New Acquisitions and Street Art for Baltimore Museum of Art’s Revamped Contemporary Wing

Since closing its contemporary wing in January of last year, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) has been putting the galleries through an extensive renovation, the first step in a major $24.5 million overhaul of three of the institution’s collections in anticipation of its centennial celebrations in 2014. Today the BMA announced that it will reopen its contemporary galleries on November 17 with a slew of recent acquisitions and two major site-specific installations.

The museum has commissioned installation artist Sarah Oppenheimer to create a major intervention in the gallery, linking the museum’s modern and contemporary collections with a work that will cover the space’s floor, walls and ceiling — as first revealed in May of last year. The BMA’s other major new commission for the space will be a new work by the revered Baltimore-based street artist Gaia.

Meanwhile, in the newly reopened galleries, the museum will show off over a dozen recent acquisitions like artist duo (and American representatives at the 2011 Venice Biennale) Allora & Calzadilla‘s video “A Man Screaming is Not a Dancing Bear” (2008), relational aesthetics pioneer Rirkrit Tiravanija‘s “Untitled (bicycle shower)” (2010), and Nari Ward‘s shoelace installation in the shape of a basketball and hoop, “Live Ball” (2010, below).

The BMA will also christen the contemporary wing’s new project space with a show of eight large-scale photographs by the South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa, and unveil its new gallery dedicated to prints, drawings, and photographs with a show of works on paper from its permanent collection including pieces by Philip Guston, and James Rosenquist.

“The reopening of our contemporary wing this fall will mark the beginning of an incredibly exciting time at the BMA,” Director Doreen Bolger said today in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We look forward to sharing a first taste of the reinvented BMA this November, when our audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy unexpected, thought-provoking encounters with art in our re-imagined contemporary wing.” The remaining phases of the BMA’s renovations include reinstalling its American and African art collections, building new educational facilities, and renovating the museum’s lobby.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Photo: Stephen Spartana, courtesy the Baltimore Museum of Art; Artwork: Nari Ward “Live Ball,” 2010, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York)