Monday, February 19, 2018
Arts

See renovated Museum of Fine Arts galleries for free Saturday

The convergence of two big events Saturday means one thing: You can see the grand reopening of the renovated galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg for free.

Many museums throughout the Tampa Bay area will waive admissions on Saturday as part of the national Smithsonian Free Museum Day and, in St. Petersburg, the city's Arts Alive program.

It also will be the first day the public can see the MFA permanent collection galleries since a major overhaul closed them in early summer.

Color and light are the most dramatic shifts for rooms covered for decades in beige linen with their windows obscured. Now vibrant paint has replaced the fraying fabric, and the newly uncovered arched windows in the 1965 building allow natural light and views from inside and out. The colors were selected to complement the art. New flooring and lighting also add to the update.

The permanent collection represents 4,5000 years of world art, from antiquities to the present, which has been rearranged along with the renovation, sometimes to suggest connections between different times and cultures.

The museum, like others participating in free museum day, always experiences an uptick. Museum spokesman David Connelly said the free day drew 5,000 last year, "way, way up for us," he said.

Because of the crowds, docent tours have been canceled but the docents, volunteers who are experts in the museum's collection and give tours, will stage a flash mob at noon beginning on the museum steps on Beach Drive. They will recreate Gathering at Church Entrance, the much loved 1884 painting by Richard Hall in the museum's Great Hall, where the work hangs. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

For more on Smithsonian Free Museum Day and Arts Alive, see today's Weekend section.

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