The Taubman Museum of Art

The Taubman Museum of Art opened in November of 2008 during my freshman year of high school. I was able to volunteer on the hectic opening day, where it seemed like the whole city came to find out what this crazy, spaceship-esque building was all about. I remember all of the controversy the building caused, from parking concerns, to the high cost, to the aesthetic impact on the downtown area. The lead architect, Randall Stout, previously worked for Frank Gehry and was trying to achieve Gehry’s famous style. The cost of this was extremely underestimated and ended up being much more expensive than planned (from $46 million to $66 million). The Museum has continued to struggle financially since then. Consultants had estimated that the museum would bring in about $745,000 annually, but in 2010 it only brought in about $110,000. I have personally witnessed the museum’s challenges. I was in the Center for Visual Arts program in Roanoke County’s Burton Center for Arts and Technology. Part of this program was an integrated Museum Studies Course. Each year, we had a different teacher due to the previous one leaving because of financial worries. The Museum had a high turnover rate of staff and it seemed like solutions could not be found. Renovations and new ideas were constantly being implemented in order to appeal to the public, but the museum is still not financially sound. Even so, it continues to bring exciting, world known exhibits into its doors to attract the public. The only problem with that is, most of the public come on Saturdays during its free admissions hours. While I can’t say I’m exactly sure why the museum chooses to have admission on the busiest day of the week free, I believe choosing another to have free admission could begin to solve their debt issue. They have also begun to exhibit regional and local artists to give Roanokers and residents of surrounding areas another reason to come visit. Despite the negativeness in this post, I really do enjoy being at the Taubman and have spent many hours there. It adds even more uniqueness to my city and its diversity. I have volunteered at the Taubman many times and regularly visit it when I’m home. I really encourage all design students to make a trip there every so often to see exhibits and spend some time at the other galleries in Roanoke.

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