A remodeled and expanded Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising opened its doors Saturday, publicly revealing for the first time the striking exhibitions and facilities inside one of CSU’s newest crown jewels.
More than 600 people made their way through the halls and galleries of the new Avenir during a three-hour open house on Jan. 30.
The museum has undergone a two-year transformation: The existing 8,000 square feet was completely renovated, and 10,000 square feet was added. The project was made possible by a lead gift from the Avenir Foundation and significant funding from other benefactors.
The museum now contains three galleries, classroom and seminar space, a library, a conservation laboratory and expanded collection storage and management areas. It is open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 216 E. Lake St., on the east side of the University Center for the Arts.
The Jan. 30 event spotlighted three new exhibitions inside the museum as well as a fourth located in the University Center for the Arts:
Mr. Blackwell: “Artist of Subtle Witchery” — This exhibition features the timeless creations of fashion designer Richard Blackwell, known as “Mr. Blackwell.” Blackwell’s relationship to the collection dates back to the 1980s, and he visited CSU twice to give lectures and meet with students. The Avenir Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Mr. Blackwell designs, and 13 of them will be on display in The Richard Blackwell Gallery. In addition to donating his original gowns, master patterns and personal scrapbooks, Blackwell and his partner, Robert Spencer, left a substantial estate gift to the museum, which funded state-of-the-art storage and named the gallery. Blackwell passed away in 2008 and Spencer in 2014.
Layers of Meaning: Color and Design in Guatemalan Textiles — This colorful exhibition in the Avenir Museum Gallery features traditional Guatemalan textiles donated by two longtime supporters: New Mexico-based textile and folk art collector and author Martha Egan and Mary Littrell, textile collector and former head of the Department of Design and Merchandising.
Tiny Bits and Pieces — Lucile Hawks (’58), donor and longtime supporter of the historic costume and textiles collection, is also a talented quilter. This exhibition, in the Lucile E. Hawks Gallery space, features 100 exquisite miniature quilts, which are part of the Avenir Museum’s permanent collection.
The Power of Maya Women’s Artistry — A traveling exhibition of contemporary work by the textile artists of Cooperativa de Alfombras de Mujeres Maya en Guatemala (The Maya Women’s Rug Hooking Cooperative of Guatemala) is in the Avenir Gallery, located in Room 115 of the main University Center for the Arts. The traveling exhibition is funded in part by the Don and May Wilkins Charitable Trust, the Avenir Museum Education Exhibition Endowment and Cooperativa de Alfombras de Mujeres Maya en Guatemala.
In addition to the Avenir Gallery in the University Center for the Arts, the Avenir has another satellite gallery under its umbrella: the Gustafson Gallery in the Gifford Building on the main CSU campus.
Formerly the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection — the Avenir has its origins in the early 1950s as a small faculty teaching resource in the former Department of Home Economics. The renowned collection now includes some 20,000 historically and culturally significant artifacts, representing primarily 19th and 20th century EuroAmerican dress and textiles, with additional depth in India, China, Japan, Central Asia and Latin America.
The museum is part of the Department of Design and Merchandising in the College of Health and Human Sciences.