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Norton Museum of Art to shut down in July, reopen February 2019

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach will shut down on July 16 for nearly seven months as it completes its $100 million facelift and expansion, museum staff said Friday.

Museum admission will remain free through July 15.

When the museum reopens Feb. 9, 2019, it will do so with five new exhibitions highlighting New York painter Nina Chanel Abney, collector Ralph Norton and camera-less photography. Palm Beach residents Howard and Judie Ganek also promised a gift of 100-plus modern and contemporary art works by Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith and others.

When finished, the “New Norton” project will be a sweeping transformation for the museum and its 6.3-acre campus. It will add about 37 percent more gallery space, along with a West Wing, an 11-piece sculpture garden and other upgrades. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Lord Norman Foster designed the overhaul, which broke ground in February 2016.

Along with re-orienting the Norton’s entrance from South Olive Avenue to North Dixie Highway, the project will boast a reflecting pool sheltered under a 43-foot canopy; a 3,600-square-foot great hall with coffee bar and lounge; a 210-seat auditorium, a 9,000-square-foot event lawn; and education classrooms.

The museum has stayed open during renovation, squeezing into reduced gallery spaces and scrapping its admission fees in the hope that museum goers will pardon the construction. In the meantime, much of the Norton’s permanent collection has been moved to storage.

The museum expects to finish construction work this October, growing from 120,300 square feet to 133,000 square feet, according to a Norton fact sheet.

Here’s a breakdown of the five exhibits opening on Feb. 9, 2019.

RAW: Nina Chanel Abney (Feb. 9-June 25, 2019): The New York-based painter, now 35, has been on a tear for the past decade with her politically minded paintings, a graffiti-style tangle of works that tackle racial prejudice, violence, misogyny and environmental issues.

Out of the Box: Camera-less Photography (Feb. 9-June 16, 2019): Not all photographers use cameras to capture pictures, and this exhibit proves it by revisiting British inventor William Henry Fox Talbot’s 19th century “photogenic drawings” and Man Ray’s surrealistic “rayograms.”

Going Public: Florida Collectors Celebrate the Norton (Feb. 9-June 4, 2019): Plucked from private South Florida art collections, these 50-plus on-loan works will showcase Nick Cave, Mary Cassatt, Roy Lichtenstein and Anselm Kiefer.

Modern Spontaneity: Ralph Norton’s Watercolors (Feb. 9-May 7, 2019): The Norton Museum’s namesake founder was fond of watercolors, and this collection includes 17 of them from 19th century masters Winslow Homer, Charles Burchfield and others.

Good Fortune to All: A Chinese Lantern Festival in 16th Century Nanjing (Feb. 9, 2019-Jan. 28, 2020): These rare, half-dozen paintings capture a 500-year-old scene: soldiers, children, immortal figures and acrobats in reverie during a Chinese Lantern Festival in Nanjing in the late 16th century.

For more information on the upgrades, call 561-832-5196 or go to Norton.org/New.

pvalys@southflorida.com or 954-356-4364

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