Colonial Williamsburg is revamping its art museums to be more accessible, interactive and spacious.
“With this expansion, we will be building a new entry and wing on Nassau Street that will let you walk straight into the experience with no tunnels, stairs or escalators,” said Ron Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg vice president of collections, conservation and museums during a media tour on Thursday afternoon.
Hurst said a frequent complaint he has heard from visitors is their inability to find the exit.
In 2017, Colonial Williamsburg broke ground on a $41.7 million expansion that will total 65,000 square feet.
As part of the expansion, Colonial Williamsburg will replace the existing HVAC system and add a new museum store and dining area.
Despite the extensive construction work, the museum has remained open and Hurst said Colonial Williamsburg could potentially host a hard hat tour for the public during the summer.
So far, Hurst said the current exhibits haven’t been harmed by exterior construction. Interior renovations will begin in earnest during the summer and some sections of the museum could be walled off.
“Most of it will stay open but you will see partition walls pop up,” Hurst said.
Construction will be finished in late 2019 and the expansion will open in early 2020, according to the release.
As part of the revamp, the foundation is unveiling some added programming.
Two new exhibits coming to the museum in the coming months include “Upholstery CSI: Reading the Evidence” and “Tradition and Trade: Navajo Weavings.”
“Upholstery CSI: Reading the Evidence” debuts on May 26 and will give visitors the chance to look for clues, touch examples of upholstery materials and learn about various upholstery techniques.
The exhibit is inspired by Leroy Graves, a senior conservator, whose non-intrusive conservation techniques have been replicated worldwide, according to a release from Colonial Williamsburg.
“Tradition and Trade: Navajo Weavings” will start on July 14 and showcase 26 examples of Navajo weavings including colorful blankets and rugs.