Lobby and cafe temporarily closed

last edited on Tue. August 15 2017

The Smart Museum’s lobby and Miriam’s Café will temporarily close for renovations this August. 

From Monday, August 21 through Monday, September 11, the Eunice Ratner Reception Gallery will be closed to the public as we remove Jessica Stockholder’s Threshold installation Rose’s Inclination, update our welcome desk and other lobby furnishing, and install a new site-specific work from Emmanuel Pratt, Radical [Re]Constructions.

Welcome Blanket (now on view) and Conversations with the Collection: Building/Environments (opening August 29) will remain open as scheduled and will be accessible to visitors during construction.

“The Smart's team has been thinking about built space for our upcoming Building/Environments exhibition and the discussions naturally turned to our own spaces and how they shape our visitors’ experiences. With this lobby project, we are exploring one of the ways we can make our public space a more flexible and welcoming space for all,” said Alison Gass, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. “Emmanuel has a history of compelling projects that mix art, architecture, and community-building. As our newest Threshold artist and 2017–2018 Interpreter in Residence, he is an ideal partner for this project.”

The reconfiguration will open up space around the lobby's bank of courtyard-facing windows—which are currently in large part blocked off by the Museum’s front desk and coffee kiosk. In early fall, existing cafe seating and other lobby furniture will be replaced in phases by custom-built furnishings designed by Pratt. 

The new furnishings complement Pratt’s Radical [Re]Constructions (opens September 12). The installation—the sixth project in the Threshold series, which commissions large-scale artworks for the Eunice Ratner Reception Gallery and Vera and A. D. Elden Sculpture Garden—will feature several elements that link the Museum’s lobby and courtyard to active sites of regenerative placemaking in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood, including a 3-dimensional installation of a house façade and sculptural furniture created from reclaimed wood. As the Smart’s Interpreter in Residence, Pratt will convene a series of interdisciplinary dinners on the subject of the built environment and issues like housing, work, health, and education. 

The Museum’s lobby was designed by the modernist architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. The cafe kiosk and welcome desk were added during a 1999 renovation. 

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