April 5, 2013 By Bill Parry
The expansion of one of Long Island City’s top-tier art galleries began Tuesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking.
The SculptureCenter, located at 44-19 Purves Street, is now undergoing a major revamp that will include an addition to the existing building on the vacant lot next door. That extension will include a one-story, 2,000 square-foot entrance lobby, which will provide room for and ticketing, orientation and visitor services—such as a bookshop, seating and restrooms.
The new addition will also feature a 1,500 square foot enclosed courtyard for outdoor exhibitions. The project should be completed by fall 2014.
The gallery aims to be able to serve a greater number of visitors and add to its presence as an important Long Island City cultural institution.
The SculptureCenter has been in its current location since 2001, after being in Manhattan for 70 years.
“We found this old trolley car repair shop in the middle of this industrial area [back in 2001],” said Franklin Janka, an associate director. “It was renovated with the knowledge that there would be expansion one day.”
The SculptureCenter’s mission is to identify new talent and to support artists by commissioning their work. Over the past decade, the gallery has presented work by more than 650 emerging and established artists.
The organization intends to launch a whole new series of projects. These include public art works, community programs and family workshops.
To complete the expansion, the center needs $6 million. More than half that amount has already been raised, through a combination of gifts and grants—as well as a $2 million allocation from Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and a $125,000 allocation from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Marshall and Van Bramer took part in the groundbreaking with SculptureCenter Director Mary Ceruti and Sascha Bauer, the Chair of the Board of Directors.
The center will remain open during construction.