8028 - Flint Institute of Arts to add new gallery wing and makerspace - Flint, MICH


Today, the FIA is embarking on a capital project that will raise the profile of the museum and yet another attractive venue for the Flint Cultural Center, the City of Flint, and Genesee County.

The Flint Institute of Arts is adding a Contemporary Craft Wing and artist’s maker space as part of a major museum expansion and renovation of its art school.

“This project is a game-changer for us in terms of providing exhibition and demonstration space that integrates a finished work of art with the process of how it is made,” said John Henry, FIA’s executive director. “It moves us closer to our ongoing goal of becoming a visitor- and family-friendly destination where everyone can learn while having a good time.”

The Contemporary Craft Wing, designed by architect Frederick Fisher and Partners will add more than 8,000 square feet of space to the east side of the FIA’s collection galleries. Complementing the new wing and providing working and demonstration space for glass and ceramic artists, an interior courtyard within the Art School will be converted to a multi-purpose maker space.

The project will be financed through a $17.5 million capital and endowment campaign. The FIA has raised $12.8 million of that total, which includes an $8.5 million capital grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. In addition to raising $5 million for the new wing and $3.5 million for the glass studio and multi-purpose maker space, the campaign has a $9 million endowment goal.

The Art School renovation adds 3,960 square feet of maker space outfitted with glass furnaces, a cold shop, a metal foundry, audio visual equipment, and stadium style seating.

“The additional space will allow us to provide live demonstrations for visitors, and studio classes for children and adults,” said Henry. “We’ll also be able to host visiting artist workshops in glassblowing, flamework, wheel throwing, and metal casting.”

The gallery expansion will accommodate two recent major gifts to the museum: the Dr. Robert and Deanna Harris Burger Collection of Contemporary Ceramics and the Isabel Foundation’s Sherwin and Shirley Glass Collection of Contemporary Glass.

“The two collections are made up of works by some of the foremost glass and ceramic artists around the world,” said Henry. “They contain a variety of important pieces emerging over the past 60 years through the Contemporary Craft Movement.”

“We believe these additions to the FIA will create an unparalleled resource for people in Michigan and the surrounding region, offering an in-depth look at contemporary craft. We’re also very excited to be able to introduce a glass-making and public demonstration component into the Art School,” Henry noted. The FIA Art School has had a history of teaching applied arts since its founding in 1928. That history—coupled with the museum’s significant collection of glass and ceramics—was the impetus for adding a new wing dedicated to contemporary craft.

“With its long history and culture of tinkering, inventing, designing and manufacturing useful— and sometimes very beautiful—objects, Flint is an ideal place for providing a contemporary craft experience for artists and visitors,” said William S. White, Chairman and CEO of the Mott Foundation. “That’s why we’re so pleased to make a gift to support the new wing and maker space.”

Construction will begin in July, with completion scheduled for Fall of 2017. During the late summer of 2017, portions of the FIA will be closed as artwork is installed and spaces are prepared for re-opening.