Expanding art

A new project at UF's Harn adds a wing


From left, Dr. Charles Young, Dr. Rebecca Nagy, Dr. David Cofrin, Kha Le-Huu, Mary Ann Harn Cofrin, and Chris Wickberg participate Thursday in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavillion, a new exhibit wing at the Harn Museum on the University of Florida Campus.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 1:23 a.m.
From ancient Chinese paintings to 20th century American wood carvings, the Harn Museum of Art is already known for its permanent collections of art that trace the history of some of the world's cultures.
The traveling exhibitions and a journey through the halls of the museum allows visitors to see the world through the eyes of African, Asian, European and American sculptors and artists.
Now, museum officials say, a state-of-the-art new expansion that will link the museum to its neighbor on the University of Florida campus - the Florida Museum of Natural History - is sure to enhance the Harn's range and diversity of art work.
"I think I must be one of the luckiest museum directors in the country," Harn Museum Director Rebecca Nagy told an audience of about 300 museum staff members, UF employees and other interested art lovers at a Thursday ground-breaking ceremony for the project.
At the event, UF President Charles Young joined former interim UF President Bob Bryan in praising benefactors David and Mary Ann Harn Cofrin for their $3.2 million gift - matched by the state - which will pay for the upcoming construction of the new exhibit wing, to be named the Mary Ann Harn Cofrin Pavilion.
David Cofrin is a retired Gainesville physician and Mary Ann Harn Cofrin is the daughter of the museum's namesake, Samuel P. Harn.
"As we watch this building grow before our eyes and take shape, our job now is to acquire more works of art" to grace the halls of the pavilion, Nagy said.
She said afterward that the planned 20,000-square-foot pavilion, nearly a third of the museum's current size, will allow the Harn to showcase more large-scale sculptures, paintings and video installations, Nagy said.
"It will give us chance to show more of our permanent collection than we do now," she said.
The pavilion also will include an upscale café with indoor and outdoor seating to serve visitors of both the Harn and the Florida Museum of Natural History and two classrooms open to the public to create "hands-on art projects" of their own.
At the Florida Museum of Natural History, construction soon will begin on McGuire Hall, an expansion that will house, among other collections, a tropical butterfly display where visitors can walk among thousands of butterflies. The new structures will be connected to each other by a series of waterways and terraces.
Both museums, near SW 34th Street and Hull Road, combine with the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to form what UF has named its Cultural Plaza.
Kha Le-Huu, chosen as principal architect for the Cofrin Pavilion just as he was for the Harn when it was built in the late 1980s, said the plan behind the pavilion was to bring the the neighboring museums closer together so that they become "a single experience for the visitor."
David Powers of Skanska USA Building Inc., the construction firm doing both museum additions, said McGuire Hall should be finished by December and that construction on the the pavilion is tentatively scheduled to begin in June and finish a year later.

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