Ringling Museum to Begin Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Asian Art Galleries
SARASOTA, Fla. - Feb. 22, 2008 – Florida State University and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art received $6.1 million of a pledged gift from Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt and today announce its plans to begin the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Asian Art Galleries as well as its search for an Asian Art Curator.
Dr. Wall-Apelt pledged to the Museum an $8 million contribution with half for design and construction and the other for endowment to fund exhibitions and programs. Funds are eligible for a one-to-one state match.
In addition, Wall-Apelt has promised her extensive collection of Asian art that includes a large and exquisite collection of Chinese jades, bronze Southeast Asian sculptures of the 18th and 19th centuries and Cambodian stone figures dating to the 12th and 13th centuries. As of Dec. 31, 2007, $6.1 million was fully received from the philanthropist and art collector making available funds to commence the project.
“We are now prepared to focus our attention on beginning this ambitious and monumental project,” said Ringling Museum Executive Director Dr. John Wetenhall.
“It is a tremendous initiative and up until now it was still considered conceptual. The dream can now become a reality and the future of the Ringling Museum will forever be changed as being recognized for its exquisite quality European works as well as for its Asian art.”
In addition to building funds, the gift establishes The Dr. Wall-Apelt Endowment for Asian Art. The endowment will support curatorial staff, lectures, seminars, scholarly research, visits by guest scholars, internships, publications, exhibitions, acquisitions, public programs and other activities related to Asian art and culture.
An international search for an Asian Art Curator is underway. Once hired, the curator will immediately complete an assessment of the Asian art collections and contribute to a strategic plan for the initiative, which will include developing special exhibitions to be featured until the opening of the new Galleries, as well as plan the exhibition space in the Galleries. The curator will also develop and lead a support group for Asian art to engage community support for the Museum’s growing collections, exhibitions, and programs.
Wall-Apelt’s gift enables the Museum to establish the Galleries for the display and study of Asian Art. A comprehensive renovation of the Museum’s existing 10,000-square-foot West Galleries (constructed in 1966) will form the core of the new space. Preliminary plans also include an entry pavilion added to the westernmost end of the wing and the Galleries will feature elegantly refurbished spaces for the display of the Ira and Nancy Koger Collection of Chinese Ceramics (received in 2002) and Dr. Wall-Apelt’s extensive holdings in addition to some of the Asian works already part of the Museum’s permanent holdings.
An additional 37,000 square feet will be opened as a study center for works on paper, meeting areas, art support space, and a classroom for children on the basement level. Across the pond from the new entry pavilion (as yet to be designed), plans call for the creation of an Asian tea garden.
The Asian Art initiative, as it has been coined, is a significant part of the Museum’s new Board of Director’s adopted five year goals through 2012. Building preparations include choosing an architect, programmatic planning and design concepts. The target date to open the building to the public is 2011.