The art museums of Colonial Williamsburg hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday evening to commemorate their expansion and upgrade.
The project will enhance the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, according to a press release from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
A capital campaign that began two-and-a-half years ago raised the $40 million to fund the project, which is the first large-scale expansion of the art museums.
“The Art Museums’ expansion is a fundamental component of our core mission,” said Henry C. Wolf, chairman of the CWF Board of Trustees. “It is being completely funded with dedicated donor funds and not with the Foundation general endowment.”
Both art museums are located in the same building. The new additions will add 60,000 square feet, which allows for 22 percent more gallery space. New galleries will be introduced to the museums, including currency and medals, archaeology, toys, weapons, musical instruments, maps and more.
“The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg are treasured institutions in which guests experience both the world’s premier collection of American folk art and our nation’s early decorative culture,” said CWF President and CEO Mitchell B. Reiss. “The critical work that begins today…will allow us to improve the visitor experience, draw more visitors, and more appropriately display our world-class collection.”
The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum is the oldest continuously operating museum in the United States whose purpose is to collect, preserve and display American folk art.
The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum displays furniture, metals, ceramics, glass, paintings, prints, firearms, and textiles from colonial times.
The expansion will also improve access through a new entrance, provide enhanced programming and activities to for visitor engagement, enhanced climate control systems, a new lobby, orientation space and concourse that overlooks the pastoral site of the John Custis House and Garden.
Attendees of the groundbreaking included CWF trustees, Art Museum Board members, state and local officials, and major donors to the Art Museums.
Donors who contributed $1 million or more and members of the Art Museum Board donned hard hats and dug into the earth with replica 18th-century shovels to break ground on the site.