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Gallery Back to Original Size

With the installation of “The Imagination of Clive Barker,” which opens Monday, the Laguna Art Museum has expanded its satellite gallery in the South Coast Plaza mall to its original 1,200-square-foot configuration.

The space was reduced by half last fall to enlarge the adjacent gift shop in hopes of boosting museum income.

Museum director Naomi Vine said this week that because she joined the museum in March after the shop expansion, she would not comment on whether the bigger shop had in fact generated more revenue.

But she did say attendance at the gallery has been down--from 11,792 last May to 7,748 this May, the most recent figures available--and that the museum wants to expand its presence in the mall.

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One way to do that, she said, may be through family-oriented shows. She noted that families often use the mall entrance closest to the satellite, which is near a carousel. “Every museum in the country wants to attract family audiences,” she said, “especially [ethnically] diverse family audiences, and we have an opportunity to do that.”

However, she added, no policy for the gallery’s future use has been set. Historically the space has been used for one-person exhibits of work by contemporary artists.

In 1993, according to a museum source, the Laguna museum received a letter complaining about a painting in the gallery that depicted a penis. Vine said she had not heard about any such letter and that the museum has received no such letters since she arrived. She rejected the idea that public sentiment against so-called offensive artwork is the impetus for family-oriented programming at the satellite, and noted that the first show at the expanded gallery, of Barker’s art, hardly is watered down.


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