Art lovers and curious spectators alike gathered for the long awaited reopening of the Norton Museum of Art on Feb. 9 after several months of restoration.
“I like how sophisticated and cleaned up it looks,” local college student Odessa Waters said. “Before, it was just the artwork in a room. Now, it’s more than that.”
Current director and CEO of the Norton Art Museum Hope Alswang first had a vision for the transformation in 2010. She said she wanted to expand the Norton in a way that would redefine the city and serve the area for future generations.
“When the director came, she looked around and decided they could reconfigure the entire building, and so they did,” a senior docent who chose not to give her name said. “It’s really quite remarkable.”
The Museum added 12,000 square feet of new galleries, as well as an outdoor sculpture collection, according to the Norton website.
“It’s less stuffy. I feel like a lot of young people would rather come here than the old Norton,” Lake Worth resident Hannah Pittman, a regular at the Norton, said. “It’s way more accommodating, and the art that they chose is more current and what people want to see.”
A featured part of the transformation is the Great Hall, which serves as a community space for people to gather and converse.
“I think art stimulates those [important] conversations that we sometimes avoid,” Faith Schullstrol, a docent for the Norton, said. “It’s always good to get more people in the conversation so you can test your own beliefs, as well as learn how to see eye to eye.”
The Museum is to be a cultural landmark, as well as a symbol for West Palm Beach.
Along with the renovation, the Norton has extended its Friday night hours to 10 p.m.
“That’ll bring in people who have to work during the day too, instead of just retirees,” John Connolly, a local resident, said. “It’ll add a little more zest and a little more life to the Art After Dark program.”
Art After Dark gives visitors the opportunity to view an exhibition, participate in an art activity and dine in the museum’s new bar and restaurant, according to the Norton website.
The Norton Museum of Art will carry on its interactive programs such as Art After Dark by continuing to provide more ways for the community to come together to appreciate art in new ways.
“You can see that they put a lot of time and effort into it, and it’s really an excellent exhibit,” Connolly said. “It’s world class.”
By Morgan Therrien and Sofia Jas