Plan Will Double the Size of Newport Beach Art Museum


Calling the Newport Harbor Art Museum’s plan to expand into the adjacent library building as sensible as “shoes with laces,” Museum Director Michael Botwinick on Tuesday demonstrated how the plan will more than double gallery space and public space.

The move, announced Monday, will allow the museum to take over the library space when the city’s new main library opens next spring on Avocado Avenue.

According to floor plans by Archimuse, a design firm based in Brooklyn, N.Y., the museum will have five galleries totaling 18,550 square feet (versus 7,840 square feet of gallery space currently). These rooms will include the current entry-area Irvine Gallery, and two galleries, one for special exhibitions and one to house parts of the permanent collection, to be carved out of the existing building. In its current space, some of which is devoted to offices, the museum has been unable to show its permanent collection and traveling exhibits at the same time.

Two small additional galleries--one for long-term exhibition of art installations, the other for prints, drawings and photos--will be built onto the western side of the building.


Meanwhile, the museum cafe will be moved to the rear of the Irvine Gallery to create a larger sculpture garden with an upper tier; the bookstore will be relocated and enlarged slightly, and storage and preparation space will be added to the east side of the building.

The library interior will be reconfigured to include a 150-seat auditorium (replacing the museum’s Lyon Room, which seats 100 at most), a multipurpose room, classroom spaces, a children’s gallery, a museum library, and a strip of staff offices on the west side.

The facades of both the museum and library will remain unchanged, except for a possible enhanced emphasis of the present museum entrance. A walkway connecting the two buildings, perhaps elevated, remains another possibility.

Botwinick said the expansion--estimated to cost between $3 and $4 million--could be finished in 15 months. However, the museum may decide on a phased project that would take more time but would allow the galleries to remain open for all but three months or so of the construction period.

The library building is being donated to the museum by the Irvine Co.; the library will move to a new site on Avocado Avenue in the spring. A community fund-raising campaign for the renovation and an endowment will begin in January, pending approval of the project by the city of Newport Beach.