For some museum visitors, it will be a welcomed update in the nearly 4-year-old Taubman space for the program, which was a popular feature of the Art Museum of Western Virginia when it resided in Roanoke’s Center in the Square.
After the new museum opened in November 2008, it took another five months for the larger Art Venture to debut. The 2,200-square-foot space featured devices such as the “Lumia Lab,” which allowed visitors to play with theater lighting effects, and cartoons painted on the wall by “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” set designer Gary Panter.Yet museum patrons didn’t embrace the new gadgets, and some found them confusing rather than engaging. As the museum struggled annually with budget shortfalls, survey feedback from as far back as summer 2010 indicated Art Venture needed to go back to the drawing board.
So since the spring of 2011, Cindy Petersen, the museum’s new director of school and community based education, has overseen a $129,000 corporate and philanthropist-funded renovation of the space that for the most part gets back to basics.
Perhaps the most important element of the new Art Venture won’t be immediately evident from a glance at an architectural rendering.
Petersen said her goal is to keep Art Venture staffed with volunteers and to plan new activities every weekend that will coincide with the museum’s free Spectacular Saturdays. She would like Art Venture activities to provide insight and promote involvement with the exhibitions on display.
Petersen said she has heard feedback from families about Art Venture that posed the question, “We went once, but why should we come back?”
With the new Art Venture, every time a family comes in, there’s something new.
“The activities are different every week. There’s nothing permanent,” she said.