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Enjoy a Fresh Look at These Museums

Mary R. Koch Arts Center

Wichita, Kansas

The Mary R. Koch Arts Center, also known as Mark Arts, opened its new $19 million building in Wichita, Kansas, to the public in January, but the organization has been around for nearly 100 years.

Originally founded as the Wichita Art Association in 1920 Mark Arts is officially an art center rather than an art museum, and “education is the focus of what we do,” said Laura Roddy, Mark Arts development and marketing director.

“We want to have a lot of opportunities for people to appreciate and create art.”

The new building has nine art studios where visitors, including groups, can take all sorts of classes. Of those, one is dedicated for children’s use, one is a digital arts studio and another is a culinary arts studio. The center can arrange painting, clay-sculpting or jewelry-making classes for groups. In the culinary studio, a group can do a wine-pairing class, or an island can be wheeled out from the demonstration kitchen into the education commons for events for up to 80 people, using cameras and screens so the group can follow along.

The 5,000-square-foot Wiedemann Gallery “is the jewel of the building,” Roddy said, where the juried Abstract National Exhibition will be on display April 13 to July 7. The gallery will have about four shows per year, and other spaces throughout the center, such as the School of Creativity commons area, will also host exhibits and rotate displays. The center collects and displays artwork and has an impressive collection, but it’s meant to be a study collection, Roddy said.

Groups can opt to have boxed lunches or buffets in the Great Hall event venue or on one of two outdoor terraces that have access to the sculpture garden.

Tacoma Art Museum

Tacoma, Washington

The Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) in Tacoma, Washington, is growing again with the addition of the Benaroya Wing. Construction on the 6,860-square-foot wing is slated to be complete later this year and will open to the public in January 2019.

“It’s a major addition for our public and for our visitors,” said Rock Hushka, deputy director and chief curator. “The key part is it helps the Tacoma Art Museum more fully tell the story of Northwest art in the late 20th century and early 21st century.”

About 4,550 square feet of the expansion will be gallery space, increasing the museum’s current gallery space by a quarter. Galleries will house the collection that Becky Benaroya and her late husband, Jack, assembled during their 70-year marriage and bequeathed to the museum, along with funds to build the new wing. The collection includes 225 works of Northwestern and international studio art glass as well as important paintings and sculptures by regional artists.

The Benaroyas were influential patrons of the renowned Pilchuck Glass School north of Seattle, and “what the Benaroya collection brings to us is these iconic pieces by masters in the studio art glass movement,” Hushka said.

TAM’s permanent collection is already nearly 25 percent glass art and includes the Dale Chihuly retrospective collection; the Anne Gould Hauberg collection, 151 pieces donated by Hauberg, one of the founders of Pilchuck; and the Paul Marioni glass collection, which includes nearly 400 artworks.

The five Haub Family Galleries focus on Western American art and the people of the West, including the Pacific Northwest. Groups can arrange docent-led tours and boxed lunches, and TAM is revamping its programming to provide more experiences for visitors.