion students and faculty and leading figures from the region's arts community.

President Broderick heralded the many artistic and cultural contributions the Barrys have made to the University and other Hampton Roads institutions over the years.

"Their gift will elevate our efforts in the arts and inspire a new generation of artists and creative minds in our community," he said. "Through their generosity, this museum will provide a unique and valuable cultural and interdisciplinary educational resource."

The Barry Art Museum will focus on glass pieces from internationally renowned artists such as Dale Chihuly, Lino Tagliapietra, Howard Ben Tré, Dan Dailey, Ginny Ruffner, Michael Glancy, Laura Donefer, Stanislav Libensky, Jaroslava Brychtova and Harvey Littleton, the founder of the American studio glass movement.

It will also contain works by well-known American modernist painters, including Arthur B. Carles, Marsden Hartley, Milton Avery, George Luks, Preston Dickinson, Morgan Russell, John Marin, Blanche Lazzell, Rockwell Kent, Alfred Mauer and Wolf Kahn.

In addition, the museum will display a collection of antique dolls and automatons along with paintings, drawings and prints selected from the University's general collection, including works by former ODU faculty members A.B. Jackson and Charles Sibley.

"Having a museum on campus will be a wonderful educational tool and an exciting addition to Norfolk's growing glass art scene," said Betty Gowans, an ODU sculpture major who spoke at the groundbreaking. "I've spent countless hours with the Chrysler's glass collection; it's really thrilling to await this new resource filled with works by artists that helped fuel my love for glass."

At a reception after the groundbreaking, former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said that cities with major research universities tend to see outsized economic growth as a result of partnerships with the schools.

"Whether in research or economic development or the arts, Old Dominion University has been a great partner with the City of Norfolk," Fraim said. The new Barry Art Museum "adds to the cultural community that has been built in Norfolk. It's a wonderful addition."

Dana Heller, interim dean of the College of Arts and Letters, remembered what the site of the future Barry Art Museum looked like 27 years ago, when she started at Old Dominion University.

"Where we are right now, it was a trucker bar," Heller said, marveling at the growth of Old Dominion's campus. "Now you look around this campus, and it's visually beautiful. The Barry Art Museum will be a jewel, and will add to what is already an amazing arts district."

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