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A perfect 10 Crocker expansion ready to open Oct. 10

By October 5, 2010

Arts and entertainment columnist

In what may well be the largest happening in the Sacramento region this year, the Crocker Art Museum will re-open its doors to the public on Oct. 10. Sacramento is going to party like itÕs É well, 10-10-10.

At the center of the event, which begins at 10 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m., is the 125,000 square foot expansion of the second oldest art museum in the United States, complete with new exhibits and enhanced features to take the Crocker into its next 125 years. The museum was closed over the summer to make the connection of the new structure to the old complete.

Admission to the museum will be free for the day, with activities, performances and entertainment for children, families and adults.

ÒThis will be a great community celebration,Ó said Lial Jones, the CrockerÕs executive director. ÒIt will unveil the new Crocker Art Museum.Ó

The expansion of the museum is the work of the late Charles Gwathmey, co-founder of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects (GSAA). Throughout the museum, there are views to the outside, providing the visitor with a sense of orientation throughout the museumÕs galleries.

The expansion experience begins at the new entrance, which includes the Teel Family Pavilion, a new museum store, a gourmet cafŽ, a 260-seat theater, conference meeting rooms and an art conservation workshop that can be viewed through windows in the pavilion. This part of the museum will be free to enter at any time. The museum itself can be entered on the second floor.

The pavilion features a large glass wall that ÒframesÓ the original Crocker Art Museum building as a work of art itself. The contemporary structure of the expansion seems to Òmelt awayÓ in its honest homage to the Victorian Italianate architecture of the original. The pavilion can seat up to 1,200 people, and is SacramentoÕs newest rental venue for conferences, wedding receptions and other events.

The new cafŽ will be run by none other than Patrick Mulvaney of MulvaneyÕs restaurant in Sacramento. Diners simply fill a wicker picnic basket with the gourmet sandwich of choice, plus gourmet chips, sodas and more. A soup of the day will be available, as well as a Òkid friendlyÓ lunch basket that includes fresh fruit and milk.

The art spaces in the museum are just that Ñ spacious. Those who are familiar with the Victorian gallery style of art hanging used in the old Crocker know that it could be overwhelming … even cluttered. No more. The painted walls of the new Crocker are large and well proportioned. In fact, there is height and space enough to exhibit some items that have not been on exhibit for 80 years or more, simply because of their size.

The Crocker is inaugurating the new galleries with a series of special exhibitions, including a new retrospective of the work of Sacramento resident Wayne Thiebaud. ÒHomecomingÓ features 50 paintings and drawings spanning ThiebaudÕs career. Also featured is ÒRiver Intersection,Ó a new painting created by the artist as a gift to commemorate the opening of the expansion.

The opening exhibition also includes ÒA Pioneering Collection: Master Drawings from the Crocker Art Museum,Ó featuring one of the finest early collections of master drawings in the United States.

While the Crocker does not house a comprehensive collection of art (such as the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York), it does have some very interesting collections that are well worth checking out Ð and with this expansion, gifts of private art collections are pouring in. The exhibit of California Impressionist artists is most impressive.

The expansion of the Crocker Art Museum means that touring art exhibits will now be able to come to our region Ñ much to the dismay of Bay Area museums. The Sacramento area has played Òsecond fiddleÓ to San Francisco since 1910. After 100 years itÕs about time Sac comes back into her own. The new Crocker is a great start.

The Crocker Art Museum is located at 216 O St. in downtown Sacramento. The grand re-opening event is Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Remember to bring quarters to feed the meter machines in the parking spaces around the museum (25 cents for every 12 minutes, up to three hours on the meter). Regular museum hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Sunday. Every Third Sunday of the month is ÒPay What You Wish Sunday.Ó For more information, call (916) 808-7000 or visit

Send your event for consideration in SusanÕs column to [email protected]

Susan Laird

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