The National Music Museum (NMM) will close its doors to the public on Oct. 7, in order to prepare for upcoming expansions. The construction will officially begin in June 2019 and is planned to be completed in Dec. 2020.
The expansion will include additional gallery space, a permanent temporary exhibit gallery, a new concert hall, additional office spaces and classrooms. The construction will also include modernization of current exhibits and create an ADA accessible front entrance.
“Busting our seams”
Patricia Bornhofen, the museum’s manager of communications, said the expansion will allow the NMM to feature more of their collection, something they have needed for a long time.
“We were busting our seams; we’ve been busting our seams for a very long time,” Bornhofen said. “This will allow us to show more of our 15,000 musical instruments, plus some of the other thousand things that we have, everything from sheet music, to accessories to music, to marketing materials, to songbooks, to our phenomenal photographic archive.”
The NMM building was originally a Carnegie library building that was used as the university’s library. In 1973, when the library moved to the current I.D. Weeks building, the instrument collection of Arnie Larson, a USD professor who collected “sounds,” was able to be housed in the space. Since then, the building has had many expansions, including the upcoming additions.
Bornhofen said because the original intent of the building was not meant to be a museum, the building needs alterations to make it a functioning storage place for priceless instruments.
“Because it wasn’t built to be a museum, it doesn’t always have the ideal spaces,” Bornhofen said. “We need more administrative room, we just need more room in general, and modernizing the infrastructure of the museum more.”
Larry Schou, dean of the college of fine arts, said in an email interview with The Volante that the current facility does not reflect the quality of the collection of instruments inside. He said the new facility will attract more visitors.
“The current facility is not meeting the needs of visitors to be in a welcoming atmosphere,” Schou said. “This new facility footprint will be a world-class facility to match the world-class collection.”
Bornhofen said she hopes the expansion will attract more student and local visitors.
“We’re really well-known internationally in the musical instrument world… and sometimes you can ask somebody local and they don’t know about the museum,” she said. “You’d think as people watch it grow and see this building go up, that they would be more likely to come. It’s a lovely, beautiful, traditional museum now, but it will be much more 21st century and interactive.”
Bornhofen said the funding for the architectural aspect of the expansion has reached $9.5 million.
“The board of trustees raised a mass majority of the money, which is so far $9.5 million. That’s private donations, some of which are individual donors,” she said. “Then the university is covering about $1.5 million in terms of facilities upgrades, so HVAC, new heating, air conditioning and environmental control.”
The museum is now entering another phase of fundraising to focus on the internal design of the exhibits and aesthetics of the building, Bornhofen said.
Bornhofen said the museum will still be active before the construction begins in 2019, although its doors will be closed to the public.
“So a lot of people will be wondering why they’re not seeing any building going on at that time and why aren’t we open,” Bornhofen said. “The reality is, is that we’re not actually going to be constructing the new building addition until the beginning of next summer, but we have a huge amount of moving things around, of re-cataloging and packaging, crating and massive amounts of stuff to take care of.”
During the construction, the instruments will be housed in a specialized storage facility and preservation center, be borrowed to other museums around the country, or be displayed in pop-up exhibits throughout Vermillion.
Schou said the re-location of the instruments is a way to encourage visitors to visit the museum once it reopens.
“This is an exciting time to have more NMM instruments going out to locations to attract attention and eventually bring more people to campus after 2020,” he said.
Bornhofen said the museum will also continue to interact with potential visitors throughout the closing by increasing social media outreach and continuing the host NMM live shows and concerts, which will now take place in Farber Hall.
“Even though our doors are closed to the public, we’ll still be very very active…we’ll also ramp up or social media so you can engage with the collection and find out what we’re doing even more than before… so as we’re packing all this stuff up and we’re looking at it, we might take a photo of it and show you it,” she said. “We’re also going to be putting stuff up on Youtube, video clips and audio clips, so there will be a way to interact with us in that regard, so we’re certainly not closed, except to the public. We’re very much alive, we’re just very busy on the inside, getting stuff done.”
Kacie Cox, a sophomore music education and clarinet performance major, worked at the NMM last semester. She said she will be sad to see the museum closed to the public, although she said the expansions are necessary.
“I think it’s really disappointing that they’re closing just as I (got) to USD,” Cox said. “I think it is disappointing for all students because there are some students I know that are really excited to go to the museum, but it’s going to be closed for around 3 years.”
Bornhofen said students of all majors should make sure to visit the museum before it closes.
“Even if you’re not interested in musical instruments, if you’re interested in history at all, if you’re interested in art, science and technology, or pop culture, there’s something for you in here,” Bornhofen said. “People should really try to come in before Oct. 6. They can come in for ten minutes and just run in and look at one gallery… That’s the great thing about being a student here- it’s free.”
Video by Travis Cownie courtesy of Coyote News.