The Toledo Museum of Art will expand gallery space by 6,000 square feet with a $2 million gift from Frederic "Fritz" and Mary Wolfe of Perrysburg, longtime benefactors of northwest Ohio's arts and education.
"We wanted to help renovate this space," Mrs. Wolfe, an art historian, said. "It's a huge space."
An East Wing-area that's been empty for seven years will be rebuilt with a mezzanine.
Glass had been displayed in this large room behind the Classic Court from 1969 to 2003, when the objects were packed away for conservation in preparation for the 2006 opening of the Glass Pavilion.
Upon completion, the Frederic and Mary Wolfe Gallery will feature contemporary and modern art, which has been squeezed in a series of smallish rooms adjacent to what will be their new home.
"It's an opportunity for the museum to present its contemporary collection to the world," said Rod Bigelow, the museum's interim director.
Known for its European and glass collections, the museum purchased additional 20th and 21st-century objects under the tenure of Don Bacigalupi, its most recent director.
The prospect of additional space will have a domino effect.
"The visitor experience will be considered holistically," Mr. Bigelow said.
There will be extra room for African items, which are now wedged between modern art galleries. Asian works, sited in two West Wing galleries, also will move into more spacious quarters, and objects will be grouped by region or country of origin.
"This triggers a process of re-evaluation," Mr. Bigelow added, noting that the first phase of construction will begin in six to eight months.
Plans are not fixed for what will move where or when, he said. A new director along with curators and facilities' staff will have a say in the process.
Mrs. Wolfe is on the search committee for a museum director. Candidates have been interviewed and the position is likely to be filled in the summer, Mr. Bigelow said.
The new gallery will be flexible enough to display pieces of all sizes and shapes. Its main level will have 4,800 square feet and a partially elevated mezzanine with an elevator and will create 1,200 square feet.
More donations are needed to complete the project.
"The $2 million allows us to build out the contemporary area," Mr. Bigelow said.
Demolition in the former glass gallery began in 2008, but the economic downturn of that autumn hampered fund-raising.
The museum's Classic Court, home to Greco-Roman and Egyptian antiquities, will not change, but may be closed during some construction.
Mr. Wolfe served on the museum's board of trustees for 27 years. The Wolfes are charter members of the museum's Apollo Society, started in 1986. Members donate at least $5,000 a year to buy art recommended by curators.
For 15 years, Mrs. Wolfe, a Bowling Green State University graduate who taught art history there, represented northwest Ohio as a volunteer member of the Ohio Arts Council board. She was co-chairman of the museum's 100th anniversary celebration in 2001.
Construction is under way for the 93,000-square-foot Wolfe Center for the Arts at BGSU. The $40 million building, for which they gave $1.5 million, will house theater, film, music, and digital art programs, and include classrooms, studios, offices, and three theaters
At the University of Toledo, the Wolfes donated $1.5 million toward Wolfe Hall, a pharmacy, chemistry, and life sciences facility opened in 1998. They've gifted the Toledo Symphony with $1 million, and given to a variety of other groups, which included the Valentine Theatre, Toledo Opera, and Maumee Valley Country Day School.
In 1970, Mr. Wolfe founded Health Care Fund with the late Bruce Thompson. It's now known as Health Care REIT Inc. and is headquartered downtown.
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