Stuart Horodner on a new UK Art Museum

Stuart Horodner, now in his second year as director of the University of Kentucky Art Museum, has made numerous changes, including dropping the admission fee to the museum. The University of Kentucky Art Museum has redone its second floor galleries to display more of the museum's permanent collection over time. Herald-Leader photo by Rich Copley| rcopley@herald-leader.com.

Stuart Horodner, now in his second year as director of the University of Kentucky Art Museum, has made numerous changes, including dropping the admission fee to the museum. The University of Kentucky Art Museum has redone its second floor galleries to display more of the museum’s permanent collection over time. Herald-Leader photo by Rich Copley| rcopley@herald-leader.com.

For the past several years, there has been a steady drumbeat that the University of Kentucky Art Museum needs a new building to replace its corner office in the Singletary Center for the Arts.

But that rhythm has ceased since the arrival of Stuart Horodner as the museum’s new director, last summer. He has changed a lot of things, but getting the museum a new home is not one of them, at least for now. When I talked to Horodner on Monday for Friday’s Weekender cover story, he did bring up the new building topic, unprompted, riffing on what he has said before on the subject:

“When I first got here, my goal was to stop talking about needing a new building. I would love a new building. I’ve got all kinds of ideas of what we could do with a new building. But we don’t need a new building until we make this current location so boisterous with energy and constant attendance and constant newness the people say, ‘Oh my god, there’s always something going on over there, always people there, always some programatic vitality.

“If we don’t do that, all the other conversations about buildings are  sort of silly, because you don’t need to think about raising $20 million or whatever it would take to build a new building if you don’t have the energy and the people engaged. No one will ever do it.”

Horodner says that is why he has taken steps such as making museum admission free, redoing the permanent collection displays on the second floor, restructuring the interior of the museum and making programming changes, to increase engagement in the museum, particularly on campus.

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