In my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI, we have an aging building that used to house our public museum. Since the completion of its replacement in the 1990s, the 1940 Art Deco/Art Moderne museum of my childhood has acted as an archive storage and cobweb garden.
Until last month, that is. Throughout much of May, the old museum was open to the public. While only a few of the original exhibits were still intact, the rooms were enhanced with conceptual pieces created by local art students. Most of the artwork incorporated crumbling artifacts, or mimicked them in some way. There were also events like fashion shows and behind-the-scenes tours.
In addition to being a simple excuse to let people back into a building filled with memories, the reopening was part of a progressive agenda. It seems that the 70 year-old structure is creeping into the awareness of those looking to sustain what we have, and at the same time develop new venues. Allowing the art students to demonstrate the building’s potential gave us a taste of what could be.