The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is about to get a new home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, moving from its current small quarters to a brand new facility taking up an entire city block.
Officials announced this week that the museum will relocate to the site of a former Safeway grocery store on Grant Avenue in the heart of the city. They hope to have demolition permits by the end of the year and anticipate design work taking up most of 2022. Construction could begin by the end of 2022, with the new museum opening in 2024.
“The organization has grown and grown and grown, and our facility has not kept up,” museum director Cody Hartley told the Santa Fe New Mexican. “This future building will sustain us for years.”
The current museum, which opened in 1997, is 7,000 square feet with 5,000 square feet of gallery space. The new building will have 54,000 square feet of space for permanent and rotating exhibits, storage space, a lecture hall, classrooms, a gift shop, and a lobby.
“Let’s create the building we need,” Hartley said Thursday in unveiling the plans. The new building is expected to cost $60 million to complete.
When the museum first opened, it had 40 O’Keeffe paintings. The collection has since grown to more than 3,000 works, including 140 O’Keeffe oil paintings and 700 drawings.
“This little museum had to prove itself so that museums could trust us with their works,” said Hartley. “Now we are a leading American museum, internationally known and highly regarded for our expertise.”
O’Keeffe is known as the Mother of American Modernism. Born in Wisconsin, she settled in Santa Fe where she lived until her death in 1986 at the age of 98.
Although trained in Chicago and New York, O’Keeffe made a trip to Taos, New Mexico, in the 1920s and fell in love with the area. The landscapes and architecture of the state became the basis for many of her works.
One of her floral paintings sold in auction in 2014 for $44.1 million, setting a record for the most money ever paid for a work of art by a woman.
Museum officials hope the additional space at the new museum will allow it to expand its focus beyond O’Keeffe to other New Mexico artists.
“It begins with re-centering on the people of New Mexico in our story,” Hartley said. “We want to tell a story that is as much about the place and people. We can tell the story of the landscape and people. I love the idea to have a place for locals to help (with) education and inform visitors of our story.”
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