Scottsdale’s Museum of the West prepares to open

Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane and council members got their first look at the new Museum of the West this month and heard how its mission stretches beyond art and even Scottsdale.

Sidestepping scaffolding and yellow tape, the group took a hard-hat tour of the under-construction building at First Street and Marshall Way on Nov. 12. Amid the clang of construction, museum President Mike Fox shared the features of the landscaping, building, and the works and artists it would exhibit.

The galleries will house the work of well-known artists such as Charles M. Russell, Georgia O’Keeffe, Fritz Scholder and Allen Houser, in addition to showcasing artifacts such as John Wayne’s signed business card, Navajo chiefs’ blankets and objects associated with the legendary man of the West, Kit Carson.

“The whole idea is that this is not only a museum of fine art but a study of the West,” Fox said. “We are not a museum of objects, but a museum of ideas.”

The $11.4 million Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, will open to the public Jan. 15. The museum building is owned by the city of Scottsdale and run by the non-profit Scottsdale Museum of the West board.

In January, the Scottsdale City Council agreed to award a contract to Core/LGE to construct the museum, at a maximum price of $11.4 million. In addition, a management agreement includes the city’s commitment to provide matching payments of up to $400,000 a year for five years. City officials said the money is the city’s match toward donations that the museum’s operators are able to raise. Revenue from Scottsdale’s hotel-bed tax, which goes toward tourism-related projects or programs, will pay off debt to construct the museum and the matching funds, city officials have said.

Only two months ago, the museum was a shell of steel beams. The copper exterior council members saw had not yet oxidized and was still a shiny silver color. The concrete walls were textured to reflect the spindly lines of Saguaro cactus.

Other features council members saw or were asked to envision on the exterior tour of the “green,” or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building:

Three bioswales or landscaping designed to capture street, roof and surface runoff water.

An outdoor amphitheater that can accommodate hundreds of people and serve as a place for events.

A plaza with a native plant cactus garden, prime for photo opportunities.

An open-air courtyard, which architect Christiana Moss of Studio MA called the “heart” of the museum, that the gallery spaces downstairs and upstairs rotate around, letting in light. The courtyard will feature a sculpture garden with seven works that will change.

Numerous highlights

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust Fine Arts Gallery will feature art showcasing the people and places of the West by artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Scholder and Russell.

The Scottsdale Charros Gateway Foyer will lead to a large map of 19 western states that the museum embodies with interactive components. The Charros made the single-largest donation of $250,000 and agreed to work in security and as security planners.

The 135-seat Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Theater/Auditorium will offer telescopic fabric seating with arm rests that can be stored in a wall when not in use. “The whole building has been designed with flexibility in mind,” Fox said.

The Great Hall on the second floor will feature the story of Captains Merriwether Lewis and William Clark with paintings and sculptures.

The A.P. Hays Spirit of the West Collection on the second floor will showcase saddles, spurs and other Western items including a signed Wayne business card and a selection of Texas Rangers badges from the 1890s.

Featured artists

Cowboy artist John Coleman, an Arizona sculptor known for his bronze works, will have his entire collection on display in a downstairs gallery.

Old West painter Maynard Dixon’s dramatic 1935 mural “Kit Carson with Mountain Men” a 9- by 16-foot work, will be on display in the main entry foyer.

Montana artist Charles Fritz, will have his 100 paintings that chronicle the 19th century expedition of Lewis and Clark on display.

Artists O’Keeffe, Russell, W. Herbert Dunton, Scholder, William R. Leigh, Ed Mell, Allan Houser, Kate T. Cory, and Marjorie Thomas will have worked displayed in the Nina Mason Pullium Charitable Trust Fine Arts Gallery.

At the tour’s conclusion, Fox said the museum will be “a point of pride for this community” that will attract interest beyond Scottsdale.

Mayor Jim Lane called the tour and museum vision “inspiring.”

“But truly, and I think I speak for the council members who are here, that we thank you for all you’ve done and for working with the city as you have,” he said. “We know there have been some ups and downs but sometimes those variations bring out the very best.”

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2014/11/17/scottsdales-museum-west-prepares-open/19177215/