NEWARK — In 1997, the Newark Museum closed its main entrance to keep temperature and humidity fluctuations from harming centuries-old paintings in the acclaimed exhibition, Crowning Glory: Images of the Virgin in the Arts of Portugal.
But while show is long gone, the doors on Washington Street have remained locked, and for 20 years the public has entered the museum through a side entrance by the parking lot.
The situation has been handy enough for visitors driving in from the suburbs, but uninviting to foot traffic and hardly conducive to the kinds of rendezvous like those on, say, the steps of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Now, with the streets surrounding New Jersey’s largest art collection increasingly buzzing with life, the Newark Museum is throwing open its main doors to the public once again.
As part of a $5.5 million plan to expand exhibition space for the museum’s extensive collection of African art while enhancing visitors’ arrival experience, museum officials announced this week that the Washington Street entrance will reopen Nov. 3.
“We see all around us how the neighborhood is changing quickly to accommodate its renewed development and growth,” Newark Museum Director and CEO Steven Kern said in a statement. “With this move, the Newark Museum is poised to reaffirm its role as both cultural and business anchor in the community. With the doors open, the Museum will project neighborhood vitality, stability and security.”
The project also includes a terrace on Washington Street at the base of the main entrance.
The beaux arts main building was designed by Jarvis Hunt and constructed in 1926 with funds from Louis Bamberger, the Newark department store mogul. Hunt had also designed Bamberger’s flagship store in Newark.
The museum includes other structures that have been incorporated since then, including the adjacent former YMCA, where the public now enters the museum, and the John Ballantine House, former home of the Newark beer…