Ellen Noël to update look, make temporary move

Aug. 21—With an eye toward setting itself up for success for future generations, the Ellen Noël Art Museum board decided to add an addition, modernize its space and make it more flexible and fix some infrastructure.

In order to begin construction, the museum, located at 4909 E. University Blvd., is temporarily relocating to the Shepperd Leadership Institute, 4919 University Blvd.

"This means you can expect all future exhibits, educational programs and Thursday night events to be held at the Shepperd Leadership Institute unless noted otherwise," a news release said.

"The museum will close its doors to the public on Aug. 31st, and reopen and resume normal business hours at the Shepperd Leadership Institute on Sept. 15th, 2022," the release said.

The exhibits and collection will come down at the end of August. Executive Director Sheila Perry said they will be open, but it will primarily be the garden.

They will have Movies Under the Stars Aug. 26 in the garden and then Sept. 10 they will host a large community art day.

The last day the building will be open is Sept. 11. They will open with a reception at the Archives on Sept. 15.

Because everything is so volatile right now, Perry said they don't know how long the project will take or what the budget will be. It is being financed with donations and grants.

Perry said the original budget was $12 million and there was money built in for inflation.

"With the original budget we're about 80 percent so we need to raise the remaining 20 percent of the original budget and then also whatever is over the original budget," Perry said.

"I'm hoping it's not crazy beyond that because we did have a lot of leeway built into that budget. There are certain things that are going to Phase II ...," she added.

The contractor is Lee Lewis of Lubbock and the architect is Parkhill in Midland.

Plans are to make the museum space more flexible. The museum is just over 21,000 square feet. There will be one entry point with the renovations.

They expect to add 13,808 square feet bringing the new museum footprint to 35,689 square feet. A small second floor will be added.

The gallery space will be up to 9,700 square feet; a multipurpose gallery and theater will include 2,000 square feet and have a 100-seat capacity.

The event space will enclose 4,700 square feet; there will be three spaces and classrooms.

Staff offices will move out of the collection storage area to the second floor.

Perry said the University of Texas Permian Basin has been "awesome," as has the community as a whole.

"They have been absolutely wonderful," she added.

Since the Presidential Archives has sat dormant for a couple of years, they asked the museum for some guidance.

Realizing they could help each other, the archives will give the museum a place to set up shop and the museum "do some work on their collections and we're going to figure out how to animate the collection in ways that haven't happened in the past ...," Perry said.

On their tours, Ector County ISD students will be able to view exhibits on portraiture and history and tour the Bush House.

"It will be more interdisciplinary this year. It will be a mix of art and history, which I think is really exciting because our community will really benefit from that," Perry said.

Paula Barnett, president of the Ellen Noël Art Museum board, said when the process of figuring out where the museum would be during construction there were all kinds of scenarios.

But Perry started talking to UTPB and a plan came together.

"It's so wonderful to team up with the university because we've kind of connected with them for a long time," Barnett said.

She added that it's nice that they will be close to the museum building so people will know where they are. Barnett noted that the Archives are already museum quality.

"It's going to benefit both of us because we're going to be able to help them with the presidential archives. They're helping us with the office space ...," Barnett said.

The museum will be able to have small exhibits at the archives, she added.

"It's just really beyond what we thought would happen," Barnett said.

She said she's been involved with the museum and the board for close to 15 years and the museum has faced challenges with equipment and humidity levels and has had to come up with funds for repairs.

When Perry came on board, Barnett said she helped the board to focus and they developed a strategic plan. Part of that was a capital campaign.

"... We're excited about that. One of the goals is that we from the beginning the Ellen Noël Art Museum is not your everyday, traditional museum. The design of the museum right now (was) kind of new at the time it was built, so we knew that we wanted to be a little different and we wanted to stand out," Barnett said.

The architects shared pictures of other museums throughout the world and came up with the design.

"It's very different for Odessa, but on the other hand I think it really speaks to the level of art and that we want art not just to be hanging on the wall. ... The building needs to reflect that it's an art museum. The architects have been wonderful ...," she added.

Perry said the Ellen Noël will slowly move their collection to the Museum of the Southwest, including Stampede, which will be put on display in Midland.

The current gallery space is cut up so they can't display anything really large, Perry said.

"A couple of the exhibits we've had since I've been here, we've ended up having to put half of it in one gallery and half in the other," Perry added.