The ASU Art Museum 'Project Space' to close April 2018

'To See the Words Unspoken' marks the final exhibit for the downtown ASU Art Museum location

The ASU Art Museum "Project Space," the museum's downtown experimental gallery, will be closing its doors April 20. 

Located in the downtown Phoenix Roosevelt Row Arts District, "Project Space" has been a part of the ASU Art Museum since 2011. The space is attached to the Artist Residency facility, a space where ASU invites artists to live and create work that is then shown in "Project Space."

Read More: The Project Space: Where art lives in downtown Phoenix

Katrina Montgomery, ASU Art Museum communications program coordinator, said that as opposed to most other ASU Museum exhibition locations,  "Project Space" is rented, rather than owned by ASU. 

She said although the rent was a concern, closing the space was not a budgetary decision, but instead an attempt by the museum to find a way to better reach their target audience.

“If you’re renting a space, the landlords can change the rent or they can limit what you’re allowed to do there,” Montgomery said. “So, in thinking about our future, we would want something more sustainable.”

However, Montgomery said she was unaware of any restrictions that had been imposed on "Project Space."

Kev Nemelka, residency coordinator and designer for "Project Space" before resigning in February, said the closure was likely related to the cost of keeping the space open.

“Our rent was super crazy there, and we were only open once a week,” Nemelka said. “So, there were a lot of logistical things that made more sense to just shut it down.”

The ASU Art Museum announced March 17 on its Facebook page that it will not be renewing its lease after the end of it's current exhibition "To See the Words Unspoken."


Read More: To See the Words Unspoken exhibit weaves an image of the impact of words

Shannon Ludington, the artist behind "To See the Words Unspoken" and an art graduate student, said she hopes ASU will find a new location downtown to house "Project Space" with better parking options, visibility and that is closer to the ASU downtown campus or still along Roosevelt Row.

“I think if they want ASU to be really integrated into the Phoenix art scene, then Downtown would be really helpful,” she said.

While "Project Space’s" future is uncertain, the museum will not be getting rid of its Artist Residency program. Artists’ exhibitions and employees currently working at "Project Space" will simply be moved to other museum locations.

However, museum officials are unsure whether the residency program and "Project Space" will move to a different location or “take a new form.” The museum plans to announce its official decision in August.

Montgomery said the closing of "Project Space" is just one step in a plan to reinvent the entirety of the ASU Art Museum.

“(The museum is) really getting input from a lot of different people, like staff and people that come to the museum, and people interested in the arts who don’t come to the museum right now," Montgomery said. "(We're ) talking to them about why or what might make them want to come here."


Reach the reporter at mrobbin9@asu.edu or follow @MelissaARobbins on Twitter.

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