Though the Fort Wayne Museum of Art had been around for many years, it moved to its current home in 1984 after a two-year, $4 million construction project that created a 39,000-square-foot building.
The museum moved to its new structure on Main Street from the B. Paul Mossman mansion, 1202 W. Wayne St., which is now the home of Castle Gallery Fine Art. The new building had about five times more floor space and a 108-seat auditorium.
An opening exhibit, “Indiana Influence,” featured 160 historical and contemporary works with Indiana connections and was on display from the April 15 opening through June 24. That spring, the museum sponsored four weekend festivals recognizing art in various aspects of the community.
A $7.5 million renovation, including a 10,000-square-foot expansion, was completed in 2010.
The following story appeared in The Journal Gazette:
"Museum's debut Sunday," by Troy Cozad (April 13, 1984)
Sunday's dedication ceremony for the $4 million Museum of Art, 311 E. Main St., will begin a series of events recognizing the facility's official opening.
The museum's first exhibit, "Indiana Influence," a mix of historical landscapes and contemporary works with Indiana ties, will be displayed through June 24. The Alliance Sales and Rental Gallery will feature works of sculptress jean Juhlin and painter and printmaker Mary Alice Bernardin through May 8.
April 29 through May 19, the museum will sponsor a series of four weekend festivals recognizing art in religion, education and cultural heritage. A general arts fair will conclude the activities.
The festivals are designed to attract new people to the museum, said Patricia S. Griest, who coordinated the museum dedication plans. "We want to make people aware that the museum is here for them," she said.
Construction of the 39,000-square-foot building began in April 1982, after nearly $4 million was raised. A $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts was the only non-local contribution.
The museum offers about five times more floor space, better environmental controls for sensitive art works and a more central location than the former museum in the B. Paul Mossman mansion, 1202 W. Wayne St. It also includes a 108-seat auditorium.
The opening exhibit of 160 works was organized more than a year ago by Independent Curators Inc. of New York City. It has two sections: "The Golden Age of Indiana Landscape Painting," works by 25 turn-of-the-century artists of Indiana scenes, and "Indiana's Modern Legacy," paintings and sculptures from 27 contemporary artists, some of whom are expected to attend the opening.
" 'The Golden Age' are portraits of the landscape. The artists were basically recording what they were seeing," said Valerie V. Braybrooke, museum director. "The contemporary section explores the landscape of the mind and deals more with intangibles."
The special exhibit was collected through art dealers, private collections and museums from New England to Chicago. Works from the museum's 1,000 piece permanent collection also will be on display.
The festivals will include:
• The Religious Arts Festival from April 24-29, including church artifacts, vestments and hangings displayed in the Performing Arts Center, 303 E. Main St. Church-oriented music, dances and a slide presentation on area historic churches will be conducted in the museum from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 29.
• The School Arts Festival on May 5, including art by area students and music and dance performances from area school groups.
• The Cultural Heritage Arts Festival on May 12, demonstrating traditional arts and crafts from 17 countries with heritage links to Fort Wayne.
• The Art Festival on May 19, including the Museum of Art Alliance Spring Art Sale, movies, music, drama, arts workshops, puppets, a variety of art displays, and performances by the Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Community Band, Civic Theatre and Youtheatre and the Back Porch Players.
The new museum completes the arts complex planned when the Fine Arts Foundation in 1966 acquired the land now occupied by the museum and the Performing Arts Center.